Ministry

  • 13 Jun
    Christian community is vital for Japanese returnees

    Christian community is vital for Japanese returnees

    Though from a non-Christian family, Akiko went to a Christian school in Japan where she’d heard some Bible stories. She came to our home for one Bible study where she asked a lot of questions, and seemed interested in knowing more, but was nowhere near becoming a Christian. Soon after she went to study overseas and I connected her with Christians—within six months she’d decided to follow Jesus and was baptised.

    Machiko also went to a Christian school in Japan, and heard many Bible stories. For the last four years she has been coming to our Bible studies in Tokyo two to three times a month. She now understands the gospel well, and said recently that if she lived alone on a mountain, she might well become a Christian. She’s attracted to Jesus, but feels she can’t commit to following him—at least, not yet.

    These stories are fairly typical. Japanese people living overseas often become Christians relatively quickly, but Japanese in Japan generally take much longer to decide to follow Christ. Why is this?

    There are many factors involved, but a Japanese friend once told me “Japanese people like to make choices that feel natural.” It seems this might be part of the answer. In Japan—where the Christian population is a tiny minority, and there is a cultural overlay of Buddhism and Shintoism—to become a Christian feels unnatural and uncomfortable. For a Japanese person, the reality of making a choice like this in the context of Japan is scary and can seem plain wrong. But for a Japanese person surrounded by many Christian friends in a country with a Christian heritage, it feels much more natural to decide to follow Christ. 

    As Ichiro, a returnee seeker, said to me recently “When I was overseas I had many Christian friends and I began to think it would be nice to become a Christian and join their loving community. But since coming back to Japan I feel like there’s no reason to become a Christian.”

    What returnee seekers like Ichiro need are Christian friends. Of course they also need prayer that the Holy Spirit will give them true faith that can overcome the desire to only do things that feel natural. But Christian friends, especially missionaries or returnees who understand what it’s like to live overseas, will help the process tremendously. Friends who will reach out to them with genuine love and connect them to a Christian community in Japan which they can become a part of.

    The Christian community here may be much more of a minority than in other countries, but the love of Christ is no less real and, in time, returnees can find a spiritual home in Japan. But they need Christian friends who will walk with them as they continue on their journey towards faith.

    Returnees who come back as Christians, like Akiko when she returns later this year, also need loving Christian friends to support them as they adjust to living as a Christian in Japan.

    Names changed for privacy.

     By Liz, an OMF missionary

     

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray for Japanese people who have encountered Christ overseas, that they will find good Christian friends when they return to Japan.
    • Pray for returnees who have found a Christian community in Japan, that they will be active in reaching out to others who are struggling.
    • Pray for wisdom for missionaries in Japan in helping those who come back to find community.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

  • 11 Jun
    The Doctor’s Temple

    The Doctor’s Temple

    In Taiwan, there are numerous temples and all kinds of gods. Each god has a specific purpose and power. As new missionaries with OMF in Taiwan, we recently visited a temple that is dedicated to health and Baosheng Dadi, a medicine god. This god was a doctor during China’s Song dynasty. I call this temple “the doctor’s temple.”

    In front of most temples in Taiwan is a large gate, which symbolizes the entrance to a spiritual realm.

    Outside of this temple, there is a hotel for those visiting from out-of-town. In front of the temple is an oven to burn money for deceased relatives and a large table to leave offerings on, fruit or other food.

    Like other temples, this one has three doors. People enter through the door on the right (known as the dragon door) and leave through the door on the left (the tiger door). The central door is reserved for the god’s use.

    Inside, Taiwanese troubled by sickness seek help and/or advice from Baosheng Dadi. In early days, the temple staff even wrote prescriptions. But today there are laws that forbid this. So, Taiwanese ask the god for advice on which hospital to go to for doctor appointments and surgery. Many people also ask Baosheng Dadi for healing.

    People often donate money to the temple in an effort to obtain the god’s favour. This is regarded as a simple trade. If I give you this money, you’ll give me what I ask for.

    As new missionaries, we are new to Taiwanese culture as well as to Taiwan’s languages. We want to deeply understand the worldviews and beliefs of the people we live among. Visiting temples like this one is a good way to learn about Taiwanese perspectives on religion.

    – Chris, Culture & Language Learner

    (Taichung, Taiwan)

  • 06 Jun
    Keeping the faith: from English to heart language

    Keeping the faith: from English to heart language

    About 25 years ago we were attending a conference in the US when a tremendous thunderstorm hit and everyone scrambled to get inside. It was only a couple of years after we’d come back to the States after serving for ten years in Japan. We unexpectedly found ourselves in conversation with a Japanese student who had been impacted deeply by her experiences with Christians at her university and through attending church services. She had accepted Jesus as her Savior.

