Aside

On Dealing With Delay

Visa issues potentially threaten our July 1st departure date. We had been under the assumption that we would depart on July 1st with or without the proper visa and get it straightened out upon reaching Japan, but we have been asked not to do that. The issues we are having with our visa are minor, perhaps boiling down to a miscommunication or lost email message.

It is completely within God’s power to overcome these issues and clear the path for us. If our departure is delayed, it would be much more worthwhile to understand the reason God chose to delay our departure than to stew over the inconvenience.

For now, we simply do what is within our power to do: bless the name of the Lord and pray for His will to be done.

Link

YWAM Tokyo Video – Why Japan?

 

We’ve been asked this same question, “Why Japan?” in many forms and nuances. What blew me away about this video, produced by YWAM Tokyo’s David McDaniel, is how similar the answers this video provides are to our own. Broken families, suicide, and hopelessness among a population of people with less access to Christianity than many people groups in far more remote or impoverished places in the world. A beautiful people, intelligent, hard working, hospitable and generous. Like David, I see an incredible opportunity for Japanese Christians to be bearers of the the good news of the gospel to other parts of the world. But how can they go if we do not first go to them?

A couple of important take-aways from this video:

1. This video could easily have been called “Why Tokyo?” rather than “Why Japan?” Nearly a third of the population of Japan live on the Kanto Plain, which is the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area along with the people of  nearby prefectures. It is the single most populated metropolitan area in the world. We didn’t choose Tokyo, but God chose Tokyo for us. We believe He did this because of the impact Tokyo can make on the rest of Japan and the world. This is why I have been reading Tim Keller’s “Center Church” and following the Redeemer: City to City movement to better understand how the great city centers of the world will be used to share the gospel to all nations and people. Growing up in a suburban church, urban ministry is a stretch for us, but we are excited to engage the people of the city and share the gospel with them.

2. This video reflects our reasons for serving in Japan nearly word for word, which is amazing because I have never met David McDaniel before and we have no affiliation with YWAM as an organization. This is a huge encouragement to us, however, in that we can see how God has aligned the vision of many church leaders in the Tokyo area. We already know of several others missionaries and Christian leaders serving in the Tokyo area who also strongly agree with the content of this video. Sometimes hashing out differences in vision is what stands in the way of making progress, but being able to go to Tokyo and basically “plug ourselves into the machine” will be a great benefit to our ministry and hopefully a blessing to those whom we will serve alongside.

 

 

Gallery

A Double Graduation Day!

We experienced a double blessing yesterday of having both of kids graduate from their respective schools, elementary and middle. We often take for granted what goes into such an accomplishment, but we want to thank all the teachers, fellow parents and family members who have invested time in the lives of our children to help them succeed in school and feel good about who they are. And of course we thank the Lord for watching over them and giving them the opportunity to grow, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

One more step in our journey toward Japan as both will start the school year in Japan in a new class structure. Only 18 days left before Japan!

Quote

Experiencing The Power of Prayer

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”

~ Oswald Chambers

Yesterday, a complete stranger who had been receiving our newsletter wrote us an encouraging note and promised to pray everyday this month for our financial support goals to be met. At church yesterday, we talked to many others who committed to pray for our finances as well. Those messages in themselves were inspiring to us. But God quickly reminded us that prayer is not simply idle talk.

Today, I received a message that a single supporter has pledged 20% of our remaining financial needs. I was shocked, even stunned. But then I remembered the promises of those who said they would lift our needs in prayer and that shock was replaced by gratefulness and joy about how the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. The Bible speaks countless times about God’s “steadfast love and faithfulness”, yet when you experience it, you understand why. The Word simply points to the truth, that God is steadfast in His love and faithfulness to us.

I don’t want people to read this and come away with the idea that if we pray for stuff, God automatically gives it to us. There is certainly no Biblical basis for that assumption. Right now, we simply acknowledge that our financial situation is in God’s capable hands. We believe he wants us to go to Japan, and if he wants something, we believe he has no difficulty in making it happen. Our prayers are us saying, “We can do nothing more, but you, O God, can do everything.”

At every opportunity since we committed to going to Japan, God has provided beyond every expectation we had. We’re not there yet, but we are so thankful at how God gives us encouragement at each step in the process. Thank you for your prayers on our behalf; they are certainly being heard.

May Review / June Preview

It’s the end of May and we’re now in the home stretch for our big move to Japan on July 1st. There are now open moving boxes in our living room that are slowly being filled. Items of personal value are being boxed up and put in storage. Here are some of the highlights of the past month:

Gave a Japanese ministry seminar. One of our larger local community churches, Redwood Chapel, has adopted the Japanese as their Unreached People Group (UPG) and has committed to reaching out to them for the next decade or two. Redwood Chapel doesn’t have a lot of people with experience in Japanese ministry, so they wisely reached out to local churches like ours to ask for assistance. In May, they invited me to share about the need for Children’s ministry in Japan, and how a church like theirs might get involved. It was an encouragement to meet with them and see their heart for the Japanese.

Consulting Job Confirmation. After hitting a potential roadblock to my continued consulting work with my current company, everything came together suddenly and with unexpected blessings. In the final deal, I have been asked to work from home (instead of making an hour plus commute into the local office) and I am now considered a direct contractor, meaning there is no middleman to take a portion of my paycheck. For those wondering how this consulting work will affect my ministry schedule, it won’t. I will work at this job on average 5 hours per week. Praise God for turning a trial into a blessing yet again!

Sold my car. This was a mixed blessing, but I am so grateful to know my car is going to a responsible young man who needs a good, reliable vehicle. We ran into a hitch when I took it to get smog checked and found that one of my modifications was not, uh, street legal. Thankfully, my awesome Dad came to the rescue again and helped get the car back to stock in a couple of hours.

