This morning I rose early (thanks to the inevitable jet lag of returning to Tokyo from California) and spent time contemplating our “visit” to California over the past month. Though it seems strange to call it a “visit” when we still own a home there, in many ways, through small conversations within our family, we realized that after a year we really do regard Tokyo as our home. It was a bittersweet conclusion to come to, realizing the place where most of our families and life-long friends live is no longer a place we call home. But in the long term, we are grateful that everyone in our family has been able to make the transition and feel the comfort and support of our new friends here in Japan.
It would be impossible to name all of the people who helped make our first “American homestay” such a great experience for our family. Everyone who opened their homes to us, treated us to a meal, spent time with our kids (or lavished them with gifts), helped out with our events, or just spent time talking with us about our lives, we are so thankful for all of you.
This morning, I was prompted to meditate on Romans 1, which includes a passage that inspired us to serve in Tokyo in the way we do:
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
In this passage, Paul addresses the Christians in Rome, whom he had been trying to visit unsuccessfully for several years. It took us 17 years from the day God spoke to our hearts at Urbana to the day we arrived in Tokyo, so we understand Paul’s longing for the believers in Rome. We also understand the need to encourage fellow Christians, serving them with whatever gifts we have to offer, and being mutually encouraged by one another’s faiths. And we are thankful to experience this in our church community, school, and working with other ministries around the city.
It was fitting for the Lord to remind me of our focus passage this morning as we settle in for two years without another visit to our former home. With this passage as our perspective it is easy to see how much opportunity God has given to us to serve our brothers and sisters and enable the gospel in Tokyo, the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. We are looking forward to what is in store for us.