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Quake triggers tsunami alerts in India

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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People gather outside the Baiturrahman mosque after an earthquake hit Banda Aceh April 11, 2012 (Credit: Reuters/Stringer)

I woke up this morning assuming I would write today about Rick Santorum or Ozzie Guillen.  Yesterday afternoon, Santorum withdrew from the presidential race, a decision that means the general election effectively starts today.  And Guillen has been in the news for praising Fidel Castro, comments made by the manager of a baseball team that plays in Miami’s Cuban community of Little Havana.  A veteran Spanish-language baseball announcer supplied cultural context: “It’s like going to New York’s Jewish district and saying, “Hitler wasn’t so bad.”  Later today I’ll have more to say on Guillen in my blog on our website.

But these stories, as significant as they are, became much less urgent when this headline just appeared in The Wall Street Journal: “Quake triggers tsunami alerts in India.” An 8.7 magnitude earthquake has struck the northwestern coast of Indonesia.  If the quake triggers a tsunami, waves as high as 20 feet could strike the coast.

The earthquake occurred in the same area as a December 26, 2004 quake which created a tsunami that left 230,000 people dead.  Today’s quake was more horizontal than vertical, which may pose less of a risk of a large displacement of water and resulting tsunami.  Nonetheless, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean and countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India.  Officials in Thailand are evacuating beaches at this moment.  If the earthquake has triggered a tsunami, it could hit India’s Great Nicobar Island shortly after 3 PM today.

Two implications follow.  One: we should begin interceding now for those affected by this quake and a possible tsunami.  The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully among Muslims–more have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries.  Now God wants to redeem this tragedy by bringing many in the region to himself.

Two: a single headline can change global priorities.  Suddenly a baseball manager’s political statements seem trivial, and even the presidential race has become less urgent for the moment.  One crisis can change your perspective in profound ways.  As you know, our oldest son is undergoing cancer treatments, with three more weeks of radiation to go.  This week I told Janet that I’m sure we had problems a year ago, but I can’t remember what they were.

Please join me in praying for the safety of those affected by the Indonesian earthquake, and for God to use this calamity to bring multitudes to Christ.  And consider your priorities and problems this morning.  If a quake struck your community today, what would matter most to you?  Shouldn’t those priorities take precedence every day?