    My husband and I shared from our Japanese Bible and prayed with her in Japanese. That troubled her. It was her first encounter with anything “Christian” in her heart language. She found it disturbing to hear the words “Jesus” and “God” in Japanese and to her the Japanese Bible seemed difficult to understand.

    It was our first encounter with a Japanese person who’d become a Christian overseas. We were shocked.

    After we’d spent about two hours with her we gave her our Japanese Bible and left with heavy hearts. We prayed that her faith in Jesus would remain the strength of her life.

    We still wonder what happened to her when she returned to Japan. Did she find a place in a local church? Was she able to believe in Jesus in the depths of her heart where only Japanese truly communicates? Or did she drift away because she couldn’t find her place in a Japanese church that knew how to welcome someone like her?

    This was, and is a common story. When they are away from their home culture and its pressures many Japanese are open to learn about Jesus and explore Christianity. But even those who take steps of faith in English or another language often struggle to connect with Christians, the church, and even the Bible in their heart language and culture. Many people who make commitments to the Lord while overseas do not follow through when they return home (some say it’s eight in ten people or higher).

    The key to making a good transition is discipleship. Ultimately, growing deep in Christ requires talking with him and hearing from him in our heart language.

    Ways we can help

    We were also in Denver, Colorado (US), when the Japanese Christian Fellowship Network was conceived and developed in the 1990s. That development has led to a solid ministry of mentoring, counseling, and discipling Japanese students in the US and Canada. I especially love to hear about their Equipper Conferences. At these Japanese-language gatherings, students are discipled and prepared to return to Japan. What a great way to help new believers and connect them with the Christian community in Japan when they return!

    In the same time frame, from the mid-1990s, the internet developed and has become a tool to help returnees. There are now myriad creative ways to help the diaspora returnees to connect with the good news in their own language, to find resources to help them when they return, and to know where there are churches and other Christian activities. These resources are available to everyone, everywhere, including those who are connecting with diaspora returnees.

    So, let’s not lose heart. I have seen so many amazing, creative, helpful things happen in the past 25 years to encourage Japanese diaspora returnees to move back into their home situations equipped, strengthened, and connected with healthy Christian communities.

    I also know that many have disappeared from our view. But, each one is known to Jesus and he is with them. Let’s continue to reach out to students and other diaspora returnees with confidence in the love of Jesus for them.

    By Beth, OMF missionary

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray for Japanese people who have become Christians overseas, that they will be able to link into the Christian community soon after they return to Japan.
    • Pray for those who are part of a new Japanese Christian’s life overseas, that they will seek ways to prepare their friend for return to life in Japan.
    • Pray for churches and Christians in Japan, that they will utilize the many resources available to them to help returnees in their area.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

  • 04 Jun
    A real Chinese New Year in Taiwan!

    A real Chinese New Year in Taiwan!

    Arriving

    My Taiwanese friend kindly invited me to her mother’s family’s home for the second day of the new lunar year. This is a day when women traditionally visit their family.

    The major event is a meal celebrating the new year. On reaching the house, I realised this wasn’t going to be an inside meal when I saw a large tarpaulin being set up outside by several men of the family.

    As is the custom, I brought a gift. I found some nice nuts at a new year’s market. My friend mentioned that in previous years it had taken her mother a day or two to prepare the meal and she came early to assist her. But this year because of the crowd, she had the meal catered. There were around fifty people there.

    Shows a new worker playing monopoly with a friend's family during Chinese New Year

    Games

    At first, we sat in the living room, where we played a Taiwanese version of Monopoly. The family tried to include me. They had to do a lot of explaining. While we were doing this, my friend’s son walked around with a lucky draw cardboard box with compartments laid in a grid. My friend’s son collected money from family members, who were then allowed to poke a hole into a compartment and take out a candy. One aunt had to try twice when her first attempt uncovered a note saying, “Jiayou!” (Keep trying!)

    It was a hot day. But once the food arrived, the pavilion tents provided some shelter. We started eating around midday and the meal lasted an hour and a half. It ended with ice cream. There were many dishes, including hot pot, fish, meat, and vegetables. My friend’s mother walked around the tables toasting everyone with the customary, “Gan bei!” and ensuring everyone was enjoying the meal. There was no danger of anyone going home hungry!

