Weakness as an opportunity

Do you feel as though you couldn’t be a full-time missionary because you don’t have great talents that could make you appealing to those you might try to reach? I used to worry about that myself, but God, in his grace, is showing me that he can use almost anything as opportunity to share the gospel.

As a family, we’ve served in Japan for nearly ten years, and we now run a small church plant in the countryside. Let me tell you about some of our mistakes. A couple of years ago a neighbour brought round some garlic (“ninniku”), and I complimented her on her delicious muscles (“kinniku”). The words are very similar, in my defence. I’ve asked the children on a Sunday morning to find the cheese (“chiizu”) on the wall instead of the map (“chizu”).

Sometimes I’ve posed a question in a Bible study and been met with a long silence. It makes me want to ask the group, “Are you engaged in deep prayer, has this intellectually challenged you, or do you simply not have the faintest idea what I was trying to ask?”

On a good day, we laugh at all of this, but on a bad day, it’s tough and I wish I was back in the UK where at least I can speak properly. Praise God, he’s helped us to learn a lot about language and culture. But none of that is important compared to God’s kingdom, and He has used all of our weakness for his glory.

The messages I give at church on a Sunday morning are forced to be simple—I don’t have the vocabulary for anything else. There have been many opportunities to laugh with people as they help us in the middle of our mistakes and through this relationships have grown closer. In a country where being the sensei (teacher) is a revered position, I have a good opportunity to demonstrate that I need God’s help as much as anybody else. Walking around clueless leads to lots of people offering to help, and these can lead to great opportunities to share the gospel.

Of course it’s good to improve in language and understanding of culture, and we are blessed to be able to do that. But if you feel weak today, will you remember that this may be just the position God wants you in to use you? Could he use your weakness for his glory in a place like Japan?

By Mark, an OMF Missionary

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