Japan Update: March Madness

This month we’ve been blessed with so many opportunities to talk about our ministry in Japan. For those who haven’t had time to keep up with us, here’s a summary of what we’ve been doing:

March 1: OMS Holiness NorCal Missions Conference

We shared about our ministry at the Northern California OMS Holiness Missions Conference at Santa Clara Valley Japanese Christian Church in Campbell.

March 8: Reaching Japanese for Christ Conference, SoCal

We attended the Southern CA RJC Conference at Wintersburg Prebyterian Church in Santa Ana. Made new networking contacts and learned new information about the profile of different generational groups of Japanese, contextualizaton of materials for Japanese VBS programs, and cultural differences to consider when sharing the gospel with Japanese.

March 9: Los Angeles Holiness Church

We were blessed to be able to share about our ministry at our sister church, Los Angeles Holiness in Los Angeles, and catch up with many old friends.

March 11-19: Younglife Japan Homestay Program

We hosted a student who came with the Younglife Japan ministry team from Chiba. Went with the group to Yosemite, hosted a soccer clinic and ate a lot of great food.

March 23: Fremont Asian Christian Church

We gave the message for FACC’s service. Besides explaining our ministry vision, we also presented on the spiritual landscape of Japan and the opportunities and challenges presented.

March 23: World Christian Fellowship Prayer Group

We spoke at the WCF East Bay Prayer Group in Castro Valley. Our message was on our journey that eventually led us to make a decision to become full-time ministry workers in Japan.

Coming up March 30: Tri-City Chinese Baptist Church

We will be speaking for 25 minutes during the English service of TCCBC in Fremont and doing a Q&A about our ministry during the English Sunday School hour after service.

Reflecting on the World Christian Conference

Communion Candles

This past World Christian Conference represented my third and my last as attendee/staff. Very soon my tenure with the World Christian Fellowship will come to an end as I transition full time into serving in Tokyo, Japan.

In my small group, I confessed that juggling the responsibilities of planning the conference with preparing for Japan had been a distraction for me. In fairness, it’s probably not easy for anyone to focus simultaneously on two tasks of this magnitude, but I admitted that I was just happy that we were able to finally host the conference for our attendees. Oops. That was my mistake.

I now understand the power of confession because soon after those words left my lips, the conviction of the Holy Spirit went to work on me. Was my whole motivation for planning the conference based on putting on a good performance for those in attendance? I had, without ever realizing it until that moment, developed a Martha complex.

But God is so faithful and so patient with me. When I realized how selfish and prideful I was thinking, I immediately repented of my attitude. “Lord, I know this conference is for me as much as it is for everyone else here.” I confessed. And those simple words changed everything.

During the next morning session, the Spirit was able to break through to me and challenge me in an area of my life where I had not acknowledged I was resisting God’s will out of my own fears and insecurities. I received prayer from a dear friend about yet another area of ministry where I would potentially struggle but had not sought prayer before. And another brother, whom I had just met prayed a powerful blessing over me that evening. Throughout the day, I was able to talk to many people, old friends and new, who confessed that God had moved them in a powerful way through the conference.

As the evening session ended, I stood alone but not alone, absolutely basking in the grace that God had for me. Not only had God broken through to me, but to many others as well, who prayed together or simply worshiped around me.

In the selfishness of my heart, I wanted to finish my tenure at WCF strong. I wanted to be remembered as a leader who left WCF in a good place and made positive changes to the organization’s culture. But it was all about me and God reminded me at the World Christian Conference that it’s NOTHING about me and EVERYTHING about him.

So if I am remembered as a leader of WCF, I want to be remembered as a leader who loved my fellow servants as brothers and sisters. I want to be remembered as a leader who came out of my role as Executive Director as a stronger and more mature follower of Christ than when I began. And I want to be remembered as a leader who believed so strongly in the vision of WCF that in obedience to God, I left the best job I’ve ever had at WCF to follow Jesus to Japan.

Day One

Photo by Paul Gor

For our 90+ first time attendees of the World Christian Conference that took place this past weekend, this post is especially for you. For the rest of you, you’re welcome to read this post too! 🙂

As first timers, and I count myself among you, attending the World Christian Conference can be a shock to the system. It is, after all, a weekend packed with messages from the Lord that are by nature going to turn our worldviews inside-out. When we are in complete obedience to God’s calling in our lives, we realize the priorities the world measures us with have no relevance to us. We may find ourselves caught up in the battle between flesh and Spirit.

