Faith in Times of Disaster


 The earthquake and tsunami are abrupt reminders that Creation, with its beauty and wonder; also is unpredictable and sometimes brings calamity and catastrophe. At a time such as this words of faith from our hymnody give us food for thought:

God of the earthquake, God of the storm, God of the trumpet blast,
How does the creature say, “Woe?” How does the creature say, “Save?”
God of the ages, God near at hand, God of the loving heart,
 How do your children say, “Joy?” How do you children say, “Home?”
                                                                (Jaroslav J. Vajda)
The images of the disaster in Japan quickly found their way into our homes through the miracle of technology. These images caused concern for those immediately affected. As time goes on, the world is now becoming more aware of the breadth of the destruction. Reports are just beginning to count the cost in human life, property damage and destruction and loss.
Likewise, we are now (as I write this) awaiting word about property in our own Annual Conference along the Oregon coast. Properties such as our churches on the coast and our beloved Camp Magruder are still in danger zones. We have indications that the tsunami on the Oregon coast will not be devastating, but we are still concerned. Our own Annual Conference Disaster Relief Committee is standing ready to respond to any emergency needs on the Oregon coast. 
I am mindful of colleagues and friends in Japan who are living in the aftermath of the destruction, amid loss and suffering. Gratefully, our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is already responding. If you would like to contribute to the UMCOR response to the earthquake, you may do so by writing a check to your local church and indicating it is for “Pacific Emergency.” Gifts may also be given online at the UMCOR Website.
Join me in prayer as we ask for God’s mercy and care in a time of devastation, loss and woe. Turn to God for comfort and reassurance in all difficult times, through Jesus Christ. Remember that God is our refuge, our eternal home! From Eugene Peterson’s Message comes a statement of our faith that God is “ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.” (Psalm 46: 1 – 3)
What are YOUR prayers in this moment of faith? Please leave a prayer for the people of Japan, or for others that are in need of God’s grace this day!


Bob Hoshibata
Robert Hoshibata is Bishop of the Phoenix Area of The United Methodist Church and presides over the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. Hoshibata presided over the Oregon-Idaho Conference from 2004-2012 and his blog postings are here for reference.