Before we came to Japan, my wife Janet volunteered with an English conversation class for the wives of Japanese businessmen. This class was run by a large church near our home in an area in the UK that had many Japanese people.
One day in March, Janet came home and told me of a lady who’d been in the class. Through tears this lady said, “This is the last time I’ll be at this class; my husband is being transferred back to Japan. I have just three weeks to pack up everything and arrange things in Japan. I won’t be coming again.”
She did not want to go back to Japan. Japanese people who settle for a few years overseas often find a joy in being free from the pressures of life that are common in Japan. This lady’s children had settled in a UK school and she knew it would be difficult to return to Japan.
Not only was it beneficial for Janet to work with Japanese people before we left to serve in Japan, seeing the concerns of this lady helped prepare us to move to Japan ourselves.
A few years later we went back to the same area in the UK—after serving in Japan for four years—for our first home assignment. Our friends were still at the large church so we linked up again with the Japanese work at the church. Now there also was a Japanese service.
We met the pastor of this church and he invited me to preach, in Japanese. Because I’d preached in Japan, I could use a sermon I’d used before, but it still was hard work. Twenty or so met in one small room of the large church. Though it was a small group, I was thankful when my sermon went well.
We were encouraged that the work and study that we’d done in Japan helped us serve a local church when we returned to the UK.
Are you thinking about serving in mission? Getting involved in a local ministry with international people will help prepare you for future service. Even if you aren’t sensing the Lord’s call to mission work overseas, you can serve him right where you are. We’re seeing levels of migration and international travel at rates never seen before, chances are, you’ve got people in your neighbourhood who weren’t born in your country.
By Peter, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for Japanese people overseas, that they will hear the gospel and believe.
- Pray for churches across the world, that they will reach out to international people in their local area.
- Pray for people thinking about serving as missionaries in Japan, that they would have opportunities to meet Japanese people outside of Japan.