The Tokyo Relay – Passing on the Baton
Monday was supposed to be a bit of down time, and after the fast paced action of the previous days it was kind of. We spent team time working through a Bible Study in the booklet we bought from OMF before we left which is designed to help gospel workers transition into life in their new country. The first study was on Abraham, and how and why he came to leave his home country. Being here has helped us to see a bit more how costly that would have been in a culture that values family and place so highly.
We then had some planning time which turned into running through tomorrow’s easy English kids program. Afterwards we had lunch with Takeuchi-Sensei (the senior minister) and his wife, Satoko-san, which they cooked for us. They told us of how they became Christians, and graciously answered our questions even when we did not ask them in culturally sensitive ways. All this was on their day off after a big Sunday.
From there we went to Waseda University where we met up with Yuya, the outgoing student president of Waseda KGK (Christian University student group). It is one of the oldest and most respected universities in Tokyo, and Yuya is coming at the end of the year to be a Howie at Sydney University. He showed us around and told us of the Christian history and the Christian leaders who have come from there, and we prayed at many points for God to use the students and the ministry here. We found out that the KGK meeting room is classified as something like a glee club because Christians sing. So we sang. Then we had dinner together, and those who had missed out on an onsen earlier got to experience it. Then we went to bed.
When we woke on Tuesday morning the boys heard that Makito had visited an old primary school friend. When he had to move schools he left his friends a business card with his details, and a bible verse on the back. Last night had a conversation with one who remembered that occasion and she is keen to read the Bible. Please pray for her.
We met together again at Eifuku-Minami where we thought together about Philippians 2 and examples of servant leadership. We remembered our leaders who told us the gospel. We were thankful that the ministers and people we have met with here are certainly that. But we are also thankful that all of them point us to Jesus.
That’s what we tried to do in our “English Adventure” with pre-school kids. We sang Colin Buchanan songs and did actions which taught the kids that “Jesus is the boss”. We also told the story of Jesus calming the storm and they learnt the question “Who is Jesus?”. Afterwards we got some feedback to improve before we do it again on Saturday (as well as a cultural lesson in how Japanese people like to give feedback). We also learned that two mothers did not usually come to church and they each brought their two children.
Over lunch we heard from Chenny about how she became a Christian and came to study at Moore College and now came to be in Japan. She told us of how hard and slow she was warned working in ministry in Japan would be. But she also told us about the first Bible study she lead with the ICF (International Christian fellowship, like FOCUS for the KGK) and how a Japanese girl who came with her Chinese friend listened as they read the Bible about the woman caught in adultery. She was brought to tears and, after hearing what becoming a Christian means in English, Chinese and Japanese, she prayed to become one. Later she said she was confused and is not a Christian, but is still meeting to read through the Bible.
Chenny then took us sight-seeing in Shibuya. There we visited the Hi BA (“High School Born Againers”) centre where Makito has spent a fair bit of time. A family from Sydney will be coming to be on staff here in the near future). While in Shibuya some of us sang Karaoke. We also went to Harajuku which is one of the most “trendy” (but also touristy) areas of Tokyo.
Returning to Eifuku-Minami Church where we had dinner with Richard East, a worker with OMF who will be starting as the staff worker for a block of Universities with the KGK (one of which is Waseda which we visited the day before). We were put in touch with him by a student at Moore, Robert Brown, and it turns out he also went to primary school with a lecturer, Chris Thomson (who happens to be in Hobart with Naomi’s mum). The world is very small.
Before we could find out about him, he turned the tables and quizzed Naomi to find out about what he can expect working for the KGK. It was interesting to hear a bit more about Naomi’s life before college. But it was also interesting to hear about Richard’s experience, short-term and long term, sing and married with a family. He found on reflection that Japan was a place of great spiritual attack. Things would just happen that made it difficult for the gospel to be proclaimed. Once again it highlighted the need for prayer. There are things even people on the ground are powerless against. But Jesus encourages us to take heart because he has overcome the world (John 16:33).
I think that is long enough, but here are some things to pray for:
The ministers of Eifuku-Minami Church. Takeuchi-Sensei is coming towards the end of his ministry, and Luis Obata (the assistant minister) is just at the start of his. Working together and working for the future is not always easy, but the gospel is worth it.
The work of KGK. For university students to use their time and their skills for the glory of God. For them to connect with each other and to connect others with Jesus.
The work of Hi BA. As we said yesterday, being a Christian school student in Japan is hard. It’s ministries like this that encourage Christians to be bold and active in University. Pray for the family from Sydney that will be coming to take up this work (I don’t know what information is public yet so I won’t name them… but they’re great!).
Overseas workers. There is still a great need for them to come. Chenny and Richard are just a couple that we have met while we are here, but there are many others we won’t get the opportunity to (this time at least). They have encouraged us, and we have encouraged them, but if you know someone working in Japan, pray for them and contact them. You never know when God is going to use you to speak his word at exactly the right time!