go2japan.org - Staff Posts https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog Tue, 25 Jun 2024 03:50:22 -0700 A2-Com en-gb atong@atlassoftwaregroup.com (info@go2japan.org) Uncharted Obedience https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1595-uncharted-obedience https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1595-uncharted-obedience uncharted obedience adrien tutin x8xJpClTvR0 unsplash 800px

Moving from Questions to Steps of Faith 

Will I ever be ready to walk the path that God has prepared for me? Will I ever be so sure that this is the path God laid out for me? Do I keep waiting for that green light to appear vividly out of nowhere?

These are the thoughts battling in my mind. I have been waiting and waiting, and it wasn't until I took my first step that my confidence started building up, and my trust that God had called me into this journey found its foothold.

The path toward a cross-cultural mission is not the easiest. It is full of uncertainties, fear, and loneliness. Yet, as I took that first step, He was faithful to guide my next.

First Small Step

woman walking down path biel morro HbcwP2Y1GFY 640px unsplashIt has been over three years, and despite the hundreds of questions I had, I took my first small step and said yes to God. The yes that comes out of desperation in wanting to obey the desire that God has put in my heart.

Living in a city where there are endless opportunities, and the future seems to be brighter, walking into a different path is not the best choice. The moment I gave my yes to God, I have to lay down the plans that I have for myself, and hold on to the unknown plans that God has for me.

Being surrounded by people who are working hard to strive for the plans that they have, and I look at myself, wondering if letting go would truly be worth it. Suddenly, I’m in the midst of the crowd and I was feeling left out. No matter how much I try to reach out, it seems that they can’t understand me. I felt so alone, and it was so lonely, even though I’m with people who love me.

I am a people person, yet I found myself stuck in the corner. It was when God’s promise in Matthew 28:20, “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” becomes my reality. When no one seems to understand me, I found my comfort in Him. God becomes my Person, and I become His.

There were moments when the easiest option was running away. I did run away and hide myself from God. I fought and justified my actions, yet with His grace, I always found myself back to where I ran away.

Unfolding Faithfulness

lit pathway patrick fore 74TufExdP3Y 640px unsplashAs I strive to keep moving forward, each step, God unfolds His faithfulness. He wasn't just paving the way; He was also molding me to see what He illuminates. Each roadblock brought me closer to Him, and I learned to rely a little deeper.

It humbles me to realize that He has chosen me for the great works that He has planned. God has chosen me! Me, who is lacking, fearful, and unworthy. Even with my mishaps, He didn't change His mind and continually led the way forward.

Final Stretch of Waiting

Now, God has faithfully provided all my needs! I'm on my final stretch of waiting to finally take a step on the land of my promise. I started with uncertain steps, yet as I kept moving forward, each step found its confidence in His promises.

In John 15:16, I did not choose Him, but I was chosen by God that I might go and bear fruits – fruits that will last- and so that whatever I ask in His name, the Father will give it to me. To be standing where I am now, it is a testament of His faithfulness. “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).

I’ve learned that our obedience to walk the path less taken is never easy, yet as we overcome those daunting steps, God is always faithful to guide and lead us to where He wants us to be.

Hanna Rose Evardone


Hanna EvardoneHANNA EVARDONE is currently preparing to serve as a missional partner in Japan. She was born and raised in a small town in the middle part of the Philippines and is an expat of a beautiful Arab country. Hanna enjoys meeting people with different nationalities, cultures, and beliefs, and loves exploring their food! She states, "I'm someone who talks a lot and still learning how to stop!"

 

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hanna.evardone@a3.email (Hanna Rose Evardone) Staff Fri, 12 Jan 2024 09:00:00 -0800
Day by Day https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1593-day-by-day https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1593-day-by-day abudhabi skyline kamil rogalinski PvMwVuZZfFc unsplash 800px

Recently, I sprained my foot, which made walking unbearable. Yet, as the days went by, the pain subsided, and I was able to walk while limping.

hev IMG 2196A Parable

As I reflected further, I realized that my journey in preparation for moving to Japan was a similar process to my sprained foot.

The process and preparation required to be in Japan have been so stressful. Adding all the uncertainties that I'll face, the mental strain I've experienced has been intense. To become a missional partner in Japan, I have to leave my security, which is my work, and my comfort zone, which is the UAE. I have to leave friends and family and my church.

It was a daunting decision, yet a move that I need to make if I want to move forward.

Feeling Sprained & Stalled...

hev IMG 5207I felt that my whole life was sprained, and moving forward was pretty overwhelming.

I do believe that God has called me to go to Japan, yet letting go of the things I value to walk on the path where I felt God was leading me didn't come easy. I have to go to my secret place with God to take a step forward. As I went to God with all my fears and uncertainties, day by day, I found myself trusting Him more and more, until what I valued shifted.

hev IMG 5038...But God is Able

Releasing my grip on security and journeying with God into the realm of uncertainties allowed me to discover Him more piece by piece. I have been amazed at how God allowed me to experience how able and faithful He is.

I'm yet to step on the land of my promise, yet I know that He who calls is faithful to fulfill what He has promised. I'm so excited to see what He is able to do through me as we venture into uncharted territories.

Hanna Evardone


Hanna EvardoneHANNA EVARDONE is currently preparing to serve as a missional partner in Japan. She was born and raised in a small town in the middle part of the Philippines and is an expat of a beautiful Arab country. Hanna enjoys meeting people with different nationalities, cultures, and beliefs, and loves exploring their food! She states, "I'm someone who talks a lot and still learning how to stop!"

 

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  • Photo credits:
    • Cover photo of iconic Al Reem Island buildings, Gate Towers, The Arc, The Sun Tower and The Sky Tower, seen at sunset by Kamil Rogalinski on Unsplash. This is where Hanna used to work!
    • Additional photos of co-workers and friends courtesy of Hanna Evardone.
  • More articles from Hanna Evardone

 

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hanna.evardone@a3.email (Hanna Rose Evardone) Staff Wed, 03 Jan 2024 10:30:00 -0800
Making Room for Jesus https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1592-making-room-for-jesus https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1592-making-room-for-jesus welcome open pexels ketut subiyanto 4473095 1000px

A3 Advent Devotional Entry • Silk Handley 

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
— Luke 2:6–7

When I was 6 years old, my parents moved from Lansing, Michigan to Lodi, California—away from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Although we left our natural family, the Lord blessed us with a new spiritual family.

We started attending a church soon after moving to Lodi, and the Lord blessed us with even more “grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.” It fills me with gratitude when I think about all of the people who opened their hearts and homes to us, making us feel loved and welcomed.

