Friday, April 01, 2011

The one catastrophe that struck so close to home

I know this might seem a bit outdated, but I (like probably millions of others) was glued to the Internet over the past few weeks.

Alright, not just for Facebook or blogger but for the latest updates on the nuclear crisis, tsunami and earthquake in Japan.

To be honest, these catastrophes seem to be happening much more frequent these days and within a shorter timespan of each other that I do feel a bit numbed to the suffering of people.

BUT, Japan was different.


Because I personally knew my Jap. friend and her 1-year old baby who went back to Tokyo to visit her family a few days before the disaster struck.

It was the first time that I was seriously concerned about the welfare of Japan because I knew 2 people there.

Her hubby was in Germany so he emailed us often to update us about his wife and son.

We prayed together as a cellgroup and as a church for God to intervene in Japan, that there wouldn't be a nuclear meltdown and the Japanese people would somehow get through this difficult period.

There's always this age-old question of "If God is a good God, why does He allow disasters like the one in Japan to happen?"

There's really no satisfactory answer I know to this question. But I do know that God is a good God and He has proven His love for us in that He sent Jesus to die for our sins and thereby paving the way for us to be reconciled with God. That, in itself, is the biggest evidence of a loving God.

We, however live in a fallen world. We are given freewill and we have used that freewill for either good or evil. Nuclear power for instance, in  my opinion shouldn't be something that we continue to use in the next few generations.

Its a good servant but a seriously evil master. And there's no controlling a nuclear meltdown. As seen from Japan, which possessed one of the world's highest standards of safety in nuclear energy, even that was insufficient to prevent the crisis of the last few weeks.

What happened in Japan led to a shutdown of 7 nuclear plants in Germany while they performed more extensive checks on the safety standards of the reactors. In my opinion though, it was simply a political strategy for the ex-reigning government to pull more votes before the crucial election in Baden-W├╝rttemberg last Sunday - which was to no avail as the ruling party has been overtaken by the opposition parties for the first time in 58 years!

Germany is pretty much divided on the nuclear issue as well. However, there's an increasing proportion of people who are becoming strong advocates for renewable and safer energy sources. This I believe, is a positive move in the right direction.

Anyway, I didn't want this post to be about nuclear power.

I wanted it to be about passivity in the face of natural disasters across the world.

I'll be the first person to admit that I'm not active when it comes to responding to a disaster.

I'll pray and read the news for a couple of days, but the news would somewhat fade into oblivion as soon as the sensation dies down or the next "big" thing fills headlines across the world.

This time though, in line with my church's sermons of being active and being a responsible world citizen in the light that one day we will meet God and He will hold us accountable about what we did for the Japanese / people in Haiti and all, I have decided that I wanted to do something.

My friend started a donation drive for Japan. But we were hesitating about donating to this fund because of numerous reports that cited Japan's refusal to accept financial aid from external sources.

It was easy for us to say, "Oh well, they ain't going to accept my financial aid anyway, so why should I donate?".

But upon hubby's persuasion, I researched more and realized that the Japanese Red Cross has accepted US$10million from the American Red Cross and on the former's website, they said that donors can donate money directly to their local Red Cross organizations, which would then transfer the money to Japan.

So yup, I got the confirmation I needed to do a bank transfer to this emergency fund to Germany's Red Cross.

My point is, I was actually happy that I got off my lazy butt to do something! I mean, in the light of the scale of destruction, our contribution could be like one drop in the ocean. But I believe many drops make a rivers and many rivers make an ocean - you get the picture.

I hope that this would start something in myself to be an active instead of passive onlooker of suffering.

Since my friend and her baby got back to Germany, I heard her first-hand account of the situation in Tokyo and I'm beginning to realize that every catastrophe strikes each individual so immensely. We look at statistics of the dead, wounded or displaced and go "Oh man, how can that happen?" but that's about as far as it goes.

But that was in the past. I want to be sensitive to God and ask Him, "Lord how can I help? Please give me your heart and love for these people. Help me not to be de-sensitized but awaken in me a heart of compassion and to be your hands and feet in this world."


cyn said...

Yup Pris. I guess I'm like you when it comes to being an active world citizen. I'll probably be active when the hype is all in the news, but this will soon be at the back of my mind once the sensation dies down.

I'm personally concerned about the Japan quake as I have an aunt and two cousins living in Japan. It was really awful during the first couple of days after disaster struck and my aunt said she felt the earth move 5 times in an hour. Although she tried to make her anecdotes sound as cheerful and humourous as possible, I could tell that there was a deep sense of fear inside her because she ended off her email with "If I don't get through this, you know that I love you all".

I teared when I read that. Really felt like telling her to come home with her children, but I knew she was there for a purpose. God's purpose. Having no electricity and heating for the next week with more aftershocks didn't make things better either. I just hope that wherever she is, she will be safe and so will her children.

Pris said...

Hey Cyn!

I know what you mean. That's why I wrote this entr too.

Oh wow. What's your Aunt and her family doing in Japan? Which part of Japan do they live in?

A disaster becomes so close when one personally knows someone affected by it!

cyn said...

My aunt works for a private English centre in Japan where she teaches English to both children and adults, something like WallStreet. Her daughter is studying in high school and is only 17 this year. Her elder son is in a private university. As for her husband, I'm not too sure as they are divorced. Anyway, I'm not too concerned about her husband, but more like my aunt's and my younger cousin's safety.

Things are not getting any better with the frequent news reports that there are either more after shocks or a new earthquake or that the nuclear reactor is giving way.

Too many unhappy events happening around me that at times, I tend to ask God why is He doing all this. Of course, I know I have to trust Him and know that everything happens for a purpose, but sometimes, I guess, I'm too anxious to get answers that I fail to listen to Him. Sigh....I just hope things will only get better, and not worse.

cyn said...

Oh by the way, they live in Saitama and Hiratsuka. Towns far away from the quake epicentre and nuclear reactors.

Pris said...

Hey Cyn

I think its only natural to worry about your Aunt and her family. I was too before my friend and her baby came back to Germany.

I keep reminding myself that God is sovereign and He knows the beginning from the end. The thing in Japan didn't catch God by surprise. And I believe He has a plan for the Japanese people too.

I think at times like this, its more important to remind ourselves about the character of God as proven in history and present, than to concern ourselves with the "whys". There just won't be any answer to all the "whys" on this side of eternity.

Good to hear that your Aunt her family do live quite far from the reactors. That's a relief!


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