I remember being back in America, visiting, and someone would ask me, "so what is it you do exactly?" Even after working, and working hard, for two or three years I would have trouble answering that question. I would just kinda stand there and gape. "um, teach English mainly." was always the lame reply. But that's not what I came to Japan to do. I came for the church. I came to share Jesus with people who don't know Him. Well, that's what I thought.
Yesterday, we started an exciting new event. We are "borrowing" another missionary who has free time on Thursdays. She's going to come and teach an outreach focused class. It's free and half of it is a Bible study on the topic of the day. Yesterday we talked about "Future."
It was exciting turn out for me. Two of the moms came. They had both lived in America, and wanted a chance to use their English. It's amazing the difference you can see in people. I see both these women every week. Both have two elementary age children. And every Friday they both look like "moms," - tired, a little stressed, just trying to make it through the last day of the week. Yesterday I got to see them kid-free for the first time. What a difference. They were both so beautiful and happy being able to do something for themselves for once. I was glad to be able to see that.
But that's just a side note. The exciting stuff happened during the Bible study. After hearing one of the questions, one woman told us her story.
When she lived in America (Maryland) it was of course difficult. But her family was invited to a church there. The congregation helped them out, helped teach her how to drive in America, and were generally very kind. They never pressured this family to join the church, or accept their faith. The congregation merely loved this family.
Now the family has returned to Japan, but the kids still attend Sunday school, and the oldest girl is very interested in going to a mission school. Both kids seem to "love Jesus" as the little girl told me one day.
I was listening to this, and thinking how wonderful that church in Maryland is. THAT is the way mission should be. I've noticed that many of my students who are open to Christianity have been exposed to it before. So, I thought I was here planting seeds. Turns out, I'm just helping care for already planted seeds. (I'm back to watering again!) So this church, the members just loved their neighbors. Literally. This love spoke more than anything else could have, and now that mother is sitting in my classroom learning more about this God who loves her and her family.
This my friends is true mission. I'm not the "missionary" in this situation. The true missionaries are the people who reached out and gave love to this family. Look around you. How can you love someone today? Those are the seeds that people like me can tend later.
It's encouragement for me, especially at a time when I'm doing a lot of looking backwards, trying to figure out what I've done here for four years of my life. It's a bright ray of light, that my time, my effort, my watering, wasn't all in vain.
In other words please pray for "Showa." He's a former member of the band who has made a connection with one of my church members. I think he might be interested in learning more seriously. I really appreciate your prayers for him. He's a wonderful man. Pray for protection from any spiritual attack during this time and opening of his heart and mind.
God is good. I'm so blessed to see the evidence of that.