There was another family that left their family behind too. Mary and Joseph had to leave their extended families to go to Bethlehem. When they finally arrived, there was no room for them due to the census. Although all of the inns were crowded, one innkeeper gave Mary and Joseph the room that he did have—probably the place where the animals were kept since Jesus was placed in a manger. I am glad that anonymous innkeeper opened his heart to the plight of this young couple and provided a room so Jesus could be born. 

I am filled with gratitude as I think about your willingness to open your homes and hearts to our missionaries. Many of you have hosted missionaries home on furlough, or hosted events at your churches so that they could share about what God is doing in the world. I know that they are grateful and blessed by the hospitality you extend to them. Not only are you opening your hearts to them, you are opening your hearts to Jesus.

Thank you for making room for Jesus.

Silk Handley


Silk HandleySilk Handley has been an ambassador for A3 since Joe became president in 2008. Being very relational, she enjoys connecting with people and loves any opportunity to visit the broader A3 community. Serving Christ through encouraging and praying for others is her passion.

staff profilestaff profile
emailshandley@a3.email

 

A3 Advent devotional coverMore Information

  • This is one of many entries in A3's Advent Devotional. If you want to download a free PDF of the entire devotional to read along with us, click here...
  • Cover image by Ketut Subiyanto from Pixabay

 

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shandley@a3.email (Silk Handley) Staff Sat, 23 Dec 2023 08:00:00 -0800
The Privilege of Participation https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/379-the-privilege-of-participation https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/379-the-privilege-of-participation nativity ben white eeFMC1UG k8 unsplash

A3 Advent Devotional Entry • Mary Jo Wilson

The image of the young Mary being interrupted in the course of her day by a heavenly invitation to bear God’s son is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas story. I am always amazed to consider how this young girl so completely trusted God and seemingly gave little thought to her personal future and planned engagement. She seemed so ready to say "yes" without hesitation to God and to this amazing proposition.

Mary stands in stark contrast to the first woman, Eve, who, through the serpent's deception, took the first step of human disobedience. In my mind, these two women stand as bookends, one representing human fallenness, the other reflecting God's grace in allowing us to participate in his divine plan of redemption. Though I experience my fallenness as a daughter of Eve on a daily basis, I am also challenged by Mary's heart of sincere devotion. I likewise desire to quickly respond to God's call with a heartfelt "yes!"

Amazingly, God continues to invite us to participate in his divine plan of redemption. It has been my privilege to offer his redemption to my Japanese neighbors who have questions about eternity, or my friend whose mother-in-law gave her permission to consider the Christian God. The Holy Spirit has been preparing them and continues to draw them, but along the way he lets me take part in the process. I sense Mary’s joy when she sang,

"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant . . . for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name."
— Luke 1:46

Mary's heart is full of gratitude that God chose her to bring the Savior into the world. I am also deeply grateful for the privilege he has given me to bring Jesus to Chikako and Tamiko and others. So the Christmas story not only speaks to me of the young Mary’s role in God's grand plan of salvation, but my part as well. I pray I can especially be ready to notice the divine opportunities he brings into my day and respond promptly, “I am the Lord’s servant.” It is in these moments that we experience the miracle of Christmas and are filled with joy for the privilege it is.

Takeshi Signature

Mary Jo Wilson


Mary Jo WilsonMary Jo Wilson ministered in Japan with A3 for 20 years, partnering with local leaders in church planting and developing new workers for cross-cultural ministry. Now, as VP for Missional Engagement, she serves our strategic partnership with SIM and continues to support the work of multiplying churches and developing leaders in Japan and Asia.

staff profilestaff profile
emailmjwilson@a3.email

 

A3 Advent devotional coverMore Information

  • This is one of many entries in A3's Advent Devotional. If you want to download a free PDF of the entire devotional to read along with us, click here...
  • Image credit: photo by Ben White on Unsplash

   

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mjwilson@a3.email (Mary Jo Wilson) Staff Wed, 20 Dec 2023 09:00:00 -0800
Christmas Lights https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/348-christmas-lights https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/348-christmas-lights christmas lights tessa rampersad 5toRIWF2GUY unsplash 1000px

A3 Advent Devotional Entry • Emi Hibino Miller

What do you think of when you see Christmas lights? Growing up in a pastor’s family, Christmas time was always very busy with my dad preaching, and my mom directing the Christmas program. Our family also hosted a large Christmas Day gathering for church members who did not have family in the US or in the area.

In preparation for our numerous guests and the season, my siblings and I would dust off Christmas decoration boxes with my mom to make our home more festive, but my favorite moment was seeing the lights turn on to light up the Christmas tree. When it was time for bed, I’d stare at the flickering lights of the tree through the slats of the stairway while the rest of the house was dark and quiet. I was entranced. Oh, how I loved these serene moments amid the busy season.

As I moved from childhood to adolescence and then college, the wonderment of Christmas decorating seemed to fade. I preferred to go out with my friends, than get “stuck” with the task or felt it was a bother. My mom continued the tradition, sometimes on her own, and sometimes with help.

Two years ago, my mom called my husband and me over to their place with a simple request. My parents had moved into a small pastor’s retirement community, and she wanted help putting up Christmas decorations, but specifically needed help with the Christmas lights.

That year was particularly different. My mom was in a much weakened state from chemotherapy treatment for stomach cancer and suffered from some very severe side effects which mimicked Parkinson’s disease. My mom’s shaky hands could not stabilize to do any fine motor function, and this frustrated her normally independent self.

My husband diligently hung the Christmas lights and the Star of David patiently to my mom’s liking, and I draped some choice ornaments onto a small tree. When the Christmas light switch turned on, her vacuous look dissipated and it reflected the glow from the lights.

I drove home that night in tears.

The simple tradition of Christmas lights took on new meaning for me that year. We were not decorating for the large Christmas party my parents hosted in the past, and the frenzy of the season was minimal in their retirement years. It was not a burden or chore. The lights and decoration symbolized a celebration of the coming of our Lord in the midst of deep hardship for her, and the rest of the family. She wanted to celebrate Jesus.

After they (Magi) had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was . . . On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.
—Matthew 2:9–11a 

The lights and the bright Star of David flickering in my parents’ house assured me of God’s promise and presence for me personally in the stillness of the night. Just like my childhood, it’s in those quiet moments when we pause, and in the Christmas story, where the Magi come, can we block out the din to commune and be with Jesus.

