Explode With Praise, Japan: Part 3

Global Mission Center: Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

Within a day of the tsunami crashing up against the shore, residents of Iwaki and Pastor Akira Mori of Global Mission Center were praying and responding. Just two days later tons of supplies were sent to the church building. Mori and his team received donations from all over Japan, to then distribute and clean-up, a process that continued for 6 months and truly hasn’t been completed a year later. Since March 12th of last year Global Mission Center has been receiving volunteers from all over Japan, all over the nations. Their facilities are abuzz with life, joy and thankful hearts, people willing to serve in whatever way they can, just wanting to love Japan. From holding bbq’s to cleaning out seaweed factories and parading joyful music through temporary housing units, volunteers do whatever the Lord leads them to do, dropping unexpected blessings throughout the city and among the survivors.

The scene: May 2011, A woman lies lifeless under her blanket. Her room, just long enough for her body and wide enough for two feels too large. Although she’s 72 years old she’s always lived with her sister. Unfortunately, due to the lottery system, her sister and she were selected for different housing units. Now they’re 45 minutes apart, farther than they’ve ever been, and with no car, no knowledge of their surroundings they might as well be nations apart. She tries to be grateful that her sister survived, but some nights it’s easier to mourn a loved one rather than acknowledge that her lifeblood is still out there, alone. Guilt takes hold and the tiny housing unit feels less like a home and more like a cell, a prison from which she can’t escape. Doesn’t want to escape. Although many people have come by and knocked on the, door she never opens. Volunteers and neighbors leave supplies and fliers outside. From the outside you’d think the place was abandoned.

Until one day a strange thing happened. Young people come with guitars, with drums, a flute and with song. It was a distant sound at first as they marched up the hill to where the survivors had been relocated. But the noise grows and one by one the joyous parade of worshipers sings and dances their way through the aisles of steal doors. Children join the chorus first, playing and shouting as the worship spreads. Curious residents poked their heads out of the door and pulled their shade open. What was this? From the small crowd of believers their melody rises,

Let the silence be broken, and the winter be done
Will you come out of your hiding, kiss me sweet warm sun
Let the wind of your spirit blow the dust off my feet
I ran to you broken but now I am complete

They sing their prayers to the desperate ones, the lonely ones, the sisters shut up in their homes, too tired to hope for a better day. They sing for healing and wholeness to be restored to Japan

We know you’re in there, you children of the Most Holy God, we know the days are dark and the nights even darker

Today the silence is broken, the winter is done

Come out, young and old, come out of your hiding. Kiss him, Son who’s rising over Japan

He’s coming with the wind of His Spirit to blow the dust off your feet

Run to him, all you broken, and He will make you complete

She slipped on her shoes and stood up as tall as her 4’8″ body could allow. To see the commotion. To come into the light. It was too bright at first. After 6 weeks in the dark, six weeks in sadness, six weeks in hiding. And the parade came around, the song rose loud. Her blood began to flow. The flute went wild and the children twirled round. First her head poked out and then with a single step her 90lb frame shook heaven. They stopped for a moment to welcome her out, to welcome her home and welcome her back,

Hello Promise Land, we’ve waited for so long
To see what we’ve believed in, to sing this Promise Land song
Explode my soul, explode with praise
What he promised is what he gave

Back at the Global Mission Center the group of young people reported on their activities during the nightly meeting.  “It was fun. We met some survivors and had a good time praising the Lord.” A couple old people came out to listen, there was this one lady who seemed very interested. I guess we’ll never know the fruit…”

Back on her futon, alone again, numbness trying to creep in. She sang the song she heard that day,

Now the silence be broken, and the winter is done
I’ve come out from my hiding, kiss me sweet warm Son
Let the wind of your spirit blow the dust off my feet
I run to you broken, now make me complete

As the nightly testimonies wrap up, the voices rise from GMC,

Hello Promise Land, we’ve waited for so long
To see what we’ve believed in, to sing this Promise Land song
Explode my soul, explode with praise!
What he promised is what he gave!

To listen to the song by Jonathan and Melissa Helser follow the link below.

Explode My Soul

Continue to pray for Japan. The issue of loneliness, hopelessness and depression isn’t restricted to temporary housing. Many survivors have returned to their homes without their loved ones. Others haven’t been directly effected but are still under the heaviness that lies over all of Japan. Pray that the Church would explode with praise and cause darkness to flee!

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Explode with Praise, Japan: Part 2

Mobile Cafe: Kneeling under the knee high tables men and women gather with foreigners and Japanese alike to share coffee and tea. For nearly a year relief workers have been visiting residents of temporary housing units, setting up coffee pots, tables and treats to encourage residents to come out of their isolation to share time and space with other humans. A mobile cafe.

The scene: An elderly man talks with a smile. As he nibbles on his cookie his smile grows. Ten minutes later he’s eating the same cookie. His smile is forced, like a dam trying to hold back a wall of tears on the inside. Until the dam breaks and words come flowing out. He lives alone now. He’d been married for over 50 years, but his dearest friend and partner was lost in the tsunami.    Through a cracked voice, “I don’t know how to cook for one. I keep cooking for two and ending up with leftovers. I forget she’s not with me.”

