News & Stories


Delayed in the US by Covid

In October 2021 we told you about Chris and Emily, new missionaries with OMF Japan. At the time Japan was not allowing new visa holders into the country due to Covid, so Chris, Emily, and their two boys were still in the US. We’