(Pray for) Zimbabwe


Peoples
Peoples: 44 (7% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
The Church has grown in numbers and passion amidst great trials, even as the country disintegrates all around. The state failed the population, and while many find refuge in spirituality and faith, churches also work hard to meet the many desperate physical and social needs they encounter.
Challenge for Prayer
Zimbabwe’s desperate situation would be farcical were it not so tragic. Suffering has reached unprecedented levels; intransigent misrule and deluded finger-pointing have prevented solution finding. State-endorsed violence and even murder and frequent human rights violations target members of non-ZANU-PF parties, the media and social activists. Pray for Zimbabwe’s leadership, that God might bring humility and a servant attitude or else put leaders in place who will govern for the sake of the people and for the restoration of the nation.



(Pray for) Yemen


Peoples
Peoples: 28 (61% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Increasing numbers have encountered Jesus. Despite difficult circumstances – opposition from culture, religion and families – increasing numbers are finding life in Christ. Through radio broadcasts, Bible distribution, tactful faith sharing and the Lord’s use of dreams and visions, God is drawing more and more people to Himself. At this point, they meet secretly and only in small groups. Praise God for the growing number of followers of Jesus who are learning how to honour their culture and family while still being faithful to the Lord. Fewer seek to emigrate as they understand that they can be faithful followers without travelling to the West.
Challenge for Prayer
Yemen has suffered almost unending conflict over the last four decades – three civil wars, conflict with neighbouring states, the effects of the Gulf War, Somalia’s collapse into anarchy, the Ethiopian/Eritrean war and tribal skirmishes. Tensions between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims make Yemen ripe for sectarian violence, to the point of insurgencies or even outright civil war. The treasured right of Yemenis to bear arms fuels tribal rivalries, while kidnapping, crime and sabotage are common forms of protest and fundraising. There are between three and four firearms for each person in the country. Pray for a fair and just government that will bring about national unity and peace.



The Pastor and Personal Criticism

C. J. Mahaney’s article “The Pastor and Personal Criticism” (PDF) is now available. You can read the PDF or see the individual blog posts below:
  1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism
  2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives
  3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism
  4. A Kind and Painful Bruising
  5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives
  6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait
  7. Deal Gently with Your Critics
  8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized
  9. Too High an Estimation
  10. Distinguishing Criticism
  11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God)




(Pray for) X


“X” is for “X marks the spot”.  Today, “X” equals your country.  Visit Operation World for some prayer information on the place where you live - “X” marks the spot!  For me, that’s Canada!

Peoples
Peoples: 156 (10% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
The strong legacy of parliamentary democracy has been influenced and shaped by Christian faith across all major parties. The proportion of elected members of parliament who are committed Christians is much higher than the average population.
Challenge for Prayer
The influence of Christianity has seen a long, sustained decline in Canadian society, not just in numbers but also in public presence. This is ostensibly for two main reasons:

a) Increased and deliberate pluralization and secularization. The non-religious population has made the greatest gains in recent years, but other religions are also growing rapidly through immigration and high birthrates. As with several other Western nations, biblical Christianity faces significant antipathy from the media and popular culture.

b) A failure of relevance, morals, and theological and spiritual dynamism in the Church. Protestants and Anglicans together numbered 45% in 1950, but are now only 11%. In each denomination, the degree of theological liberalization – especially in the mainline United Church and in Anglicanism – has generally coincided with the rate of decline. On the positive side, this fading of Christendom has trimmed the “deadwood” from churches, but it still reflects a sad decline in the influence of the gospel in Canada. Pray for a much-needed revival, starting in the Church and radiating outward.



Timothy Brindle Sale!


Grab it up!!

(Pray for) Wallis & Futuna Islands


Answer to Prayer
Evangelical numbers are increasing through the missionary efforts of Pentecostals from New Caledonia. Action Missionaire Cal├ędonienne has sent several New Caledonian missionaries to Wallis and Futuna, yielding dozens of new believers. Pray for a greater growth of this wonderful development – Pacific Islanders reaching cross-culturally to other Pacific Islanders.
Challenge for Prayer
The Catholic Church and Polynesian culture and social structures are so interwoven that adherence to Christianity is often more outward than through a living, personal faith. Pray for firsthand faith for these two island peoples.