    After the meal, some of the elderly played various games. One was called “Four Colours.” Another was a game with dice. There were several attempts to explaining the game to me, but I never did understand the rules. My friend told me this is a common activity at Chinese New Year. Someone else mentioned it’s a way of determining if the year ahead will be lucky or not.

    Chinese New Year banquet in Taiwan

    Family

    Everyone was warm and welcoming! As a family, they usually speak Taiwanese. But they tried to remember to speak Mandarin, so I could understand some of the conversations. Several people asked whether I was comfortable and checked to ensure I enjoyed the food. I was also asked why I had come to Taiwan.

    Many of the family members live fairly close to my friend’s mother’s house. At the end of the day, several people simply walked home or had a short drive.

    The Chinese New Year celebration in Taiwan has some resemblances to Christmas festivities in the UK – the family gatherings, the large meals, and the activities and customs unique to this time of year. It was pleasant to witness family members catch up with each other. There was an exchange of news and a lot of chatting. It was a pleasure to be a part of this celebration. I am grateful for the invitation to spend such an important day with my friend’s extended family!

     

    – Sarah, Language and Culture Learner

    (Taichung, Taiwan)

  • 04 Jun
    Miss Liu – What it’s like to teach missionaries

    Miss Liu – What it’s like to teach missionaries

    What it's like to teach missionaries

    I have been working as a language teacher for nearly twenty years in Taiwan. I love my job and I’m much obliged to all the language students of mine, especially the dear missionaries from OMF.

    The OMF missionaries spend the beginning of their time in Taiwan learning the languages. How blessed I am to meet them when they first come here! I may have taught those missionaries some language skills. But I have also learned a lot about God and His love from them, which is very important and precious to me.

    Through my time teaching them, I’ve gotten more experienced in teaching Mandarin and Taiwanese, and I’ve become more patient and calmer. I have much more self-confidence as a language teacher than I did when I first started. These are some of the great benefits to my job!

    The best part is that I can ask the OMF missionaries questions about Christianity and the Bible. Their answers always inspire me to get closer to God and help me grow in my faith. I’m grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful job! May God bless us all!

  • 01 Jun
    From Chicago to Manila: Crossing Cultures in Youth Ministry

    From Chicago to Manila: Crossing Cultures in Youth Ministry

    For International Children’s Day on 1 June, we hear from Rebecca Williamson about her experience working with kids in Manila and inner-city Chicago.

     

    Kids in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and Chicago are surprisingly similar, Rebecca Williamson tells me.

    And she should know.

    Before going to the Philippines through OMF’s Serve Asia (short-term mission) programme Rebecca volunteered with a non-profit serving inner-city kids. And in the Philippines, she worked with OMF’s urban poor team doing sports outreach events on the streets as well as teaching at Faith Academy International Christian School, which offers education from Kindergarten to 12th grade for missionary, national and international students.

    Rebecca teaching at Faith Academy

    Rebecca teaching at Faith Academy

    Sports: A Great Connection Point

    The spark for spending 10 months in the Philippines was a two-week mission trip to Manila with Moody Bible Institute. There Rebecca got to know the OMF missionaries and says: ‘I was intrigued by the missionaries and the work they were doing there and, in some ways, it was really similar to work I had done in Chicago with inner-city youth. In both places sports is such a great connection point. So, I really understood the kind of strategy that they were after.’

    Re-joining the team a couple of months later, Rebecca joined in the street outreaches, visiting a different district each day of the week. Some kids were interested in the Bible stories and the coloured bracelets that explain the gospel story. Others just enjoyed the games. But it’s the same in Chicago, Rebecca says. There are open hearts in both places.

    Exploring Faith

    Rebecca shares eagerly about some of the kids she met. For instance, 15-year-old Nicole* was ‘so impressive’ in the Bible studies hosted on the floor of Nicole’s house each Tuesday afternoon. Nicole asked ‘amazing questions’ and was ‘so curious about the things of God’. Then there was the teenaged guy, looked up to by his posse of friends, at one of the street outreaches. It turned out he was a Christian, a rare person to meet in these outreaches, Rebecca tells me. She says, ‘It’s really cool to think about the potential that’s there, this teenager who’s really funny and animated, leading these other boys and claiming to follow Jesus.’ What could he go on to do for Jesus?

