When ever my fiancee and I are in different countries we work through a specific daily devotional together, and e-mail our comments to each other (though at times this happens to be a little more sporadic than daily). Last year we worked through a fairly well known devotional by Oswald Chambers called My Utmost for His Highest. This year we have just started our second one called The One Year Walk with God written by Chris Tiegreen.
His August 22nd entry is based on Proverbs 21:13, If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.
In his devotional for the day he talks about how we should reflect God's grace and His attitude toward the oppressed. Chris says we should be intentional about seeking out the poor and the oppressed. God often meets people's needs through us.
All too often the evangelical worldview trivializes the plight of the poor and the oppressed, focusing only on the fact that they need to be born again, but I think that salvation is holistic involving body, mind, heart and soul, so all of these need to be addressed by us as witnesses of Christ's love.
This is one of the nagging items in the back of my mind about Japan. Every cross-cultural mission field I've ever been to involved the meeting of physical need as well as spiritual need, but in Japan physical need is largely taken care of. Perhaps it is one of the obstacles to spreading the gospel.
In my lifetime thus far I have been blessed to be able to go to the poor to help, being God's hands and feet in places like Honduras, El Salvador, Toronto or Mississippi, that really need help. So often when meeting these physical needs the spiritual side grows (both the giver and receiver) and even afterward continues to bloom.
In Japan the gulf between being poor in spirit and having material wealth is larger than any I've ever encountered.