Urbana Articles

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We Made It!

I know us old folk serving as exhibitors and staff at Urbana 2022 were proudly declaring this at the very end of the year and rolling into 2023, the official end of a marathon of a conference. But on our last day in the Connections Hall, I was comforted by the fact that many of the students I was praying for were also pretty exhausted! Let's say it again: We made it!

Japanese woodblock printing picture of women drinking tea

Diversity AND Unity

The prevailing theme over Urbana today was this idea of unity across diversity, love across division. I was already experiencing stirrings of this on Wednesday, but like any good teacher, the Holy Spirit is patiently using repetition to drive the point home. 

Japanese woodblock printing picture of women drinking tea

What is your one next step?

Tonight at Urbana, when introducing Bishop Claude Alexander, Anna "ah-yee" Lee-Winans prefaced with this question: What is your one next step? Bishop Alexander then walked us through the story of Stephan in Acts, expounding a little further upon how we can discern the next step. That next step is often "accepting God's call to what is known."

diverse worship leaders at Urbana Conference 2022

The feeling started to come over me even as I was browsing the bookstore at the back of the Connection Hall. Exhibitors had yesterday and today to get set up, and yesterday SIM finished in four hours. I got the chance to meander among the other exhibitors and the bookstore in the calm before the storm of thousands of students thundering through the conference halls. 

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We have made it to Urbana! Boy, what a trip it has been so far. And we're only getting started...

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It didn’t take long for me to start feeling my age. I moved to Japan just two years removed from university, and from there most of my learning “to adult” happened abroad. During my first term as an SIM/Asian Access missionary, I spent the summer mentoring short-term missionaries who came to serve through our internship program.

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

Bethany holding cake decorated with Japan

I recently scoured the internet archives to find the blog I started in 2011 as an English teacher in Japan, about five years before getting connected with SIM and Asian Access missionaries. After over a decade of calling Japan home, I wanted to see with fresh eyes how young Bethany encountered Japan. How did God lead me there? How was I listening and following the voice of my Good Shepherd then?

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."

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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?

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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.

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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.


rr profileRobert & Roberta Adair are contributors to go2japan and are serving as Missional Partners at Shiogama Bible Baptist Church in Miyagi. Robert also serves as Missionary Director for Asian Access/Japan. Their desire is to come alongside the church in Japan and be an encouragement to it in sharing the love of Christ. Together, they write about life in Japan and missionary work there with Asian Access/SIM USA and their stories generally appear on their own blog, Adair Update...

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

baumans 2015Gary & Barbara Bauman have been missionaries to Japan with Asian Access since 1988. Gary is the former editor of Japan Harvest magazine and focuses his time now developing strategic print and digital ministry resources that enhance Kingdom advance. Barbara leads and trains mothers to lead parenting classes. Visit their staff profile here and their website https://garyandbarbara.com for more info.

browns 2015Dan & Casi Brown have served with Asian Access since 2012 and have ministered in Rifu, Japan at Oasis Chapel. They are disciples of Jesus Christ, humbled to serve Him in Japan. Love to surf and play soccer. Though the Browns have returned to the States, these stories of theirs give an insightful peek into the lives of short-term missionaries in Japan.

takamotos 350Sue Takamoto has lived in Zimbabwe, New Jersey, Indiana, Washington, D.C., and Pasadena, but Japan is home for her family. They love being in Japan with their four children — having adopted all of them while living there. They are working with Asian Access/SIM USA to make disciples in Japan. A year after the Great Japan Disaster in 2011, God called the Takamotos to move up to the city of Ishinomaki. Sue and Eric met at Fuller, and went together to Japan in 2001. They lived in Sendai for two years, and then spent the next 8 or so years in the Kobe/Osaka area before moving up north. These posts are about my life, full of surprises, joys, challenges, relationships, and amazing children! Full of encounters with God... found at: www.takameter.com

go2japanThis section contains blog posts made by a variety of guest writers—A2/SIM staff serving in Japan, recently returned alumni, and even pre-field candidates. Contributors include: Erik Boehme, Jessica Kidwell, Kent Muhling, Elliott Snuggs, Eric Takamoto, Takeshi Takazawa, Dorrie Takazawa, Mary Jo Wilson, and many more.

joe-2010-smallJoe Handley is the President of Asian Access. He is married to wife Silk, and they have two daughters and a son. Joe joined Asian Access in 2008 and loves traveling to hear the stories firsthand of Asian Access' impact, and sharing those stories with our ministry partners who enable Asian Access to function. Here are some of his posts to highlight our work. Hopefully you'll be encouraged to get involved in this ministry by prayer, giving and maybe even going!

Jeff JohnstonJeff Johnston is the founder of go2japan. He has been serving with Asian Access since 1987, having first gone to Japan immediately after graduating from college. Currently the Vice President for Advancement & Communications at Asian Access, he works on writing, video, websites, photography, corporate identity, advancement and A2's social media presence. These are some of the articles he has written for Asian Access.

Yoshiya HariYoshiya Hari serves as the National Director of Asian Access Japan. Rev. Hari also is the senior pastor of Saikyo Nozomi Chapel, within the Keisen Christ Church denomination. More of his articles and work can be found here: http://asianaccess.or.jp/


kawasaki川崎先生のブローグ - Hiroshi Kawasaki served as Director of JCGI Network from 1996 until 2016. He has been pastoring Japanese churches for over 50 years. His current church, Yamagata Christian Fellowship was planted in 1996 as a part of the first Asian Access church multiplication network. Rev. Kawasaki's articles are in Japanese.