Home Sweet Home
I quite literally just returned home to Tokyo from a 14 day crisis response deployment in Kurdistan, Iraq with CRI*(Crisis Response International.) Not long after my plane landed at Narita International Airport, the earth became too wet and wobbly for its own good down in Hiroshima. The result was a shocking number of landslides and serious disruption for those affected.
My first thought after reading the news of Hiroshima’s landslides?
“Japan really? I’m back home less than a day and this happens? You are just falling apart at the seams aren’t you?”
My second thought? “Who do I know that has friends and/or family down there?” (As it turns out, I do know somebody whose family made it but, whose neighbors didn’t. Sigh…)
My third thought? “Why are you shocked or surprised by this? It’s your life. It’s part of what you signed up for. Do something. Don’t just sit here feeling sorry about it.”
My post travel fog and bone-tired self managed to muster one of the most ignoble prayers over the situation as I spent the entirety of Aug. 20th drifting in and out of sleep. In a perfect example of what happens when the spirit is willing and the body is truly weak I muttered, “Jesus, help. Do whatever you need to do in Hiroshima.” Not the most spiritual posture for intercession given the scale of disaster people down south presently face- in a city nonetheless, that intimately understands the definitions of disaster and distress. Japan has surely had more than her share of sucker-punches to the gut when it comes to crisis visiting specific cities, entire regions and the nation.
It’s hard not to become desensitized considering how frequent Japan experiences disasters of all shapes and sizes. Especially after just returning home from two weeks of slogging it out up to my eyeballs in the middle of a massive man made humanitarian crisis in Northern Iraq. Yet, the response- the first response- when receiving such sad news should be the same no matter how untimely or personally inconvenient. To pray irrespective of how feeble that first attempt actually is.
I wish I could say I got on my face proper to pray for Hiroshima and Japan the second I found out about the landslides. I didn’t. In my defense, I was exhausted and my mind and heart were still focused on the very real crisis theater in Iraq I’d reluctantly flown home from. Still, I can’t help but wish my humanity and exhaustion hadn’t gotten the better of me. I can’t help but wish I were more machine than human some days simply so I could respond rightly and at full capacity to everything that crosses my path. Even that, however, is part of the process of being a responder as well as being (dare I say it) human. We do have to pick and choose the battles we fight, the people we help and to simply be still and rest on the days our bodies refuse to function.
Confronting the Ugly
Confronting crisis and disaster is but one of many legs in the life long marathon we run when we choose to run with Jesus. We are well advised to “…run in such a way that you may obtain it [the prize]…” and to “…run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (1 Cor. 9.24 & Heb 12.1) We cannot hope to win any kind of endurance race without learning, in the process, how to pace ourselves and at times run intentionally slower (or stop running altogether) in order to conserve energy for the moments moving full steam ahead is absolutely necessary.
Prayer is no different. Prayer over a region, a nation, a city, a particular crisis or not so fantastic life situation? There is no difference between being out in the field and pacing oneself in the practical helps vs. being in the prayer room and pacing oneself on the spiritual track doing laps. We run both races with endurance and in such a way as to obtain the victory and receive the prize.
On August 7th our small team of responders stood in a major city in Kurdistan with ISIS quickly approaching and boldly stood our ground in the spirit. We took authority over the enemy advances. We declared the tide was turning and resources that were being held up from the allied nations were in fact getting released as we spoke. We agreed with heaven when we announced the enemy would come thus far and absolutely no further. We took authority over the spirit of fear & terror that was advancing ahead of ISIS- the root causing so many to tremble in their boots. We prayed that God would do what man could not and maintain the city as a place of refugee in the midst of a very terrible situation. And when we finished praying, we worshiped Him for being the God he says he is. The very real and present help in time of need. We stood in confidence that it was Christ in us who was the HOPE of GLORY for Iraq and the region and that our prayers meant something. And after we had done all we could do in prayer, we stood watching and waiting to see what our God would do on behalf of the ones He loves.
On the 8th of August, news broke that the US had given the order to send in air strikes and provide air support to the Peshmerga (the Kurdish Army.) Some of our team saw with their own eyes the plumes rising in the distance from those air strikes. The entire atmosphere in the city began to change from that day. The fear and terror that was causing the hearts of the people to melt was, over the days following, pushed back by the power of prayer. Not only from our team on the ground but from multitudes around the globe who took the time to stop and pray for a shift to come into Iraq’s crisis. At the time I left, we were still seeing the results of our payers unfold like a red carpet before our eyes. God showed up and blew our minds because we decided to agree with heaven in prayer for the things that were already on His heart.
Now that I’ve had 48 or so hours back on the ground in Japan to rest up, get my head on straight and convince my body to function in this time zone, I’m ready to go another lap (or several) around the track in prayer with my body, mind and spirt moving together in unison.
The point of all this?
When we stop what we are doing. Put our agendas aside, lay down our business and our schedules in order to have a meeting with Jesus- things shift. Change arrives at the gates and the events of the world start aligning with the decrees, laws, ordinances, plans, purposes and strategies of heaven. We get to see the miracles, the signs and the wonders stretch out before our eyes and we get to see the mighty hand of God move on behalf of the nations in matters great and small. We get to see God, THE God of the Heavens and the Earth route His enemies in the most magnificent ways imaginable. We get to LIVE the bible.
Opportunities are Possibilities
What will things look like in Hiroshima tomorrow or the next few days (and by extension Japan) after we collectively decide to pray for an invasion of heaven into what has become a very real hell for those involved in these terrible landslides? How many of them will meet Jesus and quite literally get pulled from the mud and muck of a life lived without God because of it?
In the midst of this tragedy, we have yet another opportunity to sow into the harvest, future, soul, spirit and destiny of Japan through our prayers. Japan has sown so much into the world through material blessings- let’s choose now to lavishly pour spiritual blessings out upon her.
Here is a great guide that the amazing team at CRASH Japan** prepared on how to pray in times of disaster. Check it out if you are new to praying through disasters and want something with more meat in it than my feeble jet lagged and travel weary, “Jesus help.”
Join me in choosing to pray for the events that are unfolding right now in Asia, Iraq and specifically today in Hiroshima. Our prayers in the now are a vital part of the end times harvest that we as the Body of Christ are fully commissioned to help bring in! Ready? Set?Go!
*CRI is presently responding to the crisis in Iraq. To learn more about them and how you can get involved and/or contribute to relief efforts, please go directly to their website.
**CRASH Japan is presently responding to the crisis in Hiroshima. To learn more about them and how you can get involved and/or contribute to relief efforts, please go directly to their website.