The Hope of the Rising Sun
There is a crisis quietly unfolding far away from the headlines of Syria’s chemical attacks, North Korea’s erratic leadership, California’s raging wild fires, and this nation’s economic unraveling. The crisis concerns the land of my birth, the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. While the international news media are focused on hot spots elsewhere, the sobering reality is that Japan has simply been unable to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. It is reported that thousands of those who survived but whose homes did not are still living in emergency shelters or housing. The Fukushima nuclear plant continues to dangerously leak radioactive water into the surrounding land and sea. And “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” seem unable to staunch the national hemorrhage. The church in Japan is caught in the clutches of the national crisis. While the church in China and South Korea continues to explode with numerical growth, the church in Japan enjoys no such success. For they are tasked with reaching a society steeped in Shinto belief that Japan is the country of the gods and her inhabitants are the descendants of the gods. Thus what need do they have for what they consider to be inferior belief systems or ideologies. If you are descended from the gods, what need is there for a Savior? Christianity as a consequence is a marginalized religion at best, with less than 1% of the 128 million adhering to faith in Christ. Every morning Seventh-day Adventists in Japan (less than 15,000 members or around 1/100 of 1% of the populace) awaken to that debilitating reality. And so when the leaders of the church in Japan wrote and asked if I would come and conduct a series of evangelistic meetings for Tokyo 13 (as they are calling the emphasis), I knew immediately that of course I must go. For not only was I born there—I spent the first fourteen years of my life living there, the son of missionary parents. I speak the language (terribly rusty now, I’m afraid). I am a child of that land. In a few days I will fly across the Pacific to Tokyo. And I am earnestly appealing to you for your intercessory prayer cover and support. All summer long we have been claiming God’s promise, “I will do a new thing. . . . I will pour water on the thirsty, and My Spirit on your descendants” (Isaiah 43:19/44:3). But all summer long I have prayed this promise not only for this campus but also for that country. It is clear for both sides of the Pacific that our hope of revival lies solely in the resurrecting, recreating, reigniting power of Christ. Only the Spirit of God can penetrate the heart and soul of Japan and the heart and soul of this campus. Hence we must pray with “shameless audacity” (Luke 11:8 NIV) to the Savior of the world. But we must also act on our prayers. And so I go to Japan. Our weeklong series is entitled, “The Hope of the Rising Sun.” Because that is Japan’s only hope—that the “Sun of Righteousness” promised in Malachi 4:2 “will rise with healing in His rays” over that proud but desperately needy nation. And when Christ rises over Japan—as I believe He will one day—then at last she will truly become the Land of the Rising Sun. And therein lies our hope.