Emi Hibino Miller
A3.Missional Partner
Tokyo, Japan


hibino miller emi 2023 600pxEmi Hibino Miller has served with A3 since 2000. During her time in the US Office, Emi was a mobilization specialist and Director of Human Resource Development. She and her husband Sterling moved to Tokyo in 2013 as Missional Partners, coming alongside Kokubunji Baptist Church (KBC, https://kbcnet.wixsite.com/kbcnet) to do relationship ministry in the community and build up Japanese Christians. With A3, Emi facilitates missionary support through Member Care. Emi and Sterling have two daughters, Geneva and Elise.

staff profilestaff profile
emailehibino@a3.email

 milbino christmas lights 1000px

A3 Advent devotional coverMore Information

  • This is one of many entries in A3's Advent Devotional. If you want to download a free PDF of the entire devotional to read along with us, click here...
  • Cover photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

   

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ehibino@a3.email (Emi Hibino Miller) Staff Thu, 14 Dec 2023 13:00:00 -0800
Leaving Home https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/345-leaving-home https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/345-leaving-home manger crown pro church media S4n91EsctQM unsplash 1000px

A3 Advent Devotional Entry • Jeffery Sonnenberg

Thou didst leave Thy throne
And Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me . . .

"I love Christmas. I think that being in Japan at Christmastime helps me understand what Jesus coming here was like."

At first, I did not understand what Janice was trying to say. I was a young single missionary. It was going to be my first Christmas in Japan, and I was wondering how I was going to manage. Christmas had always been a special time with family celebrating the birth of Christ. How was I going to manage being alone, far away from those that I most wanted to spend that time with?

This concern prompted me to ask Janice how her previous two Christmases in Japan had been. Her response puzzled me, so I asked her to explain.

"You know, it’s like Jesus. He left his home and came to a place where no one understood who he was. They looked at him and made assumptions. He was profoundly misunderstood. And yet he loved them, and sacrificed his own life for them."

These words reverberated in my heart. Yes, Jesus did come like a wonderful present, a tiny package containing so much more than the initial glance reveals. But, it also marked the profound sacrifice of incarnation. Jesus left the perfect culture of heaven to enter our human culture that could barely (if at all) comprehend his mission, motivation, and identity. What they chose to see, was not who he really was. Even his own disciples would only "get it" after the fact. 

This brief conversation set the framework for my Advent season that year (and many since). Yes, I did have moments when loneliness and the culture gap seemed overwhelming. I did wish that my family and friends were around the corner rather than half a world away.

But, I discovered the power of whispering,

“My model is Jesus.”

Any small perceived sacrifice in my life was as insignificant as a dust bunny next to the ultimate sacrifice of God-made-incarnate. After all, I was in Japan to love people and tell them about Jesus. 

My first Christmas in Japan turned out to be a fantastic experience. 

Thank you, Janice. 

Do I enjoy Christmas in Japan? You bet! It helps me to understand Jesus better...

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
— Philippians 2:5-8

Jeffery SonnenbergJeffery Sonnenberg
A3.Missional Partner
Japan 

 

 

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jsonnenberg@a3.email (Jeffery Sonnenberg) Staff Thu, 07 Dec 2023 14:00:00 -0800
Advent in a Japanese Hospital https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/341-advent-in-a-japanese-hospital https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/341-advent-in-a-japanese-hospital single candle david monje vRH teNKBM unsplash 1000px

A3 Advent Devotional Entry • Dolores "Dee" Wirz

As the Advent season began one year ago I found myself in a six-bed room on the cancer ward of a Japanese public hospital. From my human perspective as a person who had enjoyed a previously healthy, hospital-free seventy years of life, it was an unlikely, unexpected, unwanted, unpleasant, unanticipated venue.

There was plenty of darkness in that room as each of my fellow-patients had been struck with the stopper of a cancer diagnosis calling for various measures of severe treatment with no guarantees on getting out of the black hole. It was definitely cause for reflection on the value and meaning of life.

I was the only one in the room who knew about Advent—the coming of Light into our dark world. My daily challenge was to shine that light in little ways by listening, comforting, encouraging, smiling and by small quiet acts of kindness and lots of prayer. That’s as far as I got with many of those coming and going in the room, but with a few I had strategic openings to share God’s Word directly and to introduce them more clearly to the Light.

The Advent of Jesus started in such an unlikely, unexpected, unwanted, unpleasant, unanticipated venue—his bed an animals’ feeding box in a dark, dreary, shabby, probably smelly, borrowed stable. What a shocking contrast after the splendors of heaven.

However, the entrance of Jesus into the world was perfectly timed, placed and purposeful according to God’s plan. From the poor shepherds who were the first to hear the Good News all the way to the rich kings from the East who followed a spectacular star, the light was piercing the darkness. Of course, there were those who did not recognize or receive the light, just as is true today.

However, our mission in this present world continues to be sharing the Light of Life wherever God places us—even if it’s a Japanese hospital room. Jesus said:

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
— John 8:12

God’s Word also assures us:

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God"
— John 1:12

Dee WirzDolores "Dee" Wirz
Former Missionary to Japan
(from 1976-2019)

   

Cover image by David Monje on Unsplash

 


Downloads:

This entry was published in our devotional which includes meditations on the Advent Season by many members of the A3 community.

A3's Advent Devotional available for free download A3 Advent Devotional (screen layout, best for viewing on a computer/tablet)

A3's Advent Devotional available for free download A3 Advent Devotional (printing layout, best for printing or viewing on a mobile phone)

 

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deewirz@yahoo.com (Dolores Dee Wirz) Staff Thu, 07 Dec 2023 13:30:00 -0800
My Encounter with the Land of the Rising Sun https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1589-my-encounter-with-the-land-of-the-rising-sun https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1589-my-encounter-with-the-land-of-the-rising-sun Tia stands in front of a Japanese shrine

By Nicole

Truth be told, Japan was never a country that was on my radar. I had always known that at some point in my life I wanted to explore East Asia, but for me that meant South Korea.

After spending the last two years working with international students and their families and absolutely loving it, I reached out to the SIM office in my home country to inquire about ESL summer opportunities. Through my conversation with SIM, Japan was brought to my attention. They informed me about a summer opportunity to be a part of a team that would work alongside and support a few local churches in the prefecture of Yamagata. Conversing with Japanese nationals in English would be one of the outreach methods used to connect with local communities. I was also informed of another ESL summer opportunity in an African nation. As I looked into both locations, I prayed and asked God for direction and asked others to pray for me as well. Within a few short weeks, I found out that the summer opportunity in the African country was no longer possible. One door had closed, and yet, another door remained open. 

I was the last member to join our summer team, with only 3 months to prepare before departure. I didn’t know the Japanese language or culture, didn’t grow up on anime or manga, and I certainly was unaware of Japan’s spiritual climate. By the time of departure however, and thanks to our amazing team leader, Bethany Ho, I had a better understanding of Japan’s spiritual climate and worldview. I could now do a very simple self-introduction and I knew a few basic Japanese phrases. 