(Pray for) Vietnam


Peoples
Peoples: 114 (56% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
A growing, witnessing Church is emerging from years of persecution. Catholic and Protestant, new expression and old, a significant turning to God is occurring in different places, in both registered and unregistered churches, and among different people groups. The Vietnamese diaspora is also seeing many become believers. These converts then bring the gospel back to Vietnam with them. There are three main groups where church growth is occurring:

a) Among the mountain tribal peoples of central and southern Vietnam. Praise God for preservation and growth – by some estimates as great as nine-fold increase in just over thirty years! This occurred despite cruel persecution on the part of the government.

b) Among the Hmong and other minority peoples of Northern Vietnam. The 1990s saw the Church grow rapidly among the Hmong from no believers in 1988 to estimates of up to 400,000 just two decades later, catalyzed by FEBC radio broadcasting. House church movements among Northern peoples have spread.

c) Among the ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) themselves. Although much more modest among this group, clear church growth is happening, in the formally recognized Evangelical Church of Vietnam [which actually consists of two separate organizations, one in the north EVCN(N) and one in the south EVCN(S)], in other, smaller but registered denominations and in the unregistered church networks as well. A Christmas gathering and service in Ho Chi Minh City in 2009 attracted 40,000 people.
Challenge for Prayer
One of the few Communist nations in the 21st Century, Vietnam faces new challenges. Repression of all types of freedom continues, but at the same time, social ills are on the rise. Drug addiction, AIDS, prostitution and exploitation of children are all too common. The land has seen great violence. Division and mistrust have been effective tools in the enemy’s hands in recent generations. Pray that the ideological and moral darkness over this nation might be banished by the light of the gospel.



(Pray for) Uraguay


Peoples
Peoples: 30 (3% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Spirituality is increasing. A high degree of secularization persists, but many thousands of non-religious and nominal Christians are discovering in the postmodern era a spiritual dimension that has been missing from their lives, and churches are growing as a result.
Challenge for Prayer
Uruguayan society has been characterized by secularism and hope in man for over 100 years. The Catholic Church espoused liberation theology and failed to attend to the spiritual needs of Uruguayans. Catholicism may lay claim to 55% of the population, but only 2.3% attend Mass. Most Catholics are, in practice, non-religious. Such godlessness has in turn led to some of the highest rates of depression, suicide, abortion and divorce in Latin America. Pray for the Lord, through His Church, to radically transform Uruguayan society for His glory.



(Pray for) Turkey


Peoples
Peoples: 60 (63% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
The opening of Turkey to EU influence and its own developing role as a regional diplomatic force. Both invite increased possibilities for sharing the gospel in Turkey.
Challenge for Prayer
Turkey is a nation torn in different directions. Straddling Europe and Asia, neither Middle Eastern nor Western, Turkish society is secular yet Muslim. Critical to shaping the nation’s future are several issues that must be addressed. Pray for leaders who will act justly and wisely, focused on the welfare of all who call Turkey home. Pray for:

a) The rivalry between secular Turkish nationalism and Islamism. Legality of the hijab (Islamic headscarf) has been a flashpoint for this division. While the constitution, judiciary and military are secular and notionally meant to uphold religious freedom, secular Turks can be as anti-Western, anti-minority and anti-Christian as any hardline Islamists. Wahhabist influences help to fuel fundamentalist Islam, while hardline nationalism is also strong and rising. Pray that Turkey might steer a moderate path between these twin dangers.

b) The issue of membership in the European Union. Some strive to introduce necessary reforms for greater integration with Europe (especially on human rights, religious freedom and Kurdish, Armenian and Cypriot issues). Others aim towards leadership of a Turkic bloc of nations and an increased role in the Middle East. The tension between introducing modernity and retaining traditional roots is difficult to resolve.

c) Challenges facing the political realm. The role of the military within the state needs adjusting to allow for democratic functioning of the civil government. Recent moves toward multi-cultural and multi-religious democratization have ushered this challenge to the fore, with the resulting national identity crisis provoking a notably reactionary response. A power struggle rages between the secularists and pro-Islamic/freedoms groups. Serious failings in human rights must be addressed, and likewise for the Kurdish issue which has cost the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians.



