Sue Takamoto

The Takameter

BLOG POSTS FROM SUE TAKAMOTO (AND SOMETIMES ERIC)

Kansai Team Ministry Report - 05

Here is a fun and encouraging report from the team in the Kansai church planting network near Osaka, Japan made a few years ago.

Because Urbana '09 has just ended recently, we thought it would be especially helpful to repost an article written after a previous Urbana by A2 missionary Sue Takamoto, who first attended Urbana '84.


road sign

Decision Making and God's Perspective

Making sense of Urbana and your own personal journey

 

Osaka, JAPAN | written by Sue Takamoto, Ph.D. (A2)

  • "Oh no… It's been two [weeks] since Urbana and 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!

For 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.

Our 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…

God 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 missions 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 afterwards 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 desires 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.

Our 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:

  • Become a participant in your church's missions committee
  • Volunteer at a missions organization
  • Participate in your school's global outreach opportunities
  • Find a retired missionary who lives nearby and meet with them regularly (nothing will fire you up more than this!).
  • 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."
  • Support an overseas missionary. Get their prayer letters; send them occasional encouraging emails.
  • Get on the bike and participate in a short-term missions experience.
  • 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.

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 Crosswalk.com, Amazon or Google.

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..
  • Better yet, register for an account at http://go2japan.org where you can read FAQs and talk with real missionaries on our go2japan forum.

Sue Takamoto and a friendSue Takamoto (on left in picture) 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. In 2001, she and her husband Eric, along with Maltese Molly, moved to Sendai, Japan with Asian Access to work in a local church called L’Abri. They are now Area Leaders of the Osaka church planting network and one son and two daughters. To find Sue's blog, you can find a link here.


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A2 Advent Devotional • December 13, 2010

by Sue Plumb Takamoto

Christmas in Japan is one of the busiest times of year for Asian Access missionaries. It is the season when Japanese are the most open to hearing the Gospel because of their interest in Christmas and its origin.

Several years ago I began praying with a Japanese Christian friend about teaching a special Christmas English Bible study and craft class for non-Christian women in our community. We were excited as fifteen ladies came to the four weeks of study. We made snowmen out of baby socks, cloth wreaths, and read and studied about the first-ever real Christmas.

The second week we read Luke 2:1–7: Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem because of the census . . . Mary needing to deliver a baby . . . and no room in any hotels, so they delivered the baby in a manger. A story most of us have heard so many times.

Near the end of the study that morning, the ladies shared with a partner what they’ve learned. As I walked around the room, I noticed my neighbor friend Naomi had tears in her eyes. She shared with her partner and me that she had always had an image of God as a tyrant, who tells people to go here or go there, to go to heaven or hell. Hearing this story, she was so touched to realize that her image of God was wrong. That God became human just like us . . . with an incredibly normal birth . . . that Jesus actually was a little baby, born in a dirty stable. She said, "this changes everything I thought about God."

God became like us, and knows all about the ins and outs of daily life. This is the beauty of the incarnation, isn’t it? Our favorite ministry verse is John 1:14: "The Word became flesh, and moved into the neighborhood." Hallelujah for a Savior born as a baby who knows what it’s like to move into this world, with all of its challenges, joys, and sorrows. He understands the ins and outs of friendship, rejection, stressors, family challenges. He abides with us through these things. Hallelujah for such always-ness and constant, steadfast love.

Madeline L’Engle writes:

"I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present."

The Incarnation is a celebration of this reality—the presence of God coming to us. And staying with us through thick and thin. As Naomi and these ladies have been finding out, and as you and I know—truly, knowing the Incarnate Jesus changes everything.

Sue's blog headshot

Sue Plumb Takamoto
Church Multiplication Missionary
Sanda, Japan

 

Notes:

  • Today is Eric & Sue Takamoto's wedding anniversary.
  • You can read Sue's blog:  The Takameter
  • This is one of 29 devotional entries. If you would like to download a PDF of the entire A2 Advent Devotional to read along with us, click here...


Posted by Sue Takamoto

We wanted to send out a brief update to let you know that we are all okay in the midst of the 8.8 earthquake that has hit the east coast of Japan.  Our mission has been gathered since yesterday in the Nagano mountains, about 200 miles from the epicenter, for our annual retreat.  There are six members from our church in Washington D.C., Fourth Presbyterian, who are here with us as well to minister to our children during this time.  We have been very thankful for their presence and stability to our children during this scary time.  

Even as far away as we are, the earthquake was scary and lasted a long time.  We were all put into one room for an hour or two while the retreat staff checked for gas leaks and other earthquake concerns.  We are fine here now, but our hearts are grieving from the news that has been coming in.

Many of you remember that Eric and I first worked together from 2001-2003 in Sendai, which is the epicenter of the earthquake.  We were able to call one of our closest friends, Kazue H., and are incredibly thankful that we reached her cell phone since other phone calls have since been hard.  Their home is very close to the coast.  She and her family were able to get to her mother's home, much farther inland, before the tsunami hit.  But they are sure that their home is gone (the name of the small village is Arahama- one of the terrible videos on the news of houses, roads, and fields being washed away is Arahama).  She has not been able to contact our other friends from our church there, L'Abri Bible Chuch.  The church and our neighborhood are less than 2 miles from the coast, so we are just too sad as we imagine the possible devastation.  We are sure, though, that God will use the faith of these believers to reach out to the hurting in the community.

