Thursday, January 22, 2009

Broken branches and fruit.

I guess I've been in an overly reflective state lately. Very likely due to the fact that I will be saying goodbye to this program in less than three months.

Today I was thinking, how awesome God really is. I mean, look at all He does for me. I mean, if you take a good look at me, what will you find? Maybe at the first look, I might look like a healthy tree (plant analogy, bear with me. haha yeah, pun intended.) But looking closer you can see that I'm covered in broken branches. I'm a mess. Literally. (seriously, I create messes wherever I go. It just kinda explodes everywhere.) But God hasn't started ripping off my branches, or pulling me out of the ground. Instead, he helps me bear fruit, on the broken branches.

I think it's really cool. Like showing off the work of a master. Just think, if someone gave you a sick, broken little bonsai tree, most people would give up and just let it die. But God, like a true bonsai master, can take that tree, examine it, and create something beautiful from that broken tree. Of course it might take years upon years, But it can happen. The transformation. It's like a miracle.

I kinda wrote some about this before, but I wanted to write more in detail again about the fruit that God has blessed me with.

So, I think most everyone knows how I am a fan of a local street band here. They play every weekend on the street and sometimes in live houses. I'm there as often as I can be. It's one place where I can just be me. I've learned so much and grown so much there.

But the whole time, I've always kinda wondered. "is this OK? Isn't this weird?" I've always doubted that it was a valid place for me to be and to spend my time and energy on. But I've never been able to leave it.

That was three years ago. Somewhere in the second year, this strange man showed up, listening to the music. It was in the summer, and it was lightly raining that day. At first he just listened from the back of the crowd. Then, after a few songs, he pulled out some maracas from his bag and started to play along with the music. Eventually, he talked some with the members and such.

The next day he was waiting for us at the "usual" spot. He began playing with the band up next to them. From that point on, the members just kinda accepted him. In the beginning, the fans kinda wondered about this strange man. He was at least 10 years older than the rest of the members, and he seemed a little... off.

I found out later that he was a teacher of Japanese at a Jr. High, but he had recently been suspended because of an anger problem. So soon everyone was calling him "sensei."

Eventually we began to get to know him, and we found out, he was a nice guy. He became an official member of the band. But he was still having problems at home in his marriage etc. Eventually he was allowed to return to work.

I didn't get to talk to him much, because of my bad Japanese, but I discovered that I liked this strange man who had just shown up out of the blue. He gave me some nun-chucks and even taught me a bit how to use them (he studies martial arts too!). Sometimes we would walk home after band together because we live in the same general area. We would be able to have good discussions then.

But while I really like Sensei, I never developed a deep connection with him. Then the next summer, something unexpected happened. I was helping a church member with an English camp she puts on every year. She of course knew about my insane love of the band. On the last day, we were talking a lot about it, and she decided she would like to visit the band. So she came with me one day. She fell in love with it as well. And she made friends with Sensei.

While she is far busier than I am, she still kept in contact with Sensei. They exchanged books (both having published one book each) and talked deeply on many subjects. She started giving him advice for his marriage.

Many things happened, and Sensei decided to leave the band. We did a lot of praying for him, and he decided that he would still keep in touch with the people he met there.

Recently things seem to be looking up for Sensei. His marriage is improving. etc. He seems a completely different person than when I first met him.

But the amazing thing was this Christmas. The church member also loves music. She decided to translate some English songs into Japanese and sing them in church. She asked Sensei to help her with the arrangement and playing. So they spent a lot of time with these songs. I also ended up asking him to play all the Christmas carols for my English School party. So this meant he attended 3 church services and my Christmas party. I had given a message in Japanese at the Christmas party, and he listened to it, and the next day told it to his students at school! (in much better Japanese, I'm sure.) He also started studding on his own so he would be able to understand the messages at church.

Two weeks ago, I just randomly found him in church. That day was a baptism. The next Friday I get an excited phone call from the church member telling me that he is thinking about being baptized! It all happened so fast!

There are a few things that have to be sorted out (he is the oldest son of his family, and has obligations to his mother that need to be worked out etc.) but he told me that he has already decided in his heart. So now it's just a matter of time. (I'll ask again for prayers for him during this time!)

But it's just amazing the whole process of events. Because really, I didn't do anything at all. I just did something I loved. I went to a street band. I loved them. I told other people I loved them. Everything else, was out of my control and influence. But it's clear that this would have never happened if I hadn't been at the band. So God was able to use my mere presence, to work change in a man's life. How's that for fruit? And the best thing is, it's so perfect, so beyond me, that I can't claim to have any hand in it at all. It's clearly God's working.

I'm so thankful that God used my presence here. It makes these past 4 years of my life meaningful. I mean I have loved my time here, but it's so wonderful to see what you worked for. I am content with knowing that God used me here.

God took a broken tree, and on one of those broken branches, you can now miraculously find fruit.



E. Chikeles said...

Man I love it! Thats an amazing story.
Thanks for sharing- its funny how sometimes it is especially when we feel God can't use us that He is and we just don't see it.

Josh said...

Just awesome, Amber. God is so good!

Anonymous said...

Wow, seeing how God works through your willingness is a great testimony..

1 Cor 3
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

God bless

beijing bonsai said...
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beijing bonsai said...
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see lis said...
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see lis said...

ok, i know this is a late comment but i just recently started reading your blog. but i find this story of 'sensei' very encouraging and beautiful. it seems at first to be very non-spiritual and actually 'worldly' to like/be into a band, but i love how God doesnt care so much and uses even that, (and can use anything) to bring fruit out of us for His glory. i love how 'outside' the box He is