(Pray for) Sudan


Peoples
Peoples: 246 (56% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005, has held since then and allowed the war-torn south to attempt rebuilding some semblance of infrastructure and stability. A heavy presence of northern military and militias remains in the south, as do widely held questions of how long the peace will last. But peace, however tenuous, and the opportunity to plan and build for the future continue for now.
Challenge for Prayer
Sudan has known only war for its entire modern history. Violence is rife throughout Sudan, which is regarded as one of the world’s least stable nations. The belligerent government/military waged war against restive populations in the south, west and east at massive human and economic cost to its own citizens. With such religious, ethnic and linguistic diversity added to civil conflicts and hostile relations with neighbours, peace is nearly impossible. Pray for sweeping change at the highest levels and throughout the land – for repentance, restitution and rebuilding of communal life.



(Pray for) Russia


Peoples
Peoples: 162 (47% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
The fall of the Iron Curtain opened Eastern Europe and Central Asia to unprecedented access to the good news – opportunities for evangelism, church planting, re-establishing a Christian infrastructure, many partnering networks, theological education and Bible translation and distribution. Churches more than doubled in number and in size, and those identifying themselves as non-religious or atheist dropped by more than half from pre-1991.
Challenge for Prayer
Russia is a proud nation with a great legacy, but it remains a mystery and a contradiction. Some see a bleak future, others a resurgent Russia. Some regard the last decade or two as an economic disaster; others see growth and strength. For centuries, it was systematically plundered by those who held sway, from the Tsars to the Communists to the oligarchs. Most Russians still see a grim outlook. For the nostalgic older generation, the stability of life under the Communists is preferred; for the younger generation, modern life offers little real hope. Pray especially for the following long-term cultural issues:

a) Demographics reveal a civilization caught in a deadly decline. Russia’s population drops by over 500,000 each year. Such a rapid numerical decline spells certain doom for populations unable to reverse the trend. Russia’s birthrate is among the lowest in the world; even generous incentives to produce children are not effective. Conversely, Russia’s abortion rate remains one of the world’s highest. Figures indicate more abortions than live births, with an alarmingly high number also resulting in the mother’s death.

b) Health issues are spiralling to crisis level. Health care is inefficient, underfunded and costly, making it inaccessible to many – just when it is most urgently needed:
     i The alcoholism rate in Russia is one of the world’s highest. Increased incidences of disease, homicide and suicide can in large part be attributed to the low prices and wide availability of cheap, illegal and often poisonous vodka; Russia sells over 2 billion litres each year.
     ii Drug addiction controls the lives of as many as 2.5 million people. The government claimed at one point that 8% of teens used drugs daily. The increased prevalence of hard drugs has led to mafia involvement and control. Ministry to drug addicts is a fruitful area for Christians – and a necessary one.
     iii Russia has Europe’s highest and fastest-rising rate of HIV/AIDS. This, combined with tuberculosis, raises mortality rates and drastically reduces life expectancy. HIV claims mostly young people, further robbing Russia of its future.

c) Russian nationalism and its outworkings. Strong nationalistic sentiment has existed for centuries, from religious Orthodox Russia to the Soviet era to the modern day. But complex 21st Century trends seem to be leading to irrevocable troubles.
     i Racist nationalism is increasing. Nazi-style expressions are growing more popular among Russian Slavs as an expression of identity and “patriotism”. This has led to more powerful, far-right political groups, but also to thuggery against visible minorities and immigrants. Such racist attacks increased by 30% in 2008 alone, forcing the president to take measures to address this issue.
     ii Nationalism in foreign policy and Russification internally, reasserted under Putin’s leadership, often led to belligerence, particularly in Chechnya and other Caucasus regions. Pray for good relations with foreign powers and with minority republics within the Russian Federations.

d) Minority groups from within the former Soviet Union face exploitation and rejection by the very ones who colonized them through Russian imperialism and then Communism. Millions of Central Asian immigrants work in Russian cities, most of them undocumented and uncounted in census figures. The great irony is that without these workers, the Russian economy would violently contract; and without massive-scale immigration in the future, Russia may become a pale shadow of its former self.



