Our God, Eager to Save

Posted January 10, 2010

Tomohisa had reached a coveted status in Japan’s vertically-ordered society: medical doctor. Along with the status came wealth, which he used to buy the affection of women…and lots of booze. His selfishness blinded... [Read More]

The Humbled Tsunami

Posted December 2, 2011

When the warning sirens went off, residents in a south Sendai neighborhood fled to the local school. Together with panicked children still in class they climbed to the rooftop. Some 600 altogether... [Read More]

Japanese Get "Bach" Hope

Posted September 21, 2011

Who would have thought Bach would be involved in 21st century mission work in Japan? I have frequently read with interest of the strong connection between classical music (particularly J.S. Bach) and Japanese interest... [Read More]

Tsunami Ground Zero

Posted April 7, 2011

I still haven't returned from tsunami ground zero. That is to say, although I've been back several days already, the reality of the scene is still with me. The incredible amounts of mud in once beautiful homes... [Read More]

"Nice Try, Kevin" File

Posted February 9, 2011

This one goes into the "Nice try, Kevin" file. I just thought it was a nice-looking bunch of flowers in the storefront and, on the spur of the moment, decided Kaori deserved to enjoy them. Chrysanthemums, however, are... [Read More]

The Gulliver Complex

Posted November 9, 2007

I'm a giant again. Well, not really. But it sure feels like it again since returning from the States. The first sign was bumping my head in the shuttle bus from the airport. By habit, I normally duck my head through any... [Read More]

Foreigners Don't Get the Point

Posted January 31, 2010

I'm standing in line at a drugstore with other shoppers. The woman in front of me has just pulled out a business card file. Hurriedly she flips through at least a hundred or more cards searching for the right one. It's a... [Read More]

More Powerful than Bombs

Posted July 5, 2008

Fuchida grew up loving his native Japan and hating the United States, which treated Asian immigrants harshly in the first half of the twentieth century. Fuchida attended a military academy, joined Japan's... [Read More]

Ready?

Posted September 14, 2010

I'd been putting it off. Although I knew it was important, taking inventory of our earthquake and disaster gear just wasn't getting done. Japan rests along the "ring of fire" in the Pacific ocean, a stretch of area that is... [Read More]

150 Years Later

Posted March 17, 2009

This spring marks the 150th anniversary of Protestant Christianity in Japan. The first protestant missionaries set foot in the port of Yokohama back in 1859. Now they were real church planters -- overcoming all... [Read More]

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I for Japan. Japan for the World. The World for Christ. And All for the Glory of God.

— Kanzo Uchimura, Japanese Evangelist

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Rambling Notes from Japan

Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.

Toward Clearer Vision

My physical vision has been nowhere near 20/20 recently. Increasingly blurry vision in my right eye sent me to the eye doctor frequently in Japan, and then to a specialist while in the States for a few weeks in February. Sitting in the office of the retina specialist, I prayed like Elijah: 'Oh Lord, open (my) eyes that (I) may see.' You've sent me to a land with many tiny complex letters. I need good vision to see them clearly and do my preparation. Clear up that little pocket of fluid on the back of my eyeball, please."

The good news is that my vision will return if I'm careful to take a little pill a couple times a day. If that fails, there's always a long needle or laser waiting (Think I'll try the pills first). How's your vision? Is it 2020?

We've laid out our 2020 Vision toward which we really need your partnership. We want to see God glorified in Japan through the establishment of new churches, and are working with all our might toward this vision in Kawasaki on your and Christ's behalf. Would you take a few minutes to look through the vision pamphlet below. Could you be a part of it with us? [CLICK TO READ]


Bridging the Gospel Gap

It’s Sunday and our rented room is filled again with people coming to hear a gospel singer. The hymn “Amazing Grace” is sung widely outside church in Japan. So today I recount the testimony of John Newton in my message. “What has God used in your life to get your attention, and make you aware of your need for grace in Christ?” I ask. “Even things like a missionary from Chicago with fumbling Japanese?”

Over the years of our Kawasaki church plant, this fumbling missionary (and very competent wife) have been able to share the gospel with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unbelievers in our outreach activities. Some are just looking. Some will return and connect with the church. Some will soon be interested in a a Christianity for Beginners study. Still others we will never see again. Yet, God ordained that now, in this place, their lives intersect with the gospel and ourselves. The gap of those 99% still needing Christ is bridged just a little bit more.

