Danny Iverson IV is one of my presidential interns here at RTS Orlando. He grew up in Japan. His parents are missionaries there. There are lots of commentaries on the earthquake and its aftermath, but this one brings a Christ focused perspective that others lack. So for today’s posting, I am going to pass it over to Danny. Here’s what he wrote:
Dear RTS Community,
As I watched the waves sweep over my homeland I could not help but weep… weeping at the devastation yes, but weeping even more over the fact that 99.9% of the those people getting swept away by the Tsunami (or in the wake of the radiation) do not know Jesus. Can you imagine that? An area of country so lost that only 1 out of 1000 have declared Jesus to be Lord and trusted in His saving grace. I can’t imagine watching a wave crashing toward me, knowing that my life was over, and having no idea what eternity held in store. For those of us who hope in Christ, death in this life should not bring us fear… for we have a hope that far outweighs anything this fallen world might send our way. But what about those who don’t have that hope, those who have never heard? Growing up in Japan I remember my friends in school thinking Jesus was an American… In a school of 600 I was the only Christian. Japan is an unreached people group in desperate need of the Gospel. My dad sent out an email reminding us to put things in perspective about the brokenness of humanity and the need for the hope held out in the Gospel for Japan. Every day over 90 people in Japan kill themselves…. Why? They are the third richest country in the world, 100% literate, hardly any crime, very resourceful and so organized. Why would so many take their own lives when it seems like a perfect country? The hopelessness and lack of eternal meaning or purpose plagues the people of my home. As things they thought worth living for disappear, their purpose for living vanishes and they end their lives.
So what is our purpose here at school? I keep asking myself that as I struggle along to stay focused and glorify God with my studies. I lose purpose so quickly and it has been hard for my heart to delight in the Lord and His Word as my mind aches from all the information being transmitted to it… Relationships are hard, being a dad and husband is hard, and my own sin and struggles are right there biting at my heals trying to take me down. Life feels like a storm, and the waves seem to be crashing toward me. Am I the only one who feels this way? How do we stay focused and continue to delight in the Lord and hope in his covenant promises during the stormy seasons of life where we have all been called to study and learn more of our great salvation and how to share it with this broken world? As I face the stresses of everyday life it is easy for me to complain and try to escape my reality and struggles by going to sources of “strength” other than Jesus. Much like the people of Japan, I hope in so many things other than Christ to redeem me and give my life purpose… I am so often like the Japanese prime minister, who in his announcement tried so hard to make this disaster seem like not a big deal, and that Japan could handle it since they were “prepared.” With the death toll possibly over 50,000, and the surmounting troubles from nuclear plant meltdowns, reality must be sinking in. How do I pretend that the waves aren’t there or aren’t really consuming me? How do I boast in my “preparation” and hope in myself and my own resources? How do I glaze over the reality of my sin against God and pretend it really isn’t that damaging or destructive to myself and others? These are all questions running through my mind right now as I contemplate life in light of this disaster. Maybe some, if not all of you, can relate. God’s Word and the truth of His promises remind me that all other ground is indeed sinking sand. With the Psalmist I am realizing I must go to the rock that is higher than I. The Rock of my salvation. The Solid Rock that can not be shaken.
As I weep for my country and pray for my family as they labor to bring physical and spiritual relief to fellow humans in need, I also think of our school and pray that RTS will be a place where the People of God will indeed be equipped with hearts and minds for God, and hands and feet that “go into the world” and bring hope to those under the tsunami of God’s wrath. How much greater is the justice of the Living God than the 30 foot waves of the tsunamis or exposure to lethal radiation? How much more will the nations tremble at His judgment than the 8.9 earthquake can shake. I am reminded in this hour how serious our call is as we train for the relief work of souls. I can not help but repent for how lazy my heart and mind have been, and how stale my payer life has been for the lost and hurting. How selfish I have been with my time and resources. How self absorbed I have been with my problems and struggles. We know of a Rock, a solid place that can not be shaken; a stronghold, an arc, that will not be consumed by the floods of God’s righteous wrath. His name is Jesus, and in his name all nations find their hope. In His name I must hope… He is our salvation… That’s where I must go with all that I am. All of me must fully rest in all of Him. Maybe you are struggling like I am. I don’t know your heart, but if it is human like mine you probably are. Let’s go to this Rock together, broken and needy, and lets receive the restoration and rest He promises in His presence.
The end of his posting called for prayer for Japan, and relief help for those who live in over 200 miles of coastal cities and villages that were completely wiped out or evacuated due to radiation. Danny and a team of students from RTS are leaving after midterms to spend Spring break serving others in Japan.
2 Samuel 22:2–7 (ESV) – “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. 4 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 5 “For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; 6 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 7 “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.