Purchased one-way tickets. It’s been a long time since we had to purchase one-way tickets, almost 16 years. There’s something very final about one-way tickets because you realize you aren’t coming back for a while. But the good news is we got a decent airline and the prices were not outrageous (though airline tickets in general are expensive this year; be warned). Also, the CAJ relocation allowance covered the majority of our ticket and extra baggage costs.

Sending our son to camp. Thanks to the wonders of social media, I met another “friend I have yet to meet” in our city and he told us about the International HiBA camp taking place this summer. It is held literally a few kilometers (got to get used to metric measurements) from where we stay for our Summer short term mission in Chiba and the timing aligns nearly perfectly. It also happens that our son is now the right age to attend, so he’ll get to go meet some great kids, many of them he will attend school with at CAJ. We know he’s a bit shy about making new friends, so this is answered prayer for us about him.

Meeting new friends online. We’re so fortunate to live in the age of social media (yes, I recognize the irony in that statement as well). Jayne and I have been able to connect with many people on Facebook and talk with them on Skype before we’ll ever have the chance to meet them face to face. Through these technologies, we’ve already been able to connect with a number of great people and co-workers in Japan, long before we set foot on Japanese soil. One of these connections led us to…

Choosing a home church. Yes, we were able to Skype with Kathy Oyama, who pastors the Biblical Church of Tokyo with her husband Seiji. Based on the ministry vision of this church aligning with our own and the bilingual ministry for our children (as well as Kathy being a wonderful person), we decided to make this church our home church in Japan. For those who are familiar with them, Cru missionaries Mitsu and Karen Nakamura also attend this church. This will be a great opportunity to witness and learn how a Japanese church can reach out to their community in ways that are relevant to those who live there.

So what’s coming up for us in June? Here are the biggies.

Commissioning and Send Off at San Lo. If you’d like to join us for our commissioning and send off, it will be this Sunday, June 1st, at our church, San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church. The send off will be a pot luck after service (we are basically hijacking our monthly “Coffee Hour” for our own design 😉 ). Service starts at 10:45am.

Elementary / Middle School Graduations. Both of our children will be graduating from the respective schools on the same day this month, so it’s going to be a crazy day. It’s a bit surreal to realize both of our children will no longer be in elementary school. It’s no joke that time flies when you have children. But we are proud of the accomplishments of both of our children and the people God is molding them to become.

Crazy Packing. Make that crazy sorting, packing, and tossing. And if you need anything, you might want to inquire with us as we are not having a garage sale (I hate those things) so most stuff will either be given away to friends, sold at ridiculously low prices, or donated to a worthy organization.

Finalizing Support. I am going to make a factual statement here. We are currently undersupported. I don’t want this statement to cause any guilt or smack of solicitation. It is merely a stated fact because we get asked this question all the time and we want to answer truthfully. If you prayed about it and didn’t feel called to support us, please don’t feel like you need to pray again for clarity. But if you do want to support us, now would be a great time to set up your financial support. That’s why this is the last thing on our list; now that you’re done reading our post, please go set up your support!

Lastly, thank you for all of your prayer support over this journey. We feel the results of your petitions on our behalf in the smoothness of this whole process and the blessings that have exceeded our expectations in so many ways. Thank God for each one of you!

Sent By the Children

This past weekend our kids (with a little help the parents) shared with their peers about our coming adventure in Japan. It’s rewarding as a parent to hear your own children articulate the importance of sharing the gospel in another country, even at the significant cost of losing their social status at school, the chance to drive a car at 16, and going to Senior prom. As much as we try to teach them about the reasons we are leaving California for Tokyo, I can’t help but think their understanding comes from having wonderful teachers and examples at church who have nurtured a love and understanding of God in them for many years. We have been blessed by the men and women who have taken a personal interest in helping our children grow in faith.

The greatest blessing  was having the other children pray for us. It was moving to hear the simple, straightforward prayers from the mouths of these children and the childlike faith behind those words that gives God such pleasure. We look forward to being included in the prayers of these young prayer warriors from across the ocean.
We just passed the 6 week mark in our countdown to depart for our new adventure. Time is flying by right now with so many things left to do (or so it seems). Praying for the will and discipline to tackle the unpleasant tasks and enjoy the last few weeks of our time in California.
Image
Image

Love Your Curves and All Your Edges: Saying Goodbye To A Great Car

 

I know the foolishness of becoming attached to material objects, but I admit I got a little misty-eyed as I spent the morning cleaning up my car to sell to a new owner tonight. It wasn’t my first car, nor is it likely to be my last, but it’s been my car for almost 10 great years, and it’s hard not to feel a tinge of sadness in letting it go.

A car, after all, is a little different than most of your possessions. You have a relationship with your car from the beginning and that relationship creates an emotional response. With my car, it was always reliable day after day and driving it was fun as it had a bit more “pep” than our minivan or hybrid (and I added a few extras to make it even more fun). Your car is a constant companion and if you have a long commute, you spend a lot of time with it. You go on a lot of adventures with your car too. The very nature of a car earns it a place in your heart, for better or for worse.

I remember the day I brought the car home as easily as I remember the day we brought each of our children home for the first time. I remember where I was on the freeway when I rolled the odometer over to 100,000 miles and wondered where I’d be when I rolled it to 200,000. I remember the rude lady who put the first ding in the door (she woke me up from a nap when she did it). As I was washing, waxing and cleaning up my car for the last time, I started thinking John Legend was probably thinking about his car when he wrote the chorus of his song “All of Me”. Sorry ladies.

Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye to a car you’ve had a great relationship with for so long. But this is all part of the process of letting go of a lot of things, including people not just objects, over the next month and a half. Japan is getting close, and its definitely feeling real.