Involuntary, unwanted, inescapable

“I date my break [from atheism] from a very casual happening.  I was sitting in our apartment on St. Paul Street in Baltimore. . . . My daughter was in her high chair.  I was watching her eat.  She was the most miraculous thing that had ever happened in my life.  I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor.  My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear — those intricate, perfect ears.  The thought passed through my mind: ‘No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature.  They could have been created only by immense design.’  The thought was involuntary and unwanted.  I crowded it out of my mind.  But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion.  I had to crowd it out of my mind.  If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God.  I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.”
Whittaker Chambers, Witness (New York, 1953), page 16.




(Pray for) Qatar


Peoples
Peoples: 23 (30% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Qatar’s Christian communities have been offered land on which to build the first churches in Qatar since Islam’s arrival. A Catholic facility will be followed by Anglican and Protestant buildings. Pray that this will enable greater unity, effective discipling of believers and sensitive sharing of faith.
Challenge for Prayer
Qatari believers number but a few. From Arab, Persian and Bantu (former slaves) extraction, Qataris are almost without exception Muslim. Pray that a Qatari church would be birthed and that Qataris at home and abroad would hear about Jesus.



(Pray for) Pakistan


Peoples
Peoples: 463 (97% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Prayer movements within Pakistan – and for Pakistan from abroad – have quickly multiplied and grown. Thousands intercede for breaking events, emerging needs and long-standing challenges. A troubled land such as Pakistan surely stands in need of prayer.
Challenge for Prayer
Pakistan’s government alternates between inept civilian parties crippled by infighting and corruption, and autocratic military dictatorships. Economic and social development is then hindered, while too much power and wealth lies in the hands of a few elite. The country is under stress from fundamentalist forces in Pakistan’s west and neighbouring Afghanistan as well as in the Punjab. Tensions with India and long-standing troubles in Kashmir, a region driven by religious and political divisions, also threaten stability. Pray that Pakistan would be freed from spirits of lawlessness and violence that continue to bleed the nation. Pray for the raising of leaders of integrity and a government that will be effective in moving the nation forward and uplifting those who most need their protection and assistance. That Pakistan persists as a nation at all is a testament to the amazing resilience and flexibility of its people.



Max On Life: A Review

Max Lucado is one of those author's that everyone seems to know and more than likely have read.  When the Lord saved me, I found great comfort in some of Lucado's books.  As I grew in grace however, I wanted to go a little deeper.  Milk is good, but meat is better as you grow.

Lucado has a wide audience who enjoy the milk he offers ~ and as I implied that is good and needed for a season ~ the problem is that it really seems to be all that is ever offered.  In his latest book, Max On Life; Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions, Lucado changes course a little.  Not that he goes deeper, but rather the format is question and answer.

Normally, I would start with the good and then move to the less palatable in a review.  The problem this time around is that there is simply too much wrong with this book.  It is worse than "Christianity 101" or even "Christianity Lite".  If I were to give the book a title, I would name it, "Max On Enabling".  

Far from life's "most important questions" (although there are some important questions) the book is filled with: "I applied for a job and got rejected.  I asked my Grandmother for a loan; she turned me down.  My boyfriend says we should split up.  I'm having a hard, hard week is God even listening to me?"  The answers, in most cases aren't much better.  "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after" come to mind.

Believe it or not it does not please me to give a bad review of an undoubtedly gifted writer.  Especially one that the Lord used in my life early on.  However, as a pastor myself, I simply cannot overlook the serious deficiencies in this book;  It would not be out of place on the "self-help" section of your local book store.

On the inside, back, dustcover it reads, "Max Lucado doesn't pretend to give the final word on difficult issues."  I can say that I whole-heartily agree with that statement.  From a twisting of scripture by using substandard translations and paraphrases, to just plain bad theology, this one is just too dangerous to recommend.

I will close by saying that there are some good answers given.  In fact, there are some very good answers given at times.  And I would also state that I do respect Lucado's gifting as writer and consider him my brother in Christ.  But on the whole, Max On Life, is not simply "milk", it's spoiled milk.





I received a review copy free of charge from the publisher.

(Pray for) Oman


Peoples
Peoples: 35 (74% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Praise God that Oman enjoys a reasonably open and liberal society compared to neighbours in the region. All residents are free to practice their faith, and the government has generously given land for places of worship to be built.
Challenge for Prayer
Oman has been transformed since 1970 into a relatively progressive and open society. Oil wealth, although declining, allowed for a much greater level of education and economic diversification. Pray for spiritual openness as well, that the gospel might have a powerful impact on all levels and peoples in Oman.



