In October, last year we were expecting our first baby, a boy. We were excited for weeks before the due date, but more or less waited patiently for this new addition to our family. We knew that there was no guarantee he would come on the due date, but still it was hard when that date passed and nothing had happened. Every day after the due date became harder for me and Kaori, my wife.
We prayed every day that our boy will come that day, but God didn’t seem to care. Often, we walked around the block in the evening in the hope that the baby will move down and come soon. During this time we received many messages and questions like “Is he born?” This was annoying at times. We understood that our supporters and friends were also looking forward to meeting him and they were praying as well, but still we were tired of the questions. The Sunday after her due date Kaori didn’t want to go to church with me because of all the questions and comments about her “still” big belly.
One day before Timo’s arrival we went for another check at the clinic. The doctor talked to us about when we wanted to induce labor. It was another shock for Kaori. We thank God that we didn’t have do that, and that Timo came naturally the next day.
During this waiting time I read John chapter 3. Verse 3 stayed in my mind: “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again’” (NIV).
Often, we try to predict a time when someone should be born as Christian. We pray and walk with him or her. We share our concerns with our prayer partners. But actually, we can’t make it happen. We can certainly do some things, but the friend needs to come to a decision on his or her own. In this way, it is like a physical birth—mostly we should wait. As much as we would like to know how long a Japanese person will take to become a Christian, there is no average, no date.
Waiting can be stressful. We might think everything is ready, we have told our friend all they need to understand—who Jesus is and what he did. We have prayed to God that our friend will come to faith soon. Our prayer supporters will also ask us how the friend is doing, if he or she is Christian yet.
In most cases, there are many more helpers—people who walk, talk, and share Christ with a person before they come to faith. But only some will help with the birth (coming to faith) of a person.
I want to keep this in mind for my future ministry: that I can’t plan the time when someone should become a Christian, but I can wait and trust the Lord. And I can be ready for when it happens. Because after the birth it’s not finished—the new life starts and with it our job as spiritual parents.
By Simon, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- For patience for missionaries as we wait for people to become Christians.
- For our prayer partners, that they wouldn’t give up praying.
- For Japanese after they become Christians: that they will be discipled well within the church.