God's timing is strange.  Last Saturday Eric and I attended an all-day training to help Christians in Japan be prepared to respond in case of earthquake.  Eric was supposed to teach English that day, but we felt this training was really important for us to attend.  We both sense that it is likely that Eric will go and be part of relief efforts.  How thankful we are for God's timing in preparing us to be able to more practically help..  We will pray and wait to see how God may use our family, our mission, and the Church to bring much-needed relief as the days unfold.  Our prayer is that God will quickly move and unite the Church to reach out during this terrible tragedy.  The news that we are hearing is that it may be the worst earthquake in the history of Japan.  

We also believe that God has our mission gathered at this time for His purposes.  Pray that God will give us wisdom and allow us to be strategic in what will be challenging days ahead.  We do pray that the God of Psalm 46 will bring hope to those who right now are buried in tragedy.  

Thanks for your prayers and your concern.  We will continue to bring you news as we can from in-country.  It is hard to know how to pray, but we believe that the Spirit intercedes for us when words do not come.   Earlier tonight we prayed Psalm 46;  we have prayed for mercy, for miracles, for accounts of Japanese whose eyes are opened to the realities of His love even in the midst of this.

With love,

Eric and Sue Takamoto

by Sue Takamoto

Thanking 

Thank you for the outpouring of love and concern for our family during this past week. First, be assured that we are all fine. All of our Asian Access family are safe from harm. We have received word that all members of our Sendai church, as well, are safe, though our dear friend Kazue lost her home in the Arahama tsunami. (Perhaps you saw some pictures of this town on the news.)

Weeping 

The past seven days have been some of the most intense that we have known. Our hearts have wept at the destruction and pain of the people we love so much. Hearing numbers doesn't affect us as much as seeing one person on the news who is completely desolate, or talking to a friend on the phone who has experienced such loss. I'm sure many of you feel like this.

Giving 

Many have written and asked how to give. We recommend either Asian Access’ relief fund that has been set up specifically to provide resources to our church partners and other agencies doing relief (to give to Asian Access, mark checks for Japan Tsunami Relief Fund and send to Asian Access, PO Box 20, San Dimas, CA 91773), or to give to CRASH/Japan.  There are other great organizations as well; these are the two that we know the best. Read this short list of recommended organizations for more donation options.

Preparing 

As many of you know, Eric and three of our missionary friends are on their way up to the Sendai area. The three of them have been asked to set up one of four or five base camps over the next two weeks in one of the hardest-hit areas. They will be able to survey the needs, the gaps, and hopefully prepare for many teams to come in and do relief work. Asian Access has linked with CRASH/Japan, a non-profit organization started by a missionary that has become the largest Christian coordinating agency during this tragedy. We shared previously that six days before the earthquake and tsunami, seven of us from Sanda (Osaka) with Asian Access attended the all-day training in order to be ready in case there was a disaster.  We marvel at God’s timing.

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Sending

We have only had twenty-four hours to prepare Eric and the crew for this trip, and have been touched by the many from our local community who brought over needed supplies. 

Group shot before the four guys leave Osaka to head north.

The team left Osaka to go to Tokyo and stay overnight before heading to set up a base camp. 

Putting tarp over the truck bed.

You can follow our blog or find both of us on Facebook for photos and more detailed information – I am posting often so that you, our family and friends further away, can be more aware of what is going on and how to pray. 

Praying

Many have expressed concern about the problems being created by the nuclear reactors leaking. We of course are concerned as well, and thankful that CRASH and Asian Access continue monitoring the situation. It is possible that their base campsite will be changed if the situation worsens. We will keep you posted, but of course covet your prayers.

  • Pray with us that God would stop the leak – He can do this!
  • Our hearts ache for the many who need relief who can’t get it because they are too close to the reactors.
  • Pray for safety as they drive; for enough gasoline to make it up to the site (one friend on the return home said he had to stop at every rest stop to get enough to return).
  • For God’s clear leading about where they should set up the base camp;
  • For God to keep them safe and give them many divine encounters as they serve those who are hurting.
  • As we become aware of other ways that needs can be met, we will let you know.
  • One other way to pray – shortly after Eric started driving, I started to feel really crummy. Tonight, three of the four kids and I are home with fevers and chills.  (You go Olivia!  She’s still bouncing!) I am thankful that the fever held off until I could help get the guys sent off, but I do need healing so that I can care for our children.  

With thankfulness for your partnership,

Sue Takamoto (for Eric, too) 


Quick Update 

The guys made it to Tokyo - yeah!  They are unloading the truck and reloading gear for tomorrow morning. They had just had a briefing at the Tokyo CRASH headquarters assigning them to go to Ibaraki prefecture (the most southern part of earthquake/tsunami zone) and work on setting up a base camp.

Five minutes later, the director came in and said that Samaritan's Purse is flying in 90 tons (NINE ZERO WOW) of supplies and they are going to land at Sendai's airport. (If you saw footage of the airport you know it's a miracle that anything could land there!  The government apparently has cleared off enough of the landing strips for rescue vehicles to land). They need "all hands on deck"... and would like our guys to first go up to Sendai and unload the cargo so that it can quickly be distributed to those who need it. 

First thing in Saturday morning I need to call our Sanda truck rental and see if we can extend the contract by two days - pray that they are willing.  There is a shortage of trucks and this would be a big help.  As Eric just said, all of these plans are in the hands of Jesus and they are just listening minute by minute, knowing that anything could change by the morning.  Check our blog/Facebook for updates.

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PO Box 3307
Cerritos, CA 90703 USA
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