The learning continued once our team landed in Japan. Robert Adair, country director for A3, greeted us at the airport and gave us a valuable in-country orientation, as well as escorted our team to our destination in Yamagata. Although there is so much that I could share with you about my time in Japan this summer – the beauty of the country, my first onsen experience, a public transportation system that can get you just about anywhere – there are 3 areas in particular that I would like to share. 

 

Spiritual Climate 

Due to Japan’s geographical proximity to South Korea, I assumed that the spiritual climate in Japan was about the same as South Korea. This is not the case! Japan is open to the gospel, and yet, less than 1% of the Japanese nationals who call this island home are Christian. I am very perplexed and burdened by this reality. This means there are many, many Japanese who are living and dying without Christ, with very little to no witness to the gospel message (Romans 10:14- 15). Truly, the harvest is plentiful for Japan! 

 

IMG 1260

 

Sacrificial Giving & Hospitality 

My heart was deeply moved by one particular Japanese pastor and his wife, along with another Japanese couple from the same church – for their love for Jesus, their community, and for fellow Christians. My team was there to serve, and yet it was my team who was being served by both couples – with such joy and grace! Even in their older age, they still made themselves available to serve the Lord with what they had and carried out His work (1 Corinthians 15:58/Galatians 6:9-10). I later found out from other teammates that I was not the only one deeply touched by both couples’ sacrificial giving and hospitality. 

 

IMG 1375

 

Cross-Cultural Team 

I have always enjoyed and thrived in working and living cross-culturally. My summer team was a mix of nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities. This kind of team diversity was also reflected in the SIM/A3 team serving in Yamagata as well, which was wonderful to see! 

During Jesus’ high priestly prayer concerning believers, He prayed: “I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). Our unity as believers is a testament to the world! When the world sees individuals of diverse backgrounds working together in love and unity, they can’t help but take notice. 

 

IMG 1214 1

 

Now What?

It has been several weeks now since I arrived back home. The jet lag is behind me, and I have been doing a lot of processing and praying over all I have learned since returning from Japan. I have had a number of opportunities to share with others about my time in Japan this summer. I am incredibly grateful for all the support I received from my SIM home office, A3 missional partners, and my prayer support team back home. Were there challenges along the way? Of course, but the support and prayers from others, and God challenging my own heart at times, got me through those challenges. Since my return back home, many have asked me if this summer is it for me and Japan or if I plan on returning. The truth is, although I don’t know what’s next for me and Japan, I know that whatever comes next, it will not end with this summer. I continue to lean into God for direction. 

The fact still remains that too many Japanese are living and dying without a Christian witness or a clear presentation or understanding of the gospel message. Prior to this year, I could say that I didn’t know about this present reality for Japan – but now I do.    

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tia Blassingame Nicole had her first encounter with the Land of the Rising Sun during the summer of 2023, while serving on an A3 j-Team in the Yamagata Prefecture.  During this time, she was captivated by the beauty of the land and the friendliness of the people.  It is her hope that her first encounter with Japan will not be her last.  

 

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emailgo2japan@a3.email

 

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go2japan@a3.email (go2japan) Staff Fri, 15 Sep 2023 09:00:00 -0700
A Tribute to Dr. Reiji Oyama: A Legacy of Impact in Japan https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1581-a-tribute-to-dr-reiji-oyama-a-legacy-of-impact-in-japan https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1581-a-tribute-to-dr-reiji-oyama-a-legacy-of-impact-in-japan oyama birdsall ariga 2007 1000px

BY DOUG BIRDSALL

Oyama-sensei was known and respected throughout Japan and across Asia—and beyond—as a brilliant scholar, prolific author, dearly loved pastor, and seminary professor.

oyama dr reiji headshotHe was a man of slight build, but powerful mind. He spoke with a soft voice, but his words were heard and heeded throughout the nation he loved and served all of his life.

His publishing record is legendary. He seemed to be able to publish books, articles and tracts effortlessly—160 books throughout his career. But those who knew him were keenly aware of the fact that his mind was one of the most disciplined, hard-working, and consecrated intellects in the modern life of the church in Japan.

the biblical churchIt is impossible to think of Oyama-sensei without thinking of the Takadanobaba Bible Church. His life was anchored in that church which he founded as a young man, preaching the gospel in street side meetings after the war, and which he served throughout his life. Like everything in which he was involved, the Takadanobaba Bible Church grew and multiplied. Today, there are more than 20 daugther congregations.

As great as his life-long contributions are in each of these spheres of leadership influence, I believe Oyama-sensei’s greatest legacy will be through the hundreds of younger men and women from across Japan and Asia who treasure him as an exemplar of a Christian leadership, and as a mentor of immense wisdom and generosity of spirit. He multiplied churches, and he multiplied leaders through those churches, through his seminary classes, his books, and his radio broadcasts.

2007 JCGI Board of Directors

It was my privilege to meet him while I was still a young missionary in Japan forty-one years ago in 1982. That was at the time when the work of the Japan Church Growth Institute (JCGI) was being established to help connect and develop some of the most promising and productive pastors in the country.

birdsall oyama 2007 1000pxIn 1991, when I became the leader of our mission, Asian Access (now A3), I had the great opportunity to serve with Oyama-sensei on the JCGI board which he chaired. I am deeply indebted to him for the impact of his wisdom and his life upon mine. Being in a board meeting with him was as instructive as being in a seminary classroom. Theological reflection, strategic planning, spiritual formation, and worship were elements of every meeting.

He guided the development of that ministry through some very exciting stages of growth and expansion, as well as through some times of controversy and difficulty. His rock solid faith, calm demeanor, faith, and commitment to truth and fairness served as a powerful illustration of all the books he wrote and the sermons he preached. His life was his message. It was transparent, compelling and transformational. He was Christ-like.

Dr. Oyama's life-long service to Christ has come to an end on this earth. But the impact of his life continues through the thousands of people whose lives were directly enriched and transformed, and that impact is multiplied many times over by those he has and will impact indirectly.

I thank God for the life, leadership, and friendship of Dr. Reiji Oyama. Like David, “he fulfilled the purposes of God in his generation.” Thanks be to God!

Doug Birdsall

____________________________

birdsall jeanie 2022bS. Douglas Birdsall first arrived in Japan with his wife Jeanie in 1980, serving there for 20 years, and they have remained as A3 missionaries for 43+ years. He is the honorary chairman of the Lausanne Movement, a global network of Christians launched in 1974. He has been the executive chairman of Lausanne and provided overall leadership for the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Drawing over 4,000 participants from 198 countries and from a wide variety of denominations, Cape Town 2010 was the most diverse gathering of Christians in history. He was the president of A3 (Asian Access) from 1991-2007. Earlier in his career, Doug played on the 1969 Richwoods High School football team—undefeated, State Champions of Illinois.

