Bethany Ho

 

BETHANY'S REFLECTIONS

 

Articles by Bethany Ho

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In 2015, I made the transition from English teacher in Japan to missionary in Japan. Coming from a non-Christian background, I had quite a few conversations with family members who were trying to understand my decision. As an English teacher, I was doing good work and getting paid well for it, right? Why couldn’t I just keep doing that?

It was a fair question, and one I had asked myself months earlier in prayer. What does this decision to leave the professional world for full-time global ministry entail? If I already get to tell my students about Jesus, why do I have to leave my well-paying job? I had to sit with Jesus and “count the cost” (Luke 14:28). 

It boiled down to the fact that I knew God was telling me to give my life to the church in Japan for the next season, and I knew I had to obey. More than that, my heart yearned to obey, even when I couldn’t see everything this decision would cost me. And this was the answer that confused my family the most. 

That summer I sat down with my parents, walked through what training and support raising would look like, and explained what I hoped to do when I went back to Japan. As his “little girl,” my dad was most concerned for my welfare. He wanted me to promise him that I would be safe. But I couldn’t. 

When it comes to sharing the gospel or even daily life, Japan can be considered a very safe country, even safer than the States. We serve under approved religious worker visas, and the crime rates in Japan are incredibly low. However, I had to remind my dad that just four years earlier, he saw me off to Sendai, Japan, and then a month later–March 11, 2011–I experienced one of the biggest earthquakes in recorded history. I could not promise him my safety. 

Three years passed. During the middle of my first term as an SIM/Asian Access missionary, I came home for Christmas. It was 2018, one month after John Chau had attempted to reach the Sentinelese people to share Jesus with them. Again, my dad brought up his concerns and asked me to promise that I wouldn’t do what John did. And again, I couldn’t. 

I told him that at least for now I know I’m not called to somewhere hostile to Christians because God had called me to Japan. I also told him that right now I don’t have a desire to serve somewhere dangerous, but I couldn’t promise him that my heart wouldn’t be burdened in the future. I told him Jesus doesn’t promise my safety, but He does promise that He is always with me and that He will use all things for my good. 

Of course, we are also called to exercise wisdom, not to be reckless in making decisions, and to seek good counsel, which includes our parents. However, American culture often tempts us to make an idol out of safety. There are no guarantees; I could easily lose my life commuting to work in a local school district here in the States. It’s not a question of “Will we be safe?”—but “Will we be faithful in whatever God has called us to?” 

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Bethany Ho


Bethany Panian HoBethany first came to Japan in February 2011 to teach English at a school in Sendai. After experiencing the Tohoku Triple Disaster on March 11, she prayed and knew that God wanted her to stay. She taught at the school for four years and was also involved in a local church during that time. Her last year teaching, she felt God calling her to serve full-time with the church, and God opened up the doors for her to partner with Asian Access and the local church in Sendai. She served as a field missionary with the church in Sendai from 2016-2022, and she is now serving in the SIM Recruiting Department with a heart for multiplying the harvest workers sent to Japan.

 

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