    Home Life Matters

    As well as the spiritually open in the Philippines and America, Rebecca explains how the home life of teens in both countries plays out in their behaviour. She mentions one teenager she taught at Faith Academy who had problems behaving in class. Rebecca says she struggled to understand why he was like this until she got to understand more of his situation at home. She says: ‘It’s the same here [in Chicago]. Maybe it’s just the make-up of a teenage mind! But when there’s brokenness in the home, it plays out in behaviour. Knowing that from the States helped in the Philippines.’

    Rebecca continues: ‘I think in some ways my experience with youth in America prepared me for some of those things in the Philippines, in both contexts of the urban ministry on the streets and at Faith Academy. So it’s cool to see how even God was working in things that I’d experienced in the States.’

    Knowing the God of the Poor

    Rebecca also shares about some of the life-limiting poverty she has seen, not only in the Philippines, but also through her work in inner-city Chicago. She reflects on the impact of poverty in both places but says it’s more severe in the Philippines. She shares the story of John Carlo’s* family, who she met in Quezon City. To get to John Carlo’s tiny house you have to step over the sewer. Inside, John Carlo, one of six kids, is sadly bedridden, unable to speak and looks ‘like a skeleton with skin on’. Not only that, with better medical care, his condition could have been prevented. Now John Carlo’s condition affects the whole family.

    ‘It is very heart-breaking to see’, Rebecca reflects, ‘but I really do believe he can understand and knows what’s going on. When we would walk into the room, when one of the guys on the team would blow the whistle for a game or we would sing a song about Jesus, his face would light up.’

    She adds that when we look at John Carlo’s situation from simply a human point of view, we’re missing something important. The name of the neighbourhood in Tagalog is ‘Pag-asa’, which means ‘hope’. Rebecca was ‘so amazed’ when she learned its name and that, in Jesus, there is hope, even for such heart-breaking situations.

    Rebecca says it was discouraging knowing there are many children like John Carlo in Manila, ‘but I found a lot of comfort knowing that the poor are very close to God’s heart and through this experience, I was able to put a picture to the stories in the Bible when God talks about the poor. I see it in a different way now. And I’m very thankful for that. I know that God really cares about John Carlo and his family.’

    Following Jesus, Showing Compassion

    In both the US and in the Philippines, Rebecca says she has been inspired by the example of Jesus, who never turned away those who are hurting and broken. She says: ‘I think about Jesus a lot in those situations [in the States] when it’s hard and maybe somebody smells or a child’s behaviour is a little bit crazy. But then you start to learn a bit more about what’s going on at home and my heart starts to break a bit more. I’m able to have more compassion for them, instead of just, ‘would you just listen and do what I said?’

    Rebecca says she has discovered this kind of compassion even more working in the Philippines. God’s compassion for the poor and his invitation to life in all of its fullness is needed by kids all around the world. Rebecca’s story shows that. Will you pray for children today?

    *Names changed to protect identities

    By Reuben Grace
    OMF International

    Will you pray for East Asia’s Children?

    Pray for:
    • More people, inspired by Jesus’ example, to move toward the hurting and broken in love. There is great need and great opportunity.
    • Manila – This massive urban area is one of the most densely populated in the world. With so many people, there are a lot of families like John Carlo’s. Pray for Christians to meet needs with practical acts of service and point to the love and hope found in Christ.
    • Christians and churches serving kids in the Philippines – for strength and renewed compassion when facing such great needs.
    • More kids like Nicole with open hearts to accept the transforming love of Jesus.

    Learn

    Information on Serve Asia, OMF’s short-term mission discipleship programme.

    Pray

    Resources and information to help you pray for the global missions movement.

    Go

    Search for mission trip opportunities in East Asia and apply online.

  • 23 May
    Partnering in training in Japan

    Partnering in training in Japan

    Last July, for two days, nine people gathered at OMF’s headquarters in Japan. Five were OMF staff (Japanese people who work in our offices in support) and three were KGK staff workers, the IFES student ministry in Japan. I was the only foreigner and the facilitator of a joint-training course called “Together in Mission”.

    There has been close ties between these organizations for years, but rarely have we spent two whole days together. How had it happened?

    The genesis of this joint-training course was three years earlier when a KGK staff worker and OMF member were chatting about the difficulties of partnership development in KGK.

    The OMF worker responded, “OMF has some materials on that kind of thing.”

    Together in Mission is a course for national staff on the sending sides of OMF. It helps them see how their role fits into the bigger picture of OMF and also God’s mission to the world. In addition it gives ideas and tools on how to communicate all this and deepen relationships. This would be great for OMF Japan staff and the closest thing to what KGK seemed to want and need. But the question lingered—would it be worth doing?

