Perhaps the best-prepared nation on earth, Japan struggles to deliver on relief to quake survivors—up to half a million displaced—and faith-based groups are finding ways to step into the gaps.
Less than 48 hours after a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami decimated Japan's northeastern coastline, Luke Cummings managed a feat that many relief workers initially struggled to accomplish: He rushed headlong into the devastation. The 25-year-old American—who grew up in a missionary family in Japan—drove a van from his home in Tokyo to the hard-hit Sendai region, where his parents live and work, to deliver food and supplies to reeling communities. Four days later, Cummings offered a chilling firsthand account of the overwhelming devastation in coastal towns: "It's as if the atomic bomb went off."
The unfolding disaster was particularly striking for a country considered the world's best-prepared for earthquakes. The island nation in the so-called Ring of Fire—an arc of volcanic and earthquake zones in the Pacific where some 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur—maintains high standards for quake-ready structures and an advanced earthquake warning system. Japanese rescue and relief workers cultivate meticulous disaster-response plans. But the best-laid plans couldn't prepare for a trio of simultaneous disasters: quake, tsunami, and a nuclear power plant in meltdown. That left gaps the government couldn't fill, and opened opportunities for select aid groups and individuals to help with needs that will last far beyond the initial disaster. The World Bank estimated that the disaster caused $235 billion in damages, and that reconstruction may take five years. (The country's 1995 Kobe earthquake killed 6,000 victims and left $100 billion in damages.)
The most acute needs remained humanitarian, and one of the biggest sources of help came from one of the nation's smallest minorities: Christians working through churches to deliver aid and hope to a nation confronting profound needs—both physical and spiritual.
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ALMOST 500 single women and lesbians have used IVF and other fertility treatments in the past year in Victoria.
Taxpayers are subsidising the women who plan to raise children without biological dads, theHerald Sun reported.The law was changed in January 2010 to allow Medicare rebates for women who are not infertile to access assisted reproduction.IVF clinics are reporting a significant number of women accessing their services for the first time in Victoria.The upsurge includes TV and radio personality Sami Lukis, who has gone public about her desire to access IVF using donor sperm to have a baby as a 40-year-old single woman.One in three women having children is now unmarried - up from 16 per cent in the 1980s.
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The images of Japan that have recently streamed across our TV screens have been in stark contrast to the usual beauty and tranquility we know of rural Japan or even the precision and focus of modern, industrial Japan. And perhaps it is, in part, because of this contrast, that the stunning pictures of a Japan devastated by earthquake and tsunami have caused such shock and disbelief around the world; though how can anyone really fathom the sheer magnitude of such destruction?
Disaster creates, not only crises, but questions. Natural catastrophe, like many sicknesses and accidents, leaves us with a host of valid questions about theology, morality and the nature of God. The atheist would conclude: that's life, random and meaningless. The philosopher would suggest that, if God is God He is not good; if God is good He is not God, or such catastrophes would not occur. Others would seek to explain all suffering as a consequence of sin. In contrast, we know to trust the wisdom and sovereignty of God without making Him the author of sin. God is unchanging. He doesn't vacillate between good and evil. He is merciful and compassionate. Psalm 66 is thought to have been written during a time of national distress yet we realise this is a song of praise, not for a tragedy that occurred, but for the unseen work of God during a crisis. It clearly illustrates the dependency of man on the greatness of God during times of trouble. It has been said that God is too kind to do anything cruel..too wise to make a mistake and too deep to explain Himself. Simply put, trust God's wisdom when you fail to understand His great purposes.
So ultimately the question for all of us is, ' How do we react or respond now?' Just as the psalmist cried out to God, so too, should we pray for those in need. Pray then for those who are hurting and those that are grieving over loss of life and livelihood. Pray for those who question and wonder what is happening. Pray, too, for those who lead the recovery efforts. (Gifford- Lifeway)
OneWay Ministries has produced a wonderful Prayercast of Japan. Watch this as you prayerfully focus on this nation and the aftermath of this disaster.
'The public disintegration of a television and film celebrity like Charlie Sheen is not only tragic and sad, but tragic and sad because it reflects the core sickness of an entertainment-saturated, celebrity-worshipping culture. Sheen is as much or more a news item for his public rantings as he is for his acting,' writes Dr Michael Milton.
'Charlie Sheen has become a living lesson of what can happen to anyone who lives life without the God-ordained values that give meaning to life: faith, family, and self sacrifice.' So, how can we ensure that we are passing on a family legacy that reflects those values? Research suggests that most fathers will parent the way they were parented. That means only a minority of fathers will change their parenting style — even if their parenting is wrong!
Hope is not lost. Consider the story of Josiah from the Old Testament in the Bible. His father and grandfather were involved in many wicked things, including idol worship that threatened the entire nation. But after 8-year-old Josiah became king of Judah, he reversed that trend. He sought God and purged Judah of idols, repaired the temple and saved a nation. Like Josiah, you can choose which things in your legacy are no good and throw them away. It's important to break the cycle of hurt by leaving bad things behind and creating a new legacy. If you don't know God, this is a good time to introduce yourself. Legacies are not easily broken and always benefit from His guidance.
Evaluate how well you are passing on a spiritual legacy to your children by answering these questions from Focus on the Family. Then, chart a new course as you begin a positive legacy for yourself and those you love.
Answer each question by circling the number that best reflects the legacy you have received from your parents. Then add up your score.
Last week, we highlighted clear communication with your kids. Communication, and, in particular, our use of words is important in a family setting but also beyond, in the workplace and during our day-to-day activities. Paul warns us in Galatians 5:15, "Watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." We will never win the war of words as long as we minimize how critical a battle it is. The most powerful way we influence each other is through words, which encourage, rebuke, explain, teach, define, condemn, love, question, divide, unite, sell, counsel, judge, reconcile, war, worship, slander, and edify. People have influence and words have power. It is the way God meant it to be.
As I write this, it grieves me to think about the amount of talk in my family that does not recognize the seriousness Paul gives it here. No, we don't have "knock-down-drag-out" battles, but there is a lot of thoughtless, unkind, irritated, and complaining talk that slips by every day. I think we are like many Christian families—we minimize these "little" sins of talk because our home is free of physical and verbal abuse and we really do love one another. But Paul's words yank us back to reality. Words that "bite and devour" are words that destroy. They are not okay.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the