(Pray for) Nepal


Peoples
Peoples: 380 (93% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
A new Nepal began in 2008 with the absolute power of the Hindu monarchy yielding to pro-democracy protests. Sweeping political change, begun in the 1950s, has climaxed in the last couple of years. This is an answer to the specific prayers of almost all Christians in Nepal who have interceded for their nation, and it paves the way for new freedoms and opportunities for Christian ministry.
Challenge for Prayer
Nepal enjoys a window of opportunity with the new government and new constitution, but positive strides must be made quickly before disillusionment or entrenchment occurs. With deep divisions still affecting society – various religious groups, deeply opposed political parties – real progress must be made if the new government is to have a true chance of success. The Maoist former rebels, still listed in some other nations as a terrorist organization, hold the keys to the finely balanced government. Pray for wisdom, courage and grace on the part of Nepal’s leaders, and that they might put personal or party differences aside and work together to fight the immense economic problems still gripping the country.



Pujols: More Then The Game - A Review

Good role models are hard to find these days.  It seems a good and wholesome reputation doesn't sell that well, and in today's professional sports, it's all about the money.  Albert Pujols appears to stand out from amongst the others.  His numbers are staggering.  If his career were to end at only ten years, one could very easily argue that over that span, he is the simply the best player the world has ever seen.  That is not an overstatement.  

More Than The Game, a biography by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth, chronicles the career of this future Hall-of-Famer.  From his beginnings in the Dominican Republic to his rise to fame in a Cardinals uniform, the reader is taken inside the life and mind of Pujols.  More than simply a book about baseball, there is a strong focus on the faith of Albert Pujols. The man is a deeply committed Christian whose character, work ethic, and family values like his baseball numbers are laudable.  

If you love baseball and you're a follower of Christ, then no doubt you will love this book. In fact, I would recommend it for your reading enjoyment.  If you're only one of the above, you may want to skip this one. I say that based solely on my reading.  I am a follower of Christ, but I am not a big baseball fan.  As a result, I simply didn't enjoy it all that much. There was - in my opinion - a little too much of "didn't I just read that chapter" going on. Don't misunderstand that to mean that this is not a good book; it is.  It is well written and very easy to read.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had it been written 20 plus years from now when history could reveal a little more than ten years.  One thing that experience should have taught us all by now is that our heroes can easily let us down ... Tiger Woods anyone!  

As for Pujols, let's say for now I'm cautiously optimistic about what the future holds. But...when one turns down a contract in excess of 200 million dollars in the hopes of testing the market, I'm left scratching my head.  And that is a good way to end this review. More Than The Game was a good read, but in the end, I was left scratching my head.

(Pray for) Malawi


Peoples
Peoples: 33 (12% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Malawi remains a stable and peaceful land in a region plagued by wars, civil strife and violent politics. This reflects the peaceful and mostly rural nature of the people – despite intensifying pressure from population growth, AIDS and large-scale movements of peoples into, out of and through Malawi. The multiparty democracy is in good health, having a president with a background in economics and a tough anti-corruption stance. Praise God for the peace that allows Christian ministry and national development to continue unhindered.
Challenge for Prayer
Malawi faces serious challenges in the future, such as the combination of poverty, high population growth and increasing pressure on agricultural land. High levels of national debt, AIDS and unemployment, when added to the aforementioned economic factors, produce challenges that will require wisdom, long-term planning and proactive policies by the government. The grip of poverty hampers development not only in the financial sense but also in terms of education, AIDS prevention, family life and even effective ministry and discipleship. Pray for leaders in Malawi, most of whom are church members, to act with wisdom, humility and long-term planning on biblical principles.