 

More Information

  • The family will held a memorial service for Dr. Reiji Oyama on May 26, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • Dr. Reiji Oyama's Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiji_Oyama_(pastor)
  • Dr. Oyama's Takadanobaba Bible Church (Wikipedia)
  • Photos courtesy of A3 unless specified:
    1. Dr. Reiji Oyama (left) was board chair, Dr. Doug Birdsall (middle) was president, Dr. Paul Ariga (right) was vice chair (2007)
    2. Headshot of Rev. Oyama courtesy of https://www.christiantoday.co.jp/
    3. The Biblical Church photo courtesy of Wikipedia
    4. The Board of A3's Japan Church Growth Institute (2007)
    5. Doug Birdsall & Reiji Oyama listening to pastoral graduate presentations at A3's graduation (2007).
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Staff Fri, 26 May 2023 03:00:00 -0700
Decisions, Decisions https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1579-decisions-decisions https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1579-decisions-decisions Linda, Kohei, and kids stand in front of Ippo Ippo group building

By Linda Koyama

Which Mission Organization Should I Choose?

If you’ve considered being in some type of formal ministry abroad, you’ve probably also been on the decision-making trajectory of “which mission organization should I go with?” This was us back in late 2019, early 2020.  

At the end of my last post, “New, But Not: Our Journey to Japan,” I shared that we returned to the US in June of 2019. We needed time to debrief our five-year stint in Japan—and also to figure out if God was keeping the door open to Japan or closing that chapter for us.

Yamagata Japan Map Pink

Increased Needs 

When we left for Japan in 2014, we went with an organization that allowed us move to Japan quickly and support us in the ways we were looking for. It was a great match and they provided the support we asked for and needed. However, as our cross-cultural family grew, our needs also grew. We had arrived in Japan when I was seven months pregnant with our first child. In the five years we were there, we had two additional little ones. There was so much we didn’t know we needed as first time missionaries. The organization we were with was not a mission sending agency, so they had some resources available to us, but not to the extent that larger mission organizations do. 

As we considered our needs moving forward, we sought their advice along with other mentors and trusted friends. It seemed that finding an organization that had more resources and a larger network would be beneficial to our family and our sustainability in ministry. Thus started our research into different sending mission organizations.  

The Search 

Where do you start when there are so many choices? Our approach was to start with what we knew and who we knew. During our time in Japan, we worked with and met many different missionaries from various organizations. We started with those, and checked out their websites. We prayed, asked others to pray, and did as much as we could to get the best feel for each. 

Every organization has their own application process, but generally, you’ll fill out a preliminary application. After we did that, we talked to an initial point person and asked many questions. We had questions of our own, but we also found lists of questions on the web to help us think about things we hadn’t considered.

 Crash Japan 2

 Joshua, our first point of contact with SIM.

Combine lists and don’t be scared to ask anything. Do your homework. You’ll want to know what will be expected of you and whether the organization will meet some of your expectations. You need to know their vision, mission, and ministry approach and if it matches up with yours. Do you want to church plant? Are you more focused on discipleship? Do you want to do contact evangelism? You might not know your desires yet, but every organization has their main way of doing ministry. It’s good to find out their approach and if you jive with that. Try to learn and observe as much as you can in the time you have available.  

Along with me asking a myriad of questions—because frankly, I do ask a lot of questions—we also asked to speak with other missionaries that were on the field or recently returned from the field (Japan specifically).

Many Pluses, but a Wrinkle

So how and why did we end up with SIM USA/A3? Well, for starters, we were looking at the Asian Access (now A3) website because we really liked their philosophy of ministry. When we were in Japan, Kohei met some of the A3 Japan staff and partnering pastors. He was impressed with their desire to raise up lay leaders, because his hope is also to disciple lay leaders so they feel equipped and empowered to continue the Great Commission. 

But there was a wrinkle. When we prepared to submit our application, we learned that Asian Access has a strategic partnership with SIM to receive applications for ministry in Japan. So although we were sold on A3's work in Japan, we realized we had to come through SIM USA. 

At this point, friends and other people we had met during this time asked us why we didn’t just try to start our own ministry or start our own church. I think many of these people saw Kohei’s gifts, the fact that he’s Japanese, and that there are so many possibilities that might not be as easy for non-native speakers of Japanese. As exciting as that sounded, we knew we wanted to partner with the Japanese church, existing ministries, and pastors who are already in a community and living out God’s calling. So we knew being independent wasn’t our thing, at least not in this season. 

Kohei Oura group

Our family with Kimberly, our application coordinator. She connected us with a lot of different missionaries on the field. 

More Pluses

Another reason we ended up joining SIM USA/A3 is because of their member care, both in the preparation process (with SIM USA) and on the field (with A3). This was super important to us as we realized there were times when we didn’t even know we needed member care for us individually and as a couple. They also have great support for our kids and they care and prepare our kids for the field. They really value our children and that was super apparent, impressive, and important to us. 

We also love that when we’re on the field, A3 doesn’t leave us to be on our own, in our own city. They make sure there are other missionary units in our area so that there are opportunities for fellowship. We also told them our concerns about not being moved around all the time with young children, and all these things were taken into consideration when thinking about our placement.  

Of course in the majority of mission sending agencies, you need to build your team of partners who will be praying for you and partner with you financially. During our first five years in Japan, we didn’t have as strong of a support system as we do now. For various reasons, we chose that route then, and now we have something to compare it to. It was hard and not sustainable. There was some accountability, but not as much. We knew we wanted and needed people to be praying for us all the time. We needed to have some structures set up to help us have some long term sustainability, and so this time we went with a traditional mission sending agency rather than independently. 

Now that we’ve decided we like SIM USA/A3, do they like us? Of course! Who wouldn’t? Lol . . . just kidding. It’s a pretty thorough process to see if you and an organization are a good fit for each other. And then there’s lots of preparation to do before leaving for the field. And you guessed it, I’ll share more about that in my next post.

IMG 9129

Our family at the SIM USA headquarters in Charlotte, NC. 

Linda Koyama


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Koyama Linda Koyama, an American-born Chinese, is currently serving with her Japanese husband, Kohei, and young family in Yamagata prefecture. They are partnering with a local church to engage the community with and through Christ's love. 

staff profilestaff profile
emaillkoyama@a3.email

 

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lkoyama@a3.email (Linda) Staff Thu, 13 Apr 2023 23:00:00 -0700
New, But Not: Our Journey to Japan https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1575-new-but-not-our-journey-to-japan https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1575-new-but-not-our-journey-to-japan Linda, Kohei, and kids stand in front of Ippo Ippo group building

By Linda Koyama

Hi, I’m Linda. Nice to meet you. I’m currently writing from Yamagata, Japan, where my family is partnering with a local church. You’ve probably never heard of Yamagata. Don’t worry, neither did I until it was presented as one of the potential prefectures we’d be serving in. 