Still, I bemoan the missed opportunities because of the gaps. At Denen Grace Chapel, we have many more people open to spiritual things than time and manpower to respond to them. Gaps.

This situation is repeated across Japan. There are sprawling communities without a church witness. There are countless churches without pastors (nearly a third). There are hundreds of tiny churches struggling to make an impact in their neighborhoods. There are many elderly pastors (like 84-year-old Pastor N. at right) looking for a replacement before they can retire.

There is only a small number of Christian schools, counseling, media, camps, and social and compassion work (like Wheelchairs of Hope at left). Leadership gap. Ministry gap. Financial gap. Gap. Gap. Gap. At times I feel like Nehemiah inspecting the broken wall filled with gaps. Who will help fix it?

Coming from a country of abundant Christian resources (USA), this disparity of the gospel in Japan is troubling to me.

It compels me to share this appeal:

1) Japan remains a mission field where the disparity of the gospel, and the spiritual opportunity, is as great as ever.

2) Our great God has called upon us, his church, to bridge the gospel gap.

Might you also help bridge the gap in Japan? Thanks for your partnership!

Even with limited resources and difficult circumstances (including post- disaster areas like Fukushima & Kumamoto), our Japanese colleagues work tirelessly and passionately for the cause of Christ. Praise God for faithful workers in his harvest fields!


Lost

In his book "The Great Omission" (1984), Robert McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and president of Columbia International University for many years, gave an illustration that recently stirred my imagination and missional convictions again. I include it here in its entirely:

"In a dream I found myself on an island—Sheep Island. Across the island, sheep were scattered and lost. Soon I learned that a forest fire was sweeping across from the opposite side. All were doomed to destruction unless there were some way of escape. Although there were many unofficial maps, I had a copy of the official map, and there discovered that indeed there was a bridge to the mainland, a narrow bridge, built, it was said, at incredible cost.

My job, I was told, would be to get the sheep across that bridge. I discovered many shepherds herding the sheep which were found, and seeking to corral those which were within easy access to the bridge. But most of the sheep were far off and the shepherds seeking them few. The sheep near the fire knew they were in trouble and were frightened; those at a distance were peacefully grazing, enjoying life.

I noticed two shepherds near the bridge whispering to one another and laughing. I moved near them to hear the cause of joy in such a dismal setting. “Perhaps the chasm is narrow somewhere, and at least the strong sheep have opportunity to save themselves,” said one. “Maybe the current is gentle and the stream shallow. Then at least the courageous can make it across.” The other responded, “That may well be. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if this proves to be no island at all? Perhaps it is just a peninsula and great multitudes of sheep are already safe. Surely the owner would have provided some alternative route.” And so they relaxed, and went about other business.

In my mind, I began to ponder their theories: Why would the owner have gone to such great expense to build a bridge, especially since it is a narrow bridge, and many of the sheep refuse to cross it even when they find it? In fact, if there is a better way by which many will be saved more easily, building the bridge is a terrible blunder. And if this isn’t an island, after all, what is to keep the fire from sweeping across into the mainland and destroying everything? As I pondered these things, I heard a quiet voice behind me saying, “There is a better reason than the logic of it, my friend. Logic alone could lead you either way. Look at your map.”

There on the map, by the bridge, I saw quotation from the first undershepherd, Peter: “For neither is there salva- tion in any other, for there is no other way from the island to the mainland whereby a sheep may be saved.” And then I discerned, carved on the old rugged bridge itself, “I am the bridge. No sheep escapes to safety but by me.”

In a world in which nine of every ten people are lost, three of four have never heard the way out, and one of every two cannot hear, the Church sleeps on. “Why?” Could it be we think there must be some other way? Or perhaps we don’t really care that much.

When all has been said that can be said on this issue [those who have not heard the gospel], the greatest remaining mystery is not the character of God, nor the destiny of lost people. The greatest mystery is why those who are charged with rescuing the lost have spent two thousand years doing other things—good things, perhaps—but have failed to send and be sent, until all have heard the liberating word of life in Christ Jesus. The lost condition of human beings breaks the Father’s heart. What does it do to ours?"


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We serve with WorldVenture, an evangelical faith mission. Our sending/home church is First Baptist Church of Lansing, Illinois.
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