Robert & Roberta Adair

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Here’s the alternate, melodramatic title to this blog: Clouds blocking out the sun.  The winter here in northeast Japan is cloudy.  No, we don’t get a lot of snow and, no, it’s not even super cold (although inside and outside temperatures are about the same…).  But it sure is grey.  I know the sun is out there somewhere, but…imageimageimageimage

Here’s a seemingly disconnected tangent – although, of course, it’s totally connected in my head.  When I came home from Kosovo mid-term (wow, 8 years ago?), in addition to giving some pretty average presentations, a church leader interviewed me during one of the services. (background: Kosovo is post-war, post-communist, and majority Muslim with loads of unemployment, environmental degradation, and corruption. It also has rocking hospitality, fun dancing, and a whole lot of “oopah!”) I wanted to share about specific ways to pray for the new country, about the beautiful indigenous worship music, and about good and hard things. The person interviewing me, though, had a big bent on the awesome/supernatural, and he kept shifting questions to Muslims having dreams leading them to Christ. Yep, I knew of one or two stories, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.  After a few attempts to share from my reality, I finally gave in and told cool stories (2nd or 3rd hand at best)…and felt dishonest and misunderstood afterwards.

Moral of the story: I don’t like to tell the story that I often perceive as the one people want to hear if it’s not my reality.

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The cheery: We have a great story of a girl who, through prayer and great care by a doctor, is successfully battling a significant mental health issue. She is growing in her faith, learning more about the Bible and prayer, and is meeting regularly with other believers. Two weeks ago, she gave her testimony at church and was baptized – with a lot of celebration and joy.  When I look at pictures of her 2 or 3 years ago, she literally looks like a different person.  She is funny, refreshingly honest, and I’m excited for what God is doing and will do in her life.

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I wish I could sit here and enjoy this story more. Yet, despite being super encouraged by her sweet faith and friendship – and witnessing the miracle happening in her life, I feel overwhelmed by so many drearies (“the clouds nearly blocking out the sun” – said with a hand on my forehead and a sigh).  I wish I didn’t so often view ministry as a scale, but the wonder of a new life in Christ right now feels outweighed by:

…a friend who always seems to be on the verge of burnout.

…a church leader who seems like he’s been sick for months, and stress seems to be a likely cause/contributor.

…friends who are mistreated at work – overworked and/or bullied (I listened to and prayed with a friend who shook and cried as she shared gunk with me a few days ago – so sad for her).

…friends whose relationship is holding on by a thread – and I wonder why we have a voice in their lives when 1) I struggle so much with Japanese and culture (this is too important to only get broad strokes of what’s going on) and 2) I would rather wait to walk with people in pre-marital stuff when I’m kinder, less selfish, and less grumpy (basically when I’ve “arrived” and somehow feel qualified).  This feels too sticky, too scary, too much.

…several friends experiencing depression, cancer, extreme loneliness, codependent/unhealthy relationships, etc.

…a friend who is often on the verge of quitting church (so many texts, chats, reaching out, and trying).

…a disaster victim’s sadness over losing her husband, brother, photos, home, everything – and in a few months losing the community she’s grown to love when her temporary housing complex closes. (I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are thousands like her.)

The majority of these friends are inside the church.  And I’m tired (overwhelmed, confused, doubting…).  I want to “live a victorious life” (with hope, grace, and trust), and I want my friends to, too.  But this sure is messy.  I don’t want to shield our new believer friend from the reality of limping, ragamuffin, barely-holding-on Christians.  (Sure, I do.)  I also don’t want to only report on the cheer-ies to our prayer team.  (Sure, I do.)  image

Originally posted on Adair Update...

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