I had such an educational day today. For one, we have some visitors from a church in Virginia called Cherrydale Baptist. They are supporters of the church here in Shimonoseki, and the new missions directors, Ed and Kathy Grudier, decided that over the next several years, they will be making the rounds and visiting all the missionaries the church supports so they can raise awareness and support for them back home. It’s an amazing project they have and I’m so jealous! They are going to be able to go all over the world to visit these missionaries and meet with the body of Christ in so many different countries. I would love it! They were formerly missionaries to Turkey themselves, and so they had some interesting stories to share with us as well.
They came to the joint service here at the Center yesterday, but today was a more intimate meet and greet with them at Kawanaka. Taka and Aki came by the Center to pick up me and Nakayama-san to travel over and meet them. Even though Monday is my day off, and I live and work at the Center, I still have such an obligation to be at as many church events I can make it too…they are, after all, forking over money for me to be here and live in their facilities. I owe it to the congregation for them to get to know me and fellowship with each other as much as possible. The most exciting part about this meeting was that I got to hear how a lot of my Japanese brothers and sisters came to Christ. It was so neat. Some of the stories were incredible.
Many of them are from Buddhist backgrounds, and while the Japanese are not violent when it comes to converting to another religion, like the Muslims, they have a rigid social structure which persecutes in its own way anyone who would deviate from the norm. There are lot of similarities between Buddhist and Muslim cultures that I wasn’t aware of before today. Some of the churchmembers said that their families were horrified that they would want to become a Christian. It would make them a traitor to their family, to their ancestors, to their house. One woman was going to church regularly, but couldn’t get over that fact. She decided to leave the church, but couldn’t get it out of her head that there was still Truth in Christianity. She was having problems compromising what her ancestors would think and what she should do. Tony showed her exactly what her ancestors were thinking, by showing her the story of Lazarus and the rich man. After the man complained about his own condition, he cried out for his family to be told the truth before they ended up in the place he was in. (Luke 16:19-31) She accepted Christ right there.
We also went through the attributes of God that were most dear to us. I’ll just put a list here for you:
Absolute Truth & Love
Forgiveness of Sins
Marvelous Power of God
Faithfulness and Patience
The Way, the Truth, and the Life
Trinity of God & John 14:6
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
The Cross of Jesus
Peace of God
Guidance and Leadership
Mercy & Gracious Forgiveness
It was a beautiful morning to hear the life stories of those people, the different trials they went through prior to finding how much God loved them. Another educating moment for me was that I was sitting there with all the people around me gabbing in Japanese…and I felt completely content. I have known it before, that wherever I am, I am at home, because my heart is with Christ and He is with me always. I am travelling in the whole world as a stranger, as an alien resident for only a moment, even in southwest Ohio.
Oh, I’ve been picking up some more Japanese…I can listen in on conversations and pick out a few words that I know. I shared my adventure with Tony today about going to get lunch last Friday and he was really pleased. I guess no one else has been really that adventurous so early in the game…so I was pleased. I’m still a little bummed that the rest of you back home felt an earthquake before I did though! But I have heard that I have no worries…I should feel one soon enough. 🙂 Thanks for the messages recently from everyone! They are really encouraging to me! God bless!
PS. I would encourage all of you to find the soundbite of David Crowder Band from A Collision CD. The track is called “The Story of Marty Stuart and the Rather Understated Jacket”. It’s fairly amusing. 🙂 Oh, and the song “Above All Else” by Wendy O’Connell is a new favorite of mine. You should check it.