Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Word Of Praise For Japan

I really don't know what to say about the situation in Japan. It is indescribably sad, and I am praying for their country during this devastating time. I hope you will enjoy this beautiful picture from Japan instead of all of the pictures of destruction we are seeing on the news.

Today I read something nice and admirable about Japan in our local paper that I wanted to share briefly. A headline in the Cambodia Daily said, "Despite Crisis, Japan Gives $94 Million Aid to Cambodia". When I read the headline, I assumed that the aid surely was given a few weeks ago, before the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. But such was not the case. The very first sentence of the article said that yesterday (about 4 days after the earthquake and tsunami struck their country) Japan signed an agreement to give Cambodia nearly $100 million in aid for various infrastructure projects and demining efforts. Cambodia's Prime Minister said in a speech on Monday that Cambodia should be prepared for Japan to have to cut back on its foreign aid budget due to the severity of their current crisis. I do not know the amount of aid that Japan gave to Cambodia last year. They have been one of the top (if not the top) foreign country investing in Cambodia's rebuilding for many years. I can stand on our back porch and see the Japanese Friendship Bridge spanning the Tonle Sap River. Perhaps what they gave this year didn't equal what they gave last year. I don't know. But I do know that $94 million is not "pocket change". That's a huge amount of money for a country to give to help another country when they themselves are facing extensive and expensive damages in their country. It has been said that this current crisis is the greatest damage that Japan has faced since WWII. I find it to be very admirable that even in the face of this current crisis, Japan would still desire to be a help to others in need.

Being a preacher, almost every news article reminds me of a verse of Scripture, and this one was no different.

Perhaps you have already thought of the verse of which I was reminded. 

II Corinthians 8:1-2
 "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."

One of the things that made the churches of Macedonia such an incredibly good example to the church at Corinth and other churches was that the offering they gave to meet a need was not given because they had extra money. They didn't give because of their financial situation. They gave in spite of their financial situation. They were in the midst of a "great trial of affliction" and their financial situation was described as "deep poverty". And yet, they gave a financial gift to meet someone else's need.

I am aware that America is going through a very difficult time right now, especially financially. But I have been so encouraged to see how many people just keep on giving. I believe that many people in America and around the world are giving to missions in a way that is similar to the churches of Macedonia. Not giving because there is a huge surplus of money laying around, but giving because they believe so greatly in the cause that they are willing to sacrifice for it. I have no way of knowing what motivates the Japanese government and people to be so generous year after year towards the Kingdom of Cambodia, but I do believe I know why Christians all over the world continue to give to missions year after year.

We have received a few letters in the last couple of years from pastors apologizing for the fact that they are having to make adjustments to their missions giving due to the economic downturn and a drop in contributions. My heart always goes out to the pastor who has to write such a letter, because I know that it breaks their heart to have to do so. I want to encourage anyone reading this article to not be too hard on yourself if you are not able to give as much as you once did. God knows and understands the troubles and trials through which a nation, a church, or an individual must pass. Whether you contribute more to world missions each year (as some have been blessed to be able to do) or must of necessity contribute less than you would really like is not really the issue. If you give so much as a single dollar while you yourself are experiencing an economic earthquake or weathering some financial storm, you are exhibiting true compassion. I am sure I speak for all missionaries, as well as people all around the world who have found new life in Christ when I say, "Thank you."

1 comment:

  1. Haven't had a chance to come to your blog in a while. Interesting to know these things about Japan. The Japanese also aren't rioting or looting.