Today, on Day One, the Spirit has the advantage. But even now, the world and the prince of this world, Satan, are relentlessly chipping away at your resolve with distractions and discouragement. They may seem subtle at first, but in time, the passion lit in your heart will fade and you will look back and wonder what happened to your motivation to live out God’s calling.

I want to remind you now, while it is fresh in your hearts and minds, that your relationship with World Christian Fellowship did not end yesterday when you left Redwood Christian Park. Your relationship with WCF began when you arrived at camp and we are still here, walking beside you to support you in prayer, encouragement and networking. As long as you stay plugged in with your WCF community, we commit to helping you find your place in the Great Commission.

There are currently two very practical ways for you to remain connected with us:

Prayer Groups. WCF Regional Prayer Groups were the foundation of our organization, existing even before the World Christian Conference. We still believe Prayer Groups to be the heart of our ministry, giving our community a place to meet regularly throughout the year to pray, learn and network with other World Christians going through the same trials and joys you are. You may contact the Regional Prayer Group Facilitator in your area on our website to find out about the group meeting near you.

What? There’s no Prayer Group meeting in your area? Well, that’s even better news! If you have the heart to establish a Prayer Group, our Regional Prayer Group Coordinator can train you to host one. Prayer Groups can meet in homes or churches; the important thing is that they provide prayer, learning, and networking opportunities for our community members.

Serve. If you believe God is blessing World Christians through the ministry and events of WCF, we welcome you to join us. We are in the process of defining the roles and skills we  need for our ministry, but it is never too early to let us know you are available and willing to serve with us. Currently, you can contact me and I will keep your information handy and send you an information packet once we are ready to communicate about our volunteer opportunities.

We are encouraged as your co-workers in Christ to accompany you on the journey you are on. Let’s keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14)!

Ready for WCC 2012!

Happy World Christian Conference Eve! After months of planning and hard work, the event has finally arrived. Tomorrow, over 220 people will retreat to the beauty of nature to spend the weekend with the Lord, listening for His guidance in how to go about living the Great Commission in their lives.

The WCF and conference leaders have been fasting and praying over the past couple of weeks for each of our conferees and speakers to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in camp this weekend. We pray that above everything else, God is able to meet each person where they are in their World Christian journey and direct them forward to where He wants them to go.

As this is my first conference, I admit I’m a bit giddy with expectation and nervous about the things I am responsible for, which are admittedly few. In a way, not being busy this weekend creates some of that stress for me because I feel like I have the bandwidth to pitch in wherever help is needed. At the same time, I want to get the real WCC experience and not get overly involved in the details and behind-the-scenes planning that goes on all weekend long.

I hope to be able to check in via blog at various times during the weekend, but of course that depends on how much time I have and how good the Internet connection is. At the very least, catch us tweeting on Twitter all weekend long using #wcc2012.


The Road Goes Ever On

“The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Earlier this week I found the trailer was released for “The Hobbit” the prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” series of books and more recently, blockbuster films. Like many, uh, slightly nerdy kids of my generation, I read the J.R.R. Tolkien books as a child and was thrilled to see them come to life so vividly in the films of the last decade. It is not often that films in the fantasy genre can live up to the original manuscripts, but I felt Peter Jackson did an outstanding job working with some very complex stories.

Tolkien was a devout Catholic, and had a strong influence on his friend C.S. Lewis’s conversion from Atheism to Christianity. Though it is difficult to know how much of his work should be taken as allegory to the Christian faith or life of Christ, there are some strong themes of Christianity in his work which add a depth to the stories that make them all the more meaningful to Christians. Love, sacrifice, honor, and the constant battle against the powerful evil in our world are all themes of his stories.

But I found another quote from Tolkien, and I do not know its origin, which spoke to me about my spiritual journey. It reminded me that though I started my journey on my own, seeking God and hoping to find answers to the problems in my own life, eventually my life intersects with the lives of other Christians and there is some greater accomplishment that we must all participate in.  We don’t always know what that accomplishment is, but what comes to my mind is The Great Commission, bringing the gospel to every nation, tribe and tongue. If this were one person’s goal, it would take thousands of lifetimes to accomplish, but Jesus gave this “quest” to all who would call him Lord.

World Christian Fellowship is a place where many individual paths meet to form a larger road, a highway, for the fulfillment of The Great Commission. We don’t have to travel it alone; there are many who will travel it with us. And as we travel this road together, many more will join our fellowship.

And whither then? I cannot say.