Japan (MNN) — Japanese officials are presenting conflicting messages about the nuclear emergency at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Some suggest stored fuel rods are exposed, risking complete meltdown which would create even more problems for the nation.
That, coupled with the earthquake and tsunami damage, has Japanese people in a place they haven't been since the Japanese Emperor denounced his divinity after World War Two, creating a spiritual vacuum there.
Neal Hicks has spent 30 years working in Japan with The Mission Society. His co-workers are okay, but two of them, Koz and Emiko Kinoshita, have lost loved ones. Emiko just returned from a visit to her family in Onagawa. "That town no longer exists. It's totally gone. Emiko and Koz are just in shock and disbelief. Her immediate family and all her relatives — all gone."
This story is being repeated all over the region. And the uncertainty of the nuclear issues has the entire nation on edge. Hick says many Japanese who have become so materialistic and almost agnostic are changing. "Their gods of money, self reliance and even technology have failed them miserably, and they are absolutely shaken to the core and don't know which way to turn."
Less than 1% of the Japanese population is evangelical Christian.
According to Hicks, there has not been anything like this since WWII that's prompted the Japanese to turn from their 'no-god' god to the living God. "The Japanese are once again shaken. They're asking eternal questions again. We have another window of opportunity, and there are missionaries in Japan who are prepared to communicate the Gospel."
"I think it is probably one of the most opportune moments–at least in the last 50 to 60 years since the war–that we've ever had," says Hicks.