So where exactly is Yamagata? Think north of Tokyo about 200 miles (300 kilometers), or a 4 1/2 hour drive by car. It’s in the southern part of the Tohoku region, closer to the Japan Sea side (rather than the Pacific Ocean side). It’s definitely not one of Japan’s hot tourist spots, but this region is known for its ski slopes, onsens, and delicious fruits.

Yamagata Japan Map Pink

We’re new to Yamagata, but not really new to Japan. Before we joined SIM/A3, we were in Japan from 2014–2019 with a smaller organization. What brought us here? Well, I’m glad you asked, because that’s what I was going to tell you next. 

A Desire to Serve

Not long after the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, my husband, Kohei, felt a strong pull in his heart to serve in some capacity the people and area that were affected by this triple disaster*. We had the opportunity to volunteer with CRASH Japan, which is somewhat like a pop-up organization that comes together in times of disaster and need to provide relief and other resources. During the two weeks that we served, God really challenged me to think,

What am I willing to leave for the sake of the gospel and God’s kingdom?

My heart felt torn, but nevertheless, Kohei and I decided to pray, listen, and wait on the Lord for six months to see if we felt like moving to Japan was a good next step in our lives. 

Crash Japan 1 Crash Japan 2

 Our time with CRASH Japan with other volunteers for the US

Discerning God's Direction

After returning home, we spent six months in the early half of 2012 praying, listening, reading Scripture, and talking to friends, family, and mentors about our potential move. We felt strongly that God was saying, “Go.” But of course, with any big decision, you always question things. (Well, maybe you don’t, but I do!) 

For Kohei and I, what solidified our decision was being able to say,

Even if things don’t turn out like we think and we find ourselves back in the US, we took a step of faith!

That in and of itself helped us feel like we had nothing to lose. Stretching our faith and relationship with God? Sign me up! 

(Honestly, in the beginning it was exciting . . . but boy, the hardship and heartache that came later stretched my faith and relationship with God far more than I could ever have imagined. Not in an “Oh, this is great and wonderful!” way, but in a truly excruciating way.) 

The Bumpy Road

So, in January 2013 we arrived in Japan on a vision trip. We visited different ministries, joined other volunteers serving in coastal cities, and considered where we wanted to serve and who we wanted to serve with. I had to end the vision trip early for a family emergency. Kohei stayed a bit longer and visited other ministries we had scheduled to see. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we delayed our departure from the US for almost another year and a half—because when is going overseas to serve in missions ever a straight trajectory? 

We finally made the move to Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, in July of 2014. From 2014 to 2019, we worked with the 3.11 Iwate Church Network and also helped out with whatever was needed at our church in Morioka. I say we, but it was mostly Kohei. I was busy learning how to be a new mom in a foreign country with unfamiliar or little support. Because of the language barrier and our need for medical services (I was pregnant with our first child when we arrived), we decided that living in the capital city, Morioka, would serve our family better than being on the coast where language help and hospitals were more limited. Thankfully, Kohei was able to join the Ippo Ippo relief team in the coastal city of Yamada, since he initially wanted to work with the communities that were affected by the tsunami. He traveled once a week to the coast and sometimes more if he needed to help with hosting volunteers or assist in other capacities.

Kohei Oura group

The community center Kohei volunteered at during his time in Yamada. It's a place where the kids could come and play and do/get help with homework. 

Ippo Ippo gathering

Last gathering at Ippo Ippo Yamada

Reflecting on Our Call

I should take a moment to say that although our journey to Japan seemed to start in 2011, that definitely wasn’t the beginning of our heart for missions. After Kohei became a believer in the US, he attended the Equipper’s Conference in southern California. This is an annual conference for Japanese who become believers in the US and for all who have a heart for Japan. During one of the meetings, in a surprise even to himself, he stood up when one of the speakers asked if anyone would like to commit their lives to full-time ministry. He’s always had a longing to share the love of Christ with other Japanese—especially since many of his friends and family still don’t know the Lord. 

My journey started in college when I had the opportunity to do various summer short-term missions. That coupled with attending the Urbana Missions Conference, as both student and staff, was where God started and continued to grow my heart for overseas missions. For me, however, Japan was never on my radar until probably 2012. 

The Next Page in Our Story

Okay, so back to our time in Japan. We served in Japan from 2014 to 2019. During that time our family grew and so did our needs as a multicultural family. The landscape of ministry in the coastal area was also changing—from relief work to longer-term ministry—so we decided to take a break and figure out our next steps. The five-year mark is also when US citizens in many cases need to go back for legal reasons, so all in all, it seemed like a good time to do our home service/furlough. 

(On a side note, I always wondered why missionaries needed to go back to their home countries. Yes, I know, totally horrible, but pre-missionary-experience-me, before ever having lived abroad long-term, thought, “Gosh, those people are weak sauce! Why not just stay for forever?” However, post-experience-me, after having lived abroad for five years non-stop, now realizes, “Wow, it’s a really good thing to go back to your home country, regroup, and get the support you didn’t know you needed!”—along with many other reasons.) 

So, we returned to the US at the end of June 2019. To continue the story, in “Decisions, Decisions,” I’ll share our next discernment process and how we joined SIM/A3. 

*massive earthquake, followed by tsunami, and then nuclear reactor meltdowns 

Linda Koyama


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Koyama Linda Koyama, an American born Chinese, is currently serving with her Japanese husband, Kohei, and young family in Yamagata prefecture. They are partnering with a local church to engage the community with and through Christ's love. 

staff profilestaff profile
emaillkoyama@a3.email

 

 

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lkoyama@a3.email (Linda) Staff Wed, 15 Feb 2023 23:00:00 -0800
It's a Different World... https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1574-its-a-different-world https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1574-its-a-different-world Tia stands in front of a Japanese shrine

By Tia Blassingame

Okay, if you look like me you probably started singing that song title and know exactly where I got it from. Perfect, because it has been playing in my head all week! This is truly a different world. Right now, I am at a homestay with my onēsan (pronounced ohnay-sahn) and her family. That term right there is already different vocabulary for you I’m assuming. Onēsan is “older sister” and a “homestay” is when you stay overnight (or more than one night) with a family. In basic “Tia terms” (that’s me), I’m at a sleepover with my sis and her fam. Let me backtrack a bit...

