Surfing – I know so little about it, as well as most everything else actually. But my understanding is it’s important for a surfer to stay on the crest of the wave – to not let the wave pass by, and to not be engulfed by the wave.
Missions seems to be a little bit like that. You must be on that razor edge. It’s important to continue exploring God-given opportunities and obediently taking action. It’s also important not to be overwhelmed by such an enormous, humanly impossible task. So, how has that looked for us in our seventeen months in residence in Japan?
Catching the first Wave:
It has been thrilling to see God’s hand move us to the place where we are at present – as missionaries in Japan. We saw people come and request that they would and do pray for us and with us, and surprise us with financial gifts. We saw our gracious Lord give us almost an entire household of furnishings as we arrived, and blessed us with those who would lead us through the process of becoming resident aliens in Japan.
About to be engulfed by the Wave:
We’ve had gentle, persistent instruction in the Japanese language (Japanese is listed as the most difficult of the five most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn, requiring on average 2200 class hours to reach speaking and reading proficiency, according to the Foreign Service Institute). We just completed taking a proficiency test to help us evaluate our progress. (For a bit of perspective, a passing grade on the exam is about 40%). There have definitely been times of feeling about to be engulfed, but God has sustained us. Our tutors have given us about 400 class hours so far.
Another wave – relationships.
We are in Japan to be ambassadors of Christ. God has given us opportunities to know both Japanese Christians and pre-Christians. We learned a valuable point in witnessing a few weeks ago- riding waves on a surfboard means staying alert to changes in the wave, so you don’t wipe-out!
Our friend, Kyoko who works at Starbucks, came with us to a “Thanksgiving Meal” at Kurume Bible Church. Pastor Watanabe’s family, Kyoko, and another single gal, Kitty, were there. Kyoko was excited to come and meet our friends, but was a bit hesitant about ‘church’. I explained it was like an event at the community center – in this case, church was the building. After eating, Mrs. Watanabe offered to give Kyoko a tour of the building, and while they were upstairs, she shared the story of Jesus coming to earth from heaven. Kyoko told us later that was the first time she’d heard that Jesus was special before he rose from the dead! She also was excited to hear it from another Japanese person – a Christian. Kyoko is moving to Toronto, Canada on December 25, so we have only a few more times to share with her. BUT God has plans for her! The other gal that was at dinner, Kitty, grew up in Toronto, and gave Kyoko the name and address of a Japanese pastor who has a bi-lingual church and monthly outreach activity for Japanese students in Toronto! We are praying Kyoko will make contact with this group.
Many Japanese know the name Jesus. They know Christianity is about Jesus, but they have not heard the Gospel! Pray for us as we share the Truth in a way that breaks through the common knowledge in this society.
Yet another wave:
God, through many of you, provided the finances needed for us to come to Japan! Since then, our Pioneers fund balance has been decreasing $718 per month on average. Since we have been in Japan over a year now, starting January 1st 2015 we will drop our U.S.-based health insurance (the $510 monthly premium came out of our Pioneers account) to Japanese health insurance (we will pay the 30% copay directly out of our own funds). That helps close the gap. We are asking God for His heavenly wisdom (James 4.17) – some options we are considering: seek more supporters, withdraw more retirement funds, seek part-time employment, Pray with us that we will stay on the crest of this wave, so as not to miss any God-given opportunity and not to feel overwhelmed.
Thank you! for your prayer and financial support.
May the Lord give you peace and multiply His grace in your lives, as you seek His face!