2017 Japan VBS Trip: Opportunities and Hope
I’m back! Actually, Megan’s been ghostwriting for me the whole time—I’ve just been taking the credit 🙂 No, but seriously, thank you, Megan!
Also, a big thank you to pastoral intern, Chris Wong, for editing and publishing these posts. For one of the posts, I wanted to title the blog, ‘Nagoya, we out here”, but Chris replaced it with a godlier title.
Right now, it is July 28th, Friday evening. We’ve just completed a long day of ministry. Today’s VBS was day four, which means we really only have one day left. Since we’re nearing the end of our VBS and our trip, I wanted to pause and reflect a little bit about all the stuff that’s happened so far.
Since I wasn’t able to blog yesterday, I wanted to reflect on a particular conversation that I had yesterday with one of the moms. After yesterday’s VBS ended, one of the mom-helpers, who has not yet committed her life to Christ, wanted to hear a couple of our stories and testimonies. For some context, she has been going to ANF for about a year and a half or so, and while she isn’t a Christian, she’s genuinely interested in the claims of Christ, and she’s earnestly wrestling with the implications of what it means to follow Jesus.
So it was a no-brainer: Mark, Daichi, and I shared our testimonies. And she remarked that it’s so unique how God seems to save people in variegated ways. She’s absolutely right—God does save people in totally different ways through a multiplicity of circumstances. After sharing our testimonies, I was able to talk with her a bit more about her story and how she ended up attending church.
She mentioned that she ended up going to church, because of a series of circumstances that led to her investigating Christianity. In God’s providence, there were Bible studies that she attended in college, hardships that led to despair, and a young moms group that was hosted by Christians. More importantly, what kept her going to church was the warmth of Christians that God placed in her life. Eventually, I asked what stumbling blocks prevented her from truly surrendering her life to Christ. She replied, “family, and isolation.”
Belief in Jesus is a conscious and personal decision to follow Christ; but on the other hand, for many people, not just Japanese people, belief in Jesus is also done within the context of familial and relational connections. And this belief will have positive or negative ramifications. What I’m learning over and over again is that belief in Jesus isn’t just a ‘it’s me and Jesus’ kind of a thing (though it’s not less than that) or that belief in Jesus is fostered in a vacuum.
So for this mom, the threat of losing her family is real in the pursuit of Christ. And she’s really considering the worth of this cost and I think that’s good. Jesus even said, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28). But belief in Christ would mean that she would have to deny webs of traditions that have shaped and informed her entire worldview. Her response was a kind of honesty that provoked admiration and respect.
Moving onto today, we went to Christ Bible Institute for its coffee shop’s open mic!
Here’s a picture of one of the bands that performed! They’re 16 year olds! 16! What was I doing with my life at age 16?
That’s pretty much it! Thanks for reading, everyone!
Here are some prayer requests:
- Please continue to pray for the people that we talk with, especially those who have not trusted in Christ. Pray for the children!
The gospel provides so much hope and liberation, because in the gospel, what we really see is a reversal of values and roles. The King became a servant. And because he did, it means that the kingdom he inaugurates is the kind where values are flipped. In Christ, people don’t have to be controlled by how others might perceive them or what the culture esteems as valuable.
- Please pray for health! A member of the team got sick 🙁
- Continue praying for the ministries at CBI and ANF