 

October 7, 2022 – The Departure

Waking up early the morning of October 7 so that I could get to the airport on time, I was so excited I felt I could float on air all the way to Japan. After years of preparing and waiting, I was finally on my way! God’s promise was finally being fulfilled. My sister-friend Marci and her mom drove me to the airport, prayed over me, and then escorted me all the way to the TSA security line. They hugged me and said, “We can’t go any further with you.”

It was at that moment the beautiful dancing butterflies in my stomach deserted me and became stones of doubt, anxiety, and fear. WHAT was I doing?! There I was, an African-American woman that nine years before had transitioned from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Atlanta, Georgia. As if that move wasn’t scary enough, I was now transplanting my entire life across the world to a place where there aren’t many people who look like me—Japan! I thank God for my friend, for her mom, for the TSA agent who told me she was proud of me, and for the stranger that stopped to hear what was going on as I stood frozen in line in tears. She hugged me and told me it would be alright.

After I grabbed a quick breakfast and made a few quick calls to say goodbye (my dad being the main one), I boarded my flight. We departed from Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport October 7 at 11:20 a.m. EST, and I landed in Tokyo’s Haneda Airport October 8 at 2:20 p.m. JST. (When the US is on Standard Time, Japan time is 13 hours ahead of Atlanta, so to my body, it was now 1:20 a.m.!) This was it. I was here . . . JAPAN.

Looking out a plane window at Japan

The Arrival

From the moment I stepped off the plane I felt like I was in a new world. The airport departure procedure in Japan is so technical, but efficient. Not just that, as I looked around, I was the ONLY brown person in sight. I remember trying to explain to someone how I was going to be the oddball, the “other.” They looked at me and said, “We’re all the ‘other’ because we’re all foreigners to them.” My response was, “Yeah, but I’m the OTHER other.” It’s very hard to explain to people that are not brown or considered a minority in their own country how different and potentially difficult that feeling of being different is.

For example . . . I just happened to be on the same flight as another teammate. When we landed, we ended up going through the whole departure process together. People would give her the “you’re different” look and keep moving. Then they would see me, give me the look, and practically break their necks because they never looked away.

I saw this especially in kids on the train. At one point my teammate finally saw it for herself. There was a young man on the train who couldn’t stop staring. It was comical because he was not a small man and kept trying to hide behind a pole so he could stare at me. As he got off of the train he didn’t stop looking. He walked backward and even pulled his camera out and aimed it at me. I was tempted to pose . . . but I didn’t. I was too tired from traveling to find my Philly girl response. It was then that I had to have a pep talk with myself:

Tia, being different is not a bad thing. You are here to represent the Creator. He created you with purpose and for a purpose. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I will say that I have been here for four months now and it still happens.

My City, My Friends, My Home

Well, they put this big city girl in a rural agricultural city: Yonezawa, Yamagata. All of my fears, worries, and the horror stories I’ve heard about being black in Japan have turned out to be not as major as I thought. I will say that may be because of where I live. While it has been a bit difficult getting used to a slow life in comparison to living in a busy city, I can absolutely say that the people here take good care of me. And while they are curious about my differences, they are kind. Remember in the beginning when I said I was doing a homestay? That’s because it’s so cold in Yonezawa right now that the pipes in my house froze. My big sis (by the way, she adopted me as her sister the first week we met) told me to come stay with her family since temperatures are below freezing this week.

Speaking of curiosity, when I’ve had children ask about my hair or why my skin is brown, I take their questions as opportunities to talk to their inquisitive little minds about the beauty of differences. However, this journey hasn’t just been about me being embraced; I’ve had the opportunity to learn about this culture and the beauty of it. Currently, I’m taking Japanese language lessons, and I’m also learning how to play the taiko drum.

My journey has been amazing, and it’s just the beginning. The best is yet to come!

A group of people standing in front of a Japanese taiko drum

Tia Blassingame


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tia Blassingame Tia Blassingame is originally from Philadelphia, PA in the USA. She is passionate about God and God's people. She is excited to work with the people and churches of Yamagata as together they display God's love in action throughout the region.

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emailtblassingame@a3.email

 

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tblassingame@asianaccess.org (Tia Blassingame) Staff Tue, 07 Feb 2023 23:00:00 -0800
Living a "Relevant Life" https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1569-living-a-relevant-life https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1569-living-a-relevant-life a cup of coffee and the bible open to psalms

Rethinking how God's Word is "relevant" to our lives and ministries

By Kent Muhling

I sometimes pray Psalm 143:8 at the beginning of my morning devotions. It reads, 

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, 
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, 
for to you I lift up my soul.” 

It’s a great one-verse prayer, seeking God’s presence and guidance at the beginning of the day. 

One morning I decided to read the entire psalm before going on to the assigned chapters in my Bible reading plan. And it struck me how much less relevant other parts of the psalm seemed to be at first—sentiments such as these: 

Give ear to my pleas for mercy!
Enter not into judgment with your servant.
For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground.
My soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! 

I’ve never faced the kind of opposition that King David (the author of this psalm) did. I’ve never been in physical, mortal danger from human enemies like David often was, so in one sense it would be natural not to identify with his words as much as someone who has been in the same circumstances. Reading psalms such as this one, it would be easy to sort of dismiss them, thinking, “Well, they’re just not relevant to my life. I’m not in those kind of circumstances.” 

But then again, what kind of circumstances are we talking about? There are other kinds of opposition besides physical. A verbal attack is still an attack. A spiritual attack is still an attack. 

And the New Testament warns us that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). The attacks will come. 

Jesus assumes that we will be persecuted: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matt 5:11). Verbal attack. 

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:11 and verses following that we have a real enemy, the devil, and that believers are engaged in a battle “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Spiritual attack. 

And in Acts 14:22 we are reminded again that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” In whatever form, living the Christian life will entail opposition. 

So why would I sense that David’s pleas are “not relevant to me”? 

Then the thought came to me: 

Is God’s Word not relevant to me, or is my life not relevant to God? 

By “not relevant to God,” I am not suggesting that God does not care about me or does not love me. I am asking, “Is my life not relevant in the sense of not being aligned with his purposes for my life? Is there no opposition because I am not living a Christian life worthy of being opposed? Is there no opposition because the flow of my life is simply following the current of the world? Am I just ‘going with the flow,’ so to speak?” 

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Go against the flow. 

  • We are called to follow Jesus as his disciples (Matt 4:19 and many others).
  • We are sent into the world as his witnesses (Acts 1:8).
  • We have been given the ministry of reconciliation as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor 5:18–20).
  • We are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received (Eph 4:1).
  • We are called to be holy in all our conduct (1 Pet 1:15). 

Whether I enter full-time vocational Christian service or not—whether I head to a far-away land as a cross-cultural missionary or not—every one of the above statements is true for every one of us who claims to be disciples of Christ. 