(Pray for) Lebanon


Peoples
Peoples: 23 (35% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Openness to spiritual things and a growing number of converts from other religious communities continue. Praise God for the grace shown by Christians to those uprooted by the 2006 Israeli invasion. Evangelicals are showing vision and commitment to loving outreach.
Challenge for Prayer
Lebanon’s tragic history over the last 70 years, with communal wars, foreign inter-ventions and hostage-taking. With adequate political stability, Lebanon has demonstrated great resilience and potential to rebuild. Pray specifically for:

a) The government and its leaders. There is a lot of disillusionment with the traditional political elite. Pray for a government that rules for the common good, balancing traditional values and demographic realities.

b) Full political freedom to be gained and religious freedom protected. Lebanon, for all its troubles, remains unique in the Middle East for its freedom.

c) The healing of deep hurts in communities, families and individuals. Over 80% of the population were displaced at one time or another during the wars. All have lost loved ones; many lost homes and jobs.

d) A spirit of forgiveness. All have suffered and there are countless opportunities for bitterness and hatred. Pray that the Holy Spirit might do His work of reconciliation.

e) The rebuilding of the South after multiple wars and occupations. Many unexploded munitions from 2006 make rebuilding dangerous.



(Pray for) Korea, North


Peoples
Peoples: 7 (57% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Challenge for Prayer
The “Hermit Kingdom” is a repressive nightmare, where the populace are kept ignorant of the outside world and forcibly indoctrinated into the bizarre doctrines and policies of the “Dear Leader”. He has made 70 bronze statues (total value over $1 billion) – and literally tens of thousands of other monuments, towers and figures – of his father Kim Il-Sung, the Father in the twisted Cheondogyo trinity of Father, Son and Juche spirit. The nuclear threat of this rogue nation is only surpassed by the nation’s great suffering and deprivation. Pray for the leader and his cadre, that the Holy Spirit might bring them to repentance and belief.

North Korea’s economy and environment are in states of disaster, the former propped up only by illicit money-spinner ventures outside the country and by Chinese and South Korean generosity, which ebbs and flows with ever-shifting North Korean politics. Yet the cost of continually propping up North Korea will eventually tally up to more than the cost of rebuilding a crumbling nation after a regime change. Pray for a watershed moment in God’s timing that will bring thorough change, freedom and complete transformation to this land.



(Pray for) Japan


Peoples
Peoples: 34 (68% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Answer to Prayer
Uncertainty about the future has prompted spiritual searching. This is partly in response to many economic and social changes that threaten the status quo in Japan. The constant threats of a major earthquake, of economic decline, the widening generation gap and the feeling of social isolation (hikikomori) that so many suffer provoke widespread soul-searching.
Challenge for Prayer
Japan is a nation facing many crises and is a culture with no apparent direction. Accompanying this drifting is its lack of hope or confidence in the future. Pray for the following issues, all profoundly felt by Japanese society:

a) A lack of a moral centre. Japan’s own leaders called it “a superpower without a moral compass”. This is most notable among young people, who struggle with particular challenges such as social phobia or social anxiety (Hikikomori), a suicide epidemic (over 30,000/year), bullying and teenage prostitution. High rates of suicide in other age groups and divorce also reflect this challenge.

b) Political leadership is characterized more by factional dynamics with self-seeking parties than by nation builders. The legacy of WWII hangs over and holds back the government in many ways. A recent, rapid succession of prime ministers has relatively paralyzed urgently needed reforms to address economic and birth rate issues.

c) Major economic transitions. The world’s third-largest economy, rocked by recessions in recent years, stands at a crossroads. The job-for-life salarymen are becoming outdated, and the younger generation is uninterested in the type of lifelong commitment that forged Japan into an economic giant. Lack of natural resources, increasingly competitive high-tech markets and demographic changes make for an uncertain economic future. The inability (or unwillingness) of many of the younger generation, even well-educated ones, to get full-time career jobs is another recent phenomenon.

d) The percentage of the aged in Japan’s population is rapidly increasing (faster than any other nation), with one of the world’s lowest birth rates and highest life expectancies. By 2055, half of Japanese will be pensioners – an unprecedented demographic situation and a monumental economic challenge. Caring for the elderly already accounts for the majority of the health budget.

e) Crime rates have significantly increased in recent years. Japan used to be one of the world’s safest places, but the recent influx of foreign criminal elements, the influence of the yakuza mafia, the rapid growth of random, meaningless violent crime and the unpreparedness of the state and police to counter these changes combine to cause many Japanese to feel stressed and no longer safe.

*Obviously all these concerns are heightened and yet pale in comparison to the recent natural disaster - Pray!