    Preparing the course

    After a number of conversations, emails, and my own home assignment, I finally got down to preparing the actual material.

    It was hard to produce a draft Japanese translation of the course material. There were words and concepts that had to be explained—things I had never thought about in Japanese like advocacy and mobilization. Also the training method was unusual for Japanese people—not the regular ”an expert gives a presentation” more ”let’s learn from each other”.

    Doing the course

    When we finally gathered it was intense, exciting, and exhausting (especially for me).

    We read Scripture and thought about how it applies to Japan. We talked about our part in building God’s Kingdom and looked at models for developing partnerships. We evaluated the relationships that we already have with churches and individuals, and considered how to deepen them.

    Was it worth it?

    Afterwards, one said, “There were lots of ideas in this course that would help; they would not be too hard to do and may have a great effect.” Another: ”This course has helped me think about how we can increase the number of KGK supporters.” Yet another said, ”The course has made me think more widely than just money.” Other feedback emphasised the importance of keeping a kingdom perspective and the need for real partnerships.

    Months after the course, one of the KGK participants wrote to me: “From now on, I think what was learned at the Together in Mission course will be applied in the KGK new workers course training . . . We feel like we have been helped a lot.”

    It paid off. The training really helped OMF Japan staff see the vital significance of their jobs. It would help KGK staff workers build kingdom-based relationships with supporters. Partnering in training is win-win-win. Resources are shared and it shows that we really are together in God’s mission to Japan.

    By Peter, an OMF missionary

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray that OMF and KGK will continue to find ways to partner together.
    • Pray that OMF will be able to use its many resources to benefit other groups.
    • Pray that OMF’s staff in our offices will be encouraged that what they do each day is part of the big picture for reaching Japan for God.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

  • 23 May
    Extending our reach in Japan through partnerships

    Extending our reach in Japan through partnerships

    How are we ever going to reach the many in Japan who have never heard the good news of Jesus? OMF is working to reach them through student ministries, children’s ministries, working in local churches, and reaching out to and mobilizing those who return from overseas. Dance, sports, and homeless ministries, are other creative methods we’re using.

    One of OMF Japan’s core values is working with others. Why? Because we know we can’t do it on our own. We partner with other like-minded Christian groups and organizations to reach the nation of Japan with the gospel.

    One way that we’re partnering with others is by seeking out like-minded foreigners who have moved to Japan for various reasons such as business. We call them “OMF Friends.” One such person is See Huang and his wife Elena, from Malaysia. We asked him about his experience with OMF Japan:

    “Our arrival in Japan in 2016 was stressful. I started work as an English teacher in the church, while Elena worked as a freelance writer and editor to help support me. The cultural adjustment was harsh and we had no support network. Frustrated, I asked my church elder in Malaysia if he knew of anyone in Japan. He sent the email address of Richard, an OMF missionary. Richard connected me to Armin, and Armin invited me to an OMF Friends meeting.

    We went along and met other tentmakers—most were foreigners like us. They helped me see I wasn’t the only one who had problems adjusting to Japan. My wife and I soon signed up to become official OMF Friends.

    Connecting with OMF also enabled us to cross-pollinate our respective ministries. A few times, we partnered up with Levi and Alex, two OMF missionaries, helping them organize a board games gathering. We also collaborated with Susan, who gave her testimony at an event at our church.

    If God had not put us in touch with OMF, we would probably have left Japan after the first year. Praise God for the connection and partnership!”

    OMF partners with people from all across the world like you! Come join our team, as we live and minister in partnership to spread the good news of Jesus throughout Japan. Or come and work in Japan and join us as official Friends.

    By Tim, an OMF missionary

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray that more people will join our OMF team: as long-term and mid-termers.
    • Pray for more people working here to link up with us as OMF Friends.
    • Pray that OMF remains true to the core value of working with others, and that God brings about good partnerships.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

  • 09 May
    Partnering with a Japanese church as a short-term worker

    Partnering with a Japanese church as a short-term worker

    I came to Yonezawa, Yamagata a year ago not knowing what to expect. All I knew was that I would be located there to help serve a partnering church for the one year. But I did know that God wanted me to be there and that I was to obey. What I got was a life-changing experience that confirmed my love for the Japanese people and the ministry with them.

    My mission supervisor informed me that OMF had not previously worked in the north-western prefecture of Yamagata. This would be their first partnership with Keisen Christ Church (KCC) and I would be there to serve under the church’s ministry. My primary role was to tutor English at their Christian school, to have conversation practice with college students and adults, and lead an English event at a nearby town in hopes of creating another cell group.