All of this puts us out of step with the world and in the way of opposition. And that is good news in a way, because it is when under attack that we become most aware of our need for God. Like David was. 

Which brings us back to Psalm 143:8. Backing up one verse, David writes, 

Answer me quickly, O LORD!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul. 

David wasn’t simply hoping for some warm, inspiring touch of God’s presence to send him into his day, serene and happy. He was desperate for God to show up and save him. In the face of severe opposition, he was desperate for God’s presence and guidance. 

Sort of puts that “morning devotion prayer verse” in a different light, doesn’t it? 

No matter where we live — on the foreign mission field or in our home country — may we live in such a way that David’s pleas are relevant to us, too.

Kent Muhling


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kent Muhling Kent and Yuko Muhling have served with A2 in Japan for over 15 years. As a family of five they moved to the disaster area in 2012 to help start Grace Center Church Sendai, a city-center church plant. God has blessed the work with a vibrant international community. They continue the work of being Good News in their city.

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emailkmuhling@asianaccess.org

 

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KMuhling@aol.com (Kent Muhling) Staff Tue, 07 Feb 2023 23:00:00 -0800
When the Shackle of Fear Crumbles, Part 3 https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1567-when-the-shackle-of-fear-crumbles-part-3 https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1567-when-the-shackle-of-fear-crumbles-part-3 shackles3 luca bravo O453M2Liufs unsplash 800px

Part 3: Until everything is about Jesus 

In Part 1 of my testimony "What does obedience look like?", I shared about God’s call, my struggle to say yes, and having a glimpse of what obedience looks like. In Part 2 "Holding onto the things I cannot see", I shared about my struggles with the fear of disappointment, what ifs, and learning to let go of the things I see to hold on to the things unseen.

2022 is the home run for me. The fear is still present and hunting me, but it wasn't as strong as it started. The greatest battle that I faced this year was myself. I realized that my love for myself is much greater than my love for people, nations, and ministries. I had to battle with my pride. Loving people is tiring, pursuing nations is hard, and being consistent with ministry requires a lot of intentionality. Everything I’m doing overwhelmed me. I was tired and beginning to burn out. I lost the reasons why I am doing what I'm doing. I know that I don't have to do anything for God to love me. I can easily justify to myself that I don't have to do far and beyond for God. He loves me no matter what anyway. Yet, I cannot love myself more than I love Jesus. No matter how much I justify it, I cannot love myself more than Jesus. As I was starting to burn out, God was very intentional in leading me to Jesus. He led me to Jesus until everything in my being reasons Jesus.

My Vision Trip to Japan

When I visited Japan this November, I spent 16 days there to make me realize that there is nothing I can do until and unless Jesus works in me and through me. All my fear, doubts, and insecurities, I cannot win over them, but Jesus can. I have never been so desperate and dependent on Jesus until now. 

hanna japan vision trip

On December 1, 2022, I had a meeting with the mission organizations, and after the meeting, I just cried out to God. And for the first time in 2 years and 6 months, the shackle of fear is no longer holding me. The fear that was so familiar and I knew so well was not present anymore. For 2 years and 6 months, the fear that haunts me crumbled because of Jesus. It took me so long to realize that everything is about Jesus, and when the freedom of knowing that there is nothing I can do, the shackle of fear crumbles.

"Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."
— John 15:5

Hanna Evardone


Hanna EvardoneHanna Evardone was born and raised in a small town in the middle part of the Philippines and is an expat of a beautiful Arab country. She enjoys meeting people with different nationalities, cultures, and beliefs, and loves exploring their food! She states, "I'm someone who talks a lot and still learning how to stop!"

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envision light 500x500ENVISION

is a highly customized vision trip into Japan where you can meet Asian Access missionaries and Japanese pastors, be involved in some ministry activities, see Japan and explore your options as a possible missional partner missionary in Japan. Find out more...

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hanna.evardone@a3.email (Hanna Rose Evardone) Staff Wed, 04 Jan 2023 11:30:00 -0800
When the Shackle of Fear Crumbles, Part 2 https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1566-when-the-shackle-of-fear-crumbles-part-2 https://go2japan.org/a2/blog/authors/staff-blog/1566-when-the-shackle-of-fear-crumbles-part-2 shackle2 alexander hafemann M EwSRl8BK8 unsplash 800px

Part 2: Holding onto the things I cannot see 

In Part 1 of my testimony "What does obedience look like?", I shared about God’s call, my struggle to say yes, and having a glimpse of what obedience looks like.

The journey of obedience is still not easy. I was still fearful, and insecure but not as lonely. In 2021, I started meeting people who are walking the same journey as me, and I felt that I found my tribe. I became more involved in mission mobilization and made good friends. Yet, the fear never left, it was hunting me. I was still so scared about the unknown, and another fear appeared, the fear of disappointment.

I have invested so much in the journey, and I am making decisions with the thought of Japan, which made me feel too limited. I started to feel jealous of my friends who were free to decide their lives and work hard on it. I felt that I don't have the luxury to even desire outside Japan. I'm still young and ambitious, but I felt limited. I had to battle with a lot of what-ifs. What if this journey doesn't work out? What if I don't get married? What if I will regret this? What if... what if... what if...

Another battle of fear, I started to wonder how many fears I will discover on this journey. Even though I laugh and encourage people, I cannot run away from the fear that is hunting me. Running away from the journey is a good option for me; but I also fear, what if the cost of running away is God's best for me. I don't want to let go of God's plan for my life because I want to settle for easy. But it was hard to let go of the things that I see to hold onto the things I cannot see.

In 2021, several people I knew died young, and most of them died unexpectedly. For so long, I have been praying to live a life that is worthy of Jesus' death. And the fear of not living the full life that God has for me scares me. I started to realize that I don't have control over my life. If I drop dead, my story is finished. I don't want to be someone who loves God, and that's it. I want to live a life that even though it is crazy, I won't have regrets about not trying. I might not do well, but at least I tried. I don't want to face Jesus and say, I should have done this and did that. I want Jesus to tell me,

"Well done, Hanna, I'm proud of you."

And this made me let go of my future and helped me trust in the one who holds my future.

Hanna Evardone

P.S. - Look for Part 3 soon...


Hanna EvardoneHanna Evardone was born and raised in a small town in the middle part of the Philippines and is an expat of a beautiful Arab country. She enjoys meeting people with different nationalities, cultures, and beliefs, and loves exploring their food! She states, "I'm someone who talks a lot and still learning how to stop!"

 

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hanna.evardone@a3.email (Hanna Rose Evardone) Staff Tue, 03 Jan 2023 11:00:00 -0800