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By April Yamasaki

Photo by Stuart Williams

Before last week, I had never heard of an “atmospheric river.” It’s a column of water vapour that moves through the atmosphere, like a river in the sky. An atmospheric river can bring much needed water to an area, but it can also grow so large that it becomes dangerous, resulting in torrential rainfall and flooding.

Last week an atmospheric river released its torrent in my province and in my city, and threw us into a state of emergency. There have been massive floods and mudslides, sections of highways and bridges have been destroyed, water systems damaged, whole towns have had to be evacuated, farms have been covered and thousands of farm animals have died, the bodies of four people have been recovered from the mudslides and at least one person is still missing.

In my city, most of the flooding is on the other side of town from us. There was one road awash in water that had to be closed between our home and the cancer agency, which meant a detour for my husband’s chemo treatment, but that road was open again in another couple of days. A minor inconvenience for us in the midst of the devastation. My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones, lost homes, lost their livelihood.

Yet even now, there is much to be thankful for. We’ve had a few days without rain so the flood waters are receding. The breach in the dike is being repaired thanks to many many local volunteers and military personnel who have flown in to help. Our city, provincial, and federal leaders are working hard at rescue and recovery efforts.

People are checking up on one another and helping where they can. Local pilots of small aircraft have helped to fly people from where they were stranded so they could get home. Dairy farmers have helped other farmers move their animals to higher ground and are housing some of their neighbors’ farm animals in their own barns. People are opening their homes, donating money and food. People are praying and actively showing their care and compassion.

In Psalm 107, the people also faced devastating circumstances:

  • Some wandered in the wilderness, “hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them” (verse 5)
  • Some were imprisoned “in misery and in irons” (verse 10)
  • Some suffered from their own foolish choices and “endured affliction” (verse 17)
  • Some were working at sea and encountered stormy weather; “their courage melted away in their calamity” (verse 26).

In each case, the people “cried to the Lord in their trouble” (verses 6, 13, 19, 28). In each case, God saved them from their distress (verses 6, 13, 19, 28). And in each case, the people were encouraged:

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
          for his wonderful works to humankind. (verse 8)

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind. (verse 15)

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
          for his wonderful works to humankind. (verse 21)

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
          for his wonderful works to humankind. (verse 31)

In the midst of disaster, as God is still at work, I hold on to this timeless truth: God’s steadfast love endures forever.

April Yamasaki is a writer and pastor, currently serving as resident author with a liturgical worship community. Her books include Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength and Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal. For more information and a free copy of her ebook, How to Pray When Prayer Seems Impossible, visit AprilYamasaki.com.

By Ajung Sojwal

Photo by Leo Li

My first coming-of-age story had to be the realization that truthfulness involves more than speech. “Be true to yourself,” was/is meant to acknowledge and affirm the one true self. Yet, the complexity of my inner life tells a story of multiple truths within and the idea of a one true self seems such a farce. Many encounters and experiences in life have challenged my notion of truths leading to recalibrate what being true to myself even means. Things embraced as timeless truths yesterday turn out to be obsolete today.

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By Angela Ryo

Photo by Kate Ter Haar

Recently, I heard a story of a 13-year-old boy named Steve that really struck me. He attended church every week with his parents, and one particular Sunday, he stayed behind to ask his pastor this pressing question: “Pastor, if I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I raise it?” The pastor replied, “Yes, Steve. God knows everything.” Steve then pulled out a Life magazine that showed two starving children in Africa. He asked his pastor, “Well, does God know about this, and what’s gonna to happen to these kids?” The pastor gave a similar response: “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that too.”  After hearing that answer, Steve walked out of the church that day never to worship at a Christian church again.

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By Sarah D. Park

I still cannot believe that I ended up on a boat. I was bobbing on the water, sitting there with multiple layers on and a life jacket, chomping on a cold fried chicken sandwich while holding a can of makkoli in between my knees, listening to a crank radio broadcast on a baseball game that I could care less about, when I found myself thinking, “How did this happen?”

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By Diana Kim

Photo by Jim Lukach

I was gifted an orchid plant at the beginning of the year. I thought that I would be able to easily take care of the orchid, but it didn’t go as planned. It lasted about six months, which is pretty good for me. Perhaps I overwatered it. Perhaps I placed it in a space where it got too much direct sunlight. One by one, the flowers started to wilt and fall off. Even the big leaves started to turn brown. I thought that the orchid was dead and so I was ready to throw it away.

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By Wendy Choy-Chan

Photo by Gido

As I circled back to Genesis in my Bible reading, I realized that the vision of John in Revelation 21 and 22 is not just some imaginary pie in the sky that God was drawing up for John. The city of God, the river of life, the tree of life – they were all God’s original design from the very beginning, as in Genesis 1 and 2. 

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By Tina Teng-Henson

Photo by Tatiana T

I gave notice at my church on Sunday, towards the end of a message about following Jesus through the crowd that initially loved him then opposed him in his hometown. In a message that was about leaving the 99 to go after the one lost lamb. In a message about focusing, like him, on those who were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

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Healing: He and Me

By Emi Iwanaga

Photo by Chad Sparkes
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By Jerrica KF Ching

Photo by alexisnyal

Healing comes in many different forms, covering many aspects of our life.  Healing can be for physical ailment, emotional turmoil, or spiritual renewal.  I believe there are many of us who, amidst an ongoing global pandemic, have been hoping, praying, and seeking healing in all areas of our lives. 

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By Melanie Mar Chow

Being a campus minister for over 30 years, I have appreciated walking alongside Christian students who seek to learn about God and science and apply their knowledge to valuable careers. The most recent survey in 2015 notes that Asian Americans rank the highest among those pursuing STEM majors at 30%.

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