From Greed to Generosity
On March 11—the 7th anniversary of the Triple Disaster here in Japan—I’ve been asked to preach at Tokyo Life Church, the church we attend most regularly. TLC is in a Lenten series, and the topics are The Seven Deadly Sins. The passage I’m to cover is Matthew 19:16-30. It is the story of the rich young ruler, and the deadly sin is greed.
As I reflect on how to tie greed, the rich young ruler, and 3.11 together, vivid memories come to mind. I’ll never forget that day in the mountains of Karuizawa thinking, “It could be over.” Having grown up in Los Angeles, I was used to some of the biggest earthquakes you can imagine. But this quake just kept on going, minute after agonizing minute.
Our team was filled with emotion as we saw the pictures of what was happening to the Northern Coast of Japan. The triple disaster—earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown--took their toll. Many were swept out to sea; homes were destroyed; entire communities were lost.
Shortly after the earthquake stopped, one of our leaders told me, “Joe, several of us just went through disaster preparation training last week in case something like this were to happen!” Another said to me, “Joe, Asian Access worked in that area with a summer program years ago. We are one of the more connected ministries in the region.” Immediately, I knew that God had called us to an Esther-like moment:
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” — Esther 4:14
Signs of Hope on the 7th Anniversary
Today, seven years later, it’s amazing to see the grace that God has showered on Japan since that devastating day. I continue to hear story after story of signs of hope in Christ. People seem to have a fresh vision of ministry for the future. Never before have I seen Japanese pastors with such enormous enthusiasm and vision.
As I reflect on the passage of the rich young ruler, I’m reminded of the abundance of giving that came into Japan following the disaster: funding, people and prayer. It was nonstop! And I’m so grateful for the many people who came to serve, those who fervently prayed day after day, and those who gave so generously and sacrificially to help the people of Japan.
From Missionary Graveyard to Great Expectation
Japan has always been known as a “Missionary Graveyard”. For many in the global mission community, there is little hope for Japan. But in the face of the 3.11 calamity, the global Church rose to the occasion and gave generously to help the Japanese people. Now, people here in Japan and throughout the world are excited about what God is going to do in the coming years. The Rugby World Cup is being hosted here next year, and the Summer Olympics will come to Japan the year following.
I believe this is a kairos moment for Japan—a special season for God’s favor. I pray, as I prepare to preach on March 11, that the same kind of generosity will flow as we head into these divine opportunities in the coming years.
We remember with great sadness the tremendous loss of life and the cruel devastation of 3.11. And I pray that you’ll join me in generous fashion, forsaking the Seventh Deadly Sin of Greed, to be generous to Japan. Generous in your prayers. Generous in your serving. Generous in your giving. Come join us… God can use you as we head into this kairos moment in history.
What many people thought was impossible, God has overcome. For the impossible is possible with God! (Matthew 19:26)
Joe Handley, President
- Japan Disaster Page
- 2012 Reflections: One Year Later
- 2013: Video: Japan Disaster Relief Project Report - 2 Years Later
- 2014: Third anniversary of The Great NE Japan Disaster
- 2015: Japan tsunami - 4 years later: Church Plant Building Project Update
- 2016: Five Years After the Triple Disaster: Journeying With The Japanese
- 2017: A Day Etched in My Memory Forever