    But, God placed a holy and exciting burden in my heart to do more. Partnering with KCC, I opened another English conversation time at two locations: the local library where many people go to study and meet and at a local cafe where I had befriended the owners.

    Through these classes and meetings, I met scores of people who were mostly non-believers. It was through these encounters that I witnessed how valuable relationships are. Openness, eagerness, trust, and consistency were crucial in opening a door to present the gospel. There were even a few rare interactions when I was able to share God’s precious truths. There is a need and I found that creating a learning-English environment was a great bridge to make those heartfelt connections.

    The people of KCC were not only beyond hospitable and welcoming but also supportive of the work I did there. My relationship with the pastor has also unearthed a new found appreciation of shepherding and exchanges built on love, trust, and bridging between our cultures. My adjustment to culture, language, and living can largely be attributed to their compassion and love for Christ’s teachings.

    In all, the workload was large, but the relationships have been enriching. I learned that God’s timing is perfect and that by trusting in him I can already rejoice in being part of the greater work.

    I hope and pray that those who read this may also have a desire to serve in ministry in Japan. There are people who are eager to learn the language and even more who are willing to find something more.

    It is with faith that I accomplished so much and created life-long relationships. And it is with faith that I look forward to seeing how God will expand on the work that has been done here.

    By David, an OMF Serve Asia worker

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • .

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

  • 02 May
    Running a cafe in Japan: partnership in mission

    Running a cafe in Japan: partnership in mission

    About a year ago, out of the blue I received a phone call. Mark, a Sapporo-based missionary from a different organization, was asking for a meeting. I wasn’t excited about it, because I already had my plate full of things to do, but somehow it sparked my interest. So, I agreed to meet him and sometime later, went to his place of ministry. I was blown away!

    About ten years ago, he had started an English school and opened a café for people to come in and chat. He also had a small church plant up and running with really committed churchgoers. And all that in a superb location—next to a walkway between a subway station and a university where thousands of students pass each day. What a gem, I immediately thought, if only OMF could have something like that, there would be tons of opportunities to reach people for the gospel.

    So why did Mark want to meet with me? Because he needed a successor. He was only a year away from retirement. To that point, his search for someone to take over the ministry and lead the team had been in vain. Could OMF step in?

    When I left him that day, I felt a whole range of emotions. On the one hand, I recognized this ministry’s immense potential for outreach. On the other hand, I knew that OMF was already committed to several other church plants and it would not be easy to find and train good leaders. Nevertheless, this ministry and the quest for a successor became heavy on my heart and I started praying about it, talking with people about it, and spreading the word around. However, no solution came to light. Again and again I had to tell Mark that OMF couldn’t continue that ministry.

    When the final deadline passed, Mark had to announce to his team that they would shut down the ministry in a couple of months.

    Frustrated that OMF could not step in and come alongside this other mission organization, I mentioned in passing to a senior missionary, “Keep praying about Mark’s need for a successor.”

    Much to my surprise, she replied, “I think I need to go talk to Mark.”

    Jokingly I said, “Yeah, we could designate you and your husband to run it.”

    “No way!” she said.

    Yet she met with Mark, then she approached her husband.

    “I don’t think that would be possible, but let me pray about it,” he said.

    However, God was on the move, gradually confirming his leading. A couple of weeks later, this couple, themselves only a few years away from retirement, called to tell me that God was leading them to take over this ministry.

    During the handover ceremony on 31 March, we not only celebrated God’s goodness throughout the many years of this ministry, but also the continuation of the team. The ministry is now led by OMF missionaries and includes a missionary from a different organisation and a Japanese Christian as staff. In this partnership, we long to see God glorified!

    The tagline of the ministry was, and still is, “life changing connections.” Indeed, it has not only changed the lives of many, many visitors to the place, but also the life of senior missionaries. Yet, in the end, it is not we, who make these changes, but God.

    Would you pray with us that more people get to know God through this ministry? And also ask the Lord if he is leading you to become part of this ministry, or OMF Japan’s wider ministry!

    By Samuel, an OMF missionary

    Will you pray for Japan?

    • Pray for this ministry, that more people would get to know God through it.
    • Pray that God would provide other ministry partnerships that OMF can be a part of.

    Pray

    Download resources to help you pray for Japan.

    Learn

    Learn more about OMF Japan.

    Go

    Find out about serving with OMF Japan.

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