Picture this: opening the mini fridge to a wall of tupperware. She’s gone, you have to remind yourself. One egg, not two. The lonliness is exhausting. In childlike desperation you leave your unit and wander over to a cafe that foreigners have put together. No more energy to hide, no attempt at self-preservation, “I don’t think I’ll live to see the summer”, you say to the relief workers, “I don’t want to”.  A monster has taken up residence in your head, suicide, a destructive demon who parades himself as your own thoughts. As you tell your story to the volunteers they put their hands on your shoulder and pray to an unknown God for healing and deliverance. In your own words you agree,

Explode my soul, let these walls come down
All these prison thoughts crumble with the sound
Of my deliverance from my enemies
I stand up beside you, let’s watch these giants flee

There are many in Japan who are trapped behind the walls of their own fear, behind old concepts of shame and self-hatred, behind a tormenting desire to die. As believers we have authority to uproot and tear down. Let’s pray for Japan that walls would be torn down and hearts would be made accessible to Jesus, to joy and to healing.

Explode, Japan, with a revelation of safety and acceptance. Come, share your story, your loss and your grief, let your walls come down. So many prison thoughts, condemnation and fear. Crumble under the love of Christ and be delivered from your enemies. We’re with you Japan, standing alongside you, the world, the Church, the Trinity and all his heaven hosts…we came rushing in to watch your giants flee. Abundant life will scatter your enemies, will cause suicide to flee. Lonliness be torn down and intimacy be established. Explode with praise, Japan, and let your walls come down. 

To hear the song follow the link

Explode My Soul

Stay tuned for the rest of the “Explode with Praise” series this week. 

Explode With Praise, Japan: Part 1

A Four Part Devo adapted from the lyrics of “Explode My Soul”, by David and Melissa Helser

Part 1: Temporary Housing

Let me set the stage:

A small community in rural Japan.  Untouched by the tsunami but effected by the hundreds of new residents who’ve moved in. A different culture. A different dialect. Rumors that they’ve been contaminated. Some people say they carry high levels of radiation and mothers don’t want their children by them. Schools don’t know what to do with them. The youngest of the pilgrims are bullied and the oldest find it difficult to start new work.

Now listen, let your heart be still and hear the cry of thousands of Japanese who had to flee. They’ve been living in steel boxes, many of them, and have little if any hope of ever returning home. As they lay down together, closely knit, some sharing a futon or huddled under the same duvet, they pray to a nameless God,

Whisper my name, so only I can hear
Call to my heart, chase away my fears
Stand up in this place, fight for the one you love
Won’t you come surround me, so I can rise above

Many, most of them don’t know to find refuge in the Father. So we pray for them:

Whisper their name, Jesus, so intimately each one would hear. 

Call to their hearts, Father, that your love would chase away their fears. 

Fear of death, fear of life, fear of  being left alone…

Stand up in this region, Jesus, fight for the ones you love. 

You will come, Holy Spirit, and surround them so they can rise above

depression, suicide, hopelessness and apathy. 

Surround your lost children so they can rise above. 

To listen to the song, follow the link

Explode My Soul

Stay tuned for the rest of the “Explode with Praise” series this week. 

Praying for the Land

A Prayer For Ichinoseki

(7-10 min excercise)

view from Ichinoseki hill top

Today Wendy and I are traveling to Tohoku. We’ll meet up with friends in Semmaya, a distant small-town cousin to Ichinoseki that comes into vision after a 40 minute train ride through the countryside. There’s something about this region that strikes a chord in my heart. It was behind a temporary housing unit that I heard the Father’s voice, “Please don’t leave me alone here, Katie.” I was ruined. I know the Lord is never alone, but he had allowed me to feel his own desperate desire for friends in Semmaya. I’m looking forward to going back today and listening again.

A Meditation from Psalm 63

Read: O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You.  In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Breathing In: Ask the Lord to increase your hunger for him.

Breathing Out: Invite him to provoke thirst in the town of Semmaya.

Take a couple minutes. As you breathe in meditate on your need for God. Be satisfied in him while you be still and invite his presence. When you breathe out pray for His Spirit to move freely in Semmaya. If you need to, go back to Psalm 63:1. Remind yourself that souls are thirsty for God until he comes with his living water.

Read: Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Breathing In: Thank the Lord for being near. He is with you when you call on Him

Breathing Out: Pray that families in Semmaya would see God, that they would experience his power and glory.

Take a couple more minutes. Praise the Lord while you breathe in and pray for God encounters in Semmaya when you breathe out. Be open to the Lord encountering you in this moment. If he gives you any pictures, words, song lyrics write them down.

Read: Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

Breathing In: As you go about your day be mindful to be thankful for God’s love. Praise him with your words. He has chosen to bless you all the days of your life!

Breathing Out: While you’re out and about pray that the Spirit of gratitude and joy would fall in Semmaya, that soon many would be lifting up their hands in worship to Jesus!