Sue Takamoto



blog posts from Eric & Sue Takamoto

Because Urbana '22 has just concluded, we thought it would be especially helpful to repost an article written after a previous Urbana by Asian Access missionary Sue Takamoto, who first attended Urbana '84.

Decision-Making and God's Perspective

  • "Oh no… It's been several weeks since Urbana, but I haven't signed up with a mission agency yet. Am I out of God's will?"
  • "How will I ever decide?!"
  • "I think God and my parents have very different ideas about what's best for my life…"
  • "Urbana still doesn't make sense to me."

If any of these statements sound like you, you're not alone… and believe it or not, you're quite normal!

road signFor many of us who attended previous Urbana conventions, as we reflect, we recognize that our lives were completely changed because we attended Urbana. They have taken a certain trajectory that otherwise may never have happened. Urbana was a landmark. On the timelines of our lives, Urbana leaves behind a great big STAR because it was so significant in how God shapes us.

But, you may think, I haven't made any major decisions since Urbana. The "magic" didn't work for me.

God is much more able to use and to move a young Christian who's completely open and pliable before Him than an experienced missionary who no longer listens to the Lord's voice.

May I suggest first – give it time. And then, read over three ideas to help you process your Urbana experience:

1. God is most interested in our response to Him.

worship aliane schwartzhaupt raeSgX3u3ZA unsplashOur greatest responsibility in life, I believe, is to continually keep open, obedient hearts before Him. For many of us, Urbana is just a beginning step, not an end. Often it is during our times of "not knowing" that we are most pliable and transformed by Him.

My mentor Bobby Clinton often says that God is at work in us over a lifetime, and he suggests that it is during our twenties and thirties that God is more concerned with our INWARD responses and formation rather than any work we may try and do for God during those years.

Remember some of those great worship times? Ken Fong suggested in his first message that God's first kiss to us was in Genesis 1; but when we worship, we kiss God back—sometimes feebly… sometimes without great understanding… sometimes with wrong motives. No matter how or why, God wants us to respond to him. He delights in the heartfelt responses of those who love Him.

More significant than how many Urbana delegates checked off a box indicating that they intend to become missionaries is how many of us surrendered our hearts and lives to God. God is much more able to use and to move a young Christian who's completely open and pliable before Him than an experienced missionary who no longer listens to the Lord's voice.

2. Just get on the bicycle…

bicycle didier weemaels 4yfdgmbgBWU unsplashGod is much more able to direct us when we're moving forward than when we're sitting still, trying to decide whether to get on or not.

This was great advice given to me after Urbana '84 that proved true. I stood up the last day when Billy Graham spoke, and I committed to go overseas as a missionary. I meant it with every cell in my body!… but it wasn't until five years later that I left for Japan as a missionary.

God had work to do in me in the meantime, but Urbana was a way for me to get moving. I found out about different mission organizations serving in Japan. I signed up for two organizations' newsletters. I called these missions twice a year after college to find out what these organizations were doing, and to let them know I was still possibly interested. I started supporting two missionaries in Japan—only $10 a month at first, but it was a beginning. They sent me their newsletters, and I prayed for them.

I also participated in two short-term mission trips while I was waiting for the "long-term call." And it was after the return from the second 2-week trip to the Dominican Republic, while I was sick in bed recovering from a virus I picked up there, that God spoke to me. He spoke to ME! Somehow, very clearly in my heart, the Lord used that trip to the D.R. and my quiet times of reflection afterward to say...

"Sue, it's time. You apply, and I'll do the rest."

I called the two agencies I was in touch with, and asked a LOT of questions. They didn't mind! They welcomed my desire to learn about them, and they learned about me. When I received their statements of faith, one very clearly matched my own. So did their philosophy of ministry. After getting much prayer support and counsel from godly friends, I applied and used the application process to confirm my desire to serve in Japan with Asian Access. I prayed that God would allow the screening committee to affirm or redirect my ideas.

I was blown away at how clearly He guided me through this process!

3. Keep your passion alive by surrounding yourself with people who also love missions and ministry.

community kevin schmid zLcvs3yTEF4 unsplash 1Our Christian community can provide perspective when we need it. They can remind us of our calling when the world's voice seems to grow louder than God's. They keep us honest about what God has us here for.

I have watched friends who made commitments to missions, and then seen them get great jobs (nothing wrong with that, by the way!), and buy nice homes (nothing wrong with this either!) ... and get involved in comfortable churches … and then have a complete community in which no one even talks or thinks about missions. Something is wrong with this picture.

God WILL call some of us to stay back and be senders. But the best supporters I have still have hearts for missions, and they continue to desire to be a part of what God is doing around the world.

Some practical ideas to stay linked with missions:

  1. Become a participant in your church's missions committee
  2. Volunteer at a missions organization
  3. Participate in your school's global outreach opportunities
  4. Find a retired missionary who lives nearby and meet with them regularly (nothing will fire you up more than this!).
  5. Read missionary biographies. During the five years between my Urbana experience and when I left for the mission field, I tried to read as many missionary biographies as I could find. And I would pray, "Lord, allow me to serve like Irene Webster Smith!" or "Give me a heart of humility like Amy Carmichael."
  6. Support an overseas missionary. Get their prayer letters; send them occasional encouraging emails.
  7. Get on the bike and participate in a short-term missions experience.
  8. Stay in touch with mission agencies you have connected with. Ask to be on their general mailing list. Call THEM once in a while and ask about how God is corporately directing them. Find out how you might fit into their ministries with your gifts and interests.

making sense hennie stander MKvKLElBLwY unsplash 800px

For Further Reading:

  • The Making of a Leader: Recognizing the Lessons and Stages of Leadership Development.
    by J. Robert Clinton, 1988. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

A few good mission biographies:

  • A Chance to Die:  the story of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Through Gates of Splendor – the story of Jim & Elisabeth Elliot
  • Inn of the Sixth Happiness – the story of Gladys Aylward
  • Mountain Rain: the story of J.O. Fraser
  • In the Arena: the story of Isobel Kuhn
  • Sensei: The life of Irene Webster-Smith
  • Irene Webster Smith: An Irish Woman Who Impacted Japan by Sue Plumb Takamoto

To find out more information about any of these missionary biographies listed above, you might check out, Amazon or Google.

Sue Takamoto

More information...

  • If you would like more information about Asian Access' short-term mission programs, you can find it here... or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Photo credits:
  • More articles by Sue Takamoto...

Sue Takamoto and a friendSusan Plumb Takamoto, Ph.D. first went to Japan in 1984 on Asian Access’ summer program, and then spent three years in Japan from 1989 – ’92. She worked in Asian Access' U.S. office from 1993 to 2001 in a variety of roles, including Director of Human Resource Development. Sue completed her Ph.D. in leadership studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, where she met her husband Eric. In 2001, she and Eric moved to Sendai, Japan with Asian Access to work in a local church, and then to Osaka to lead a church planting network. Following the Japan disaster of 2011, Sue and Eric moved their family to Ishinomaki, Japan, part of a church planting network called Be One. As a way to address the unemployment from the disaster, Sue launched Nozomi Project, a microenterprise solution to give jobs to over a dozen women. Sue owns more pieces of Nozomi jewelry than she would care to admit!

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