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.

Singing a Sojourner's Song

There's that feeling again. Being a missionary brings it around just a little more frequently. It's the sense of discomfort, the awareness of incongruities in my fit with my surroundings. It's a feeling of not belonging. Not being completely home. It comes every time I travel back to the States or back to Japan. Returning just recently from 5 weeks in Chicagoland, the realization that I am indeed a foreigner in either culture is once again fresh.

Buddy Greene said it best in song: "I don't belong. I'm a foreigner here just singing a sojourner's song. I've always known. This place ain't home. And I don't belong."

It didn't used to be that way. Up until we left for Japan in 1999, I was decidedly American in my outlook, cultural identity and sensibilities. But things change when you remove yourself from that cultural milieu for any long stretch of time. Things no longer look the same when you return to them. You're different. People are different. The environment and culture are different. And you sense a lack of fit with a people and places you really were eager to call home again. That's disappointing, surprising and frustrating all at once.
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Two Years Later -- Hope in Christ Alone

Two years after Japan's darkest day since the end of WWII, the memory of 311's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis is still the somber backdrop for most conversations. Twenty thousand dead or missing in a moment of time. The disaster was so big it echoed to the edge of space. The loss was so much bigger that it echoes in the human heart in every dream and hope, challenge and concern. And there are many of them. Today new worries abound.

What about the next big quake? Don't tell my mother this, but the respected Tokyo University Earthquake Research Institute reported there's a 70% chance that a 7.0-magnitude or higher quake will strike Japan's capital by 2016. Such an event, the scientists said, could mean a death toll of up to 11,000 people and $1 trillion in damages!
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New Year House Shopping

I'll never forget that sensible question. It was uttered by a little boy wandering about in the same aisle as me in our local home center around new year's day. His mom was right there next to him, keeping him busy while his father, no doubt, was checking out the power tool sales. The boy took inventory of everything about him, touching and monkeying with whatever was within his reach. Then he abruptly stopped, looked curiously at an item up high, pointed, and asked mom, "What's that?" He'd probably never seen a housing for a deity that Japanese typically use to decorate a kamidana, or god shelf, in their homes. This particular one was on sale.

His mom followed his finger to the do-it-yourself kit (roughly the size of a loaf of bread), and said, "Oh. Well, that's a house for god." The boy's response was priceless. He wrinkled up his face quizzically and said, "A house for god? Why would god need a house? That's dumb." From the mouths of babes! His mom was completely nonplussed. She darted a sheepish glance at me before scurrying the boy along.

Why limit the divine to a tiny decoration? How have we limited God in convoluted ways within our own faith? Perhaps not in the way of a do-it-yourself kit, but to greater degrees than we recognize and admit. A missionary colleague here in Japan wrote a piece on this subject and the Japanese New Year traditions. The original article is here. I have included it below. Enjoy, think and pray!
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And Heaven and Nature Sing!

The gospel music boom in Japan just keeps on growing and growing. We've tried to redeem this cultural phenomenon for outreach. This past week, 300 hundred filled the stage of Aoyama University near us for a Christmas Gospel Concert. Twelve of our choir members are in this massive group, 98% of whom are not Christian.Many interested in singing gospel music come to understand Christianity through our
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Now is the Time

LET (JAPAN) RECEIVE HER KING!"How are things going in Japan since 311?" Glad you asked. While the physical recovery is still a long way off, the spiritual harvest is here now. A missionary colleague put this video together of interviews from our church association pastors in the north. As you can see, the kingdom of God grows VERY slowly in Japan. In fact, the Christian population here
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Joy to the World

It was right there on our mall store window. For most Japanese passers by, it was meaningless decorative lettering. But in a world where the sacred and secular rarely meet, the presence of these words spun me in my steps. What's more, this is Japan! You won't find talk or sight of the Lord Jesus ANYWHERE at Christmas time. My unofficial poll numbers show a 99% ignorance level concerning Christmas day.
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Shipwrecked

"I see the world as a shipwreck. God has given me a lifeboat and said, "Save all you can." D.L. Moody

There once was a dangerous seacoast where many sailing ships were wrecked and many lives were lost. Volunteers from a nearby fishing village again and again braved the storm and rescued many from drowning, and those who were saved often joined the rescue team.

One day a volunteer suggested that with practice they could do an even better job. So in summer the rescue crews practiced rowing and throwing life preservers and were later able to save more lives. Another volunteer thought they should build a boat house near the coast to keep the rescue boats. That way they would not waste time bringing their boats from the village. After a time, a third volunteer suggested that they build a shelter for the people they rescued, for they often died of the cold. And another recommended adding a kitchen to make soup to warm the storm victims. All these innovations added to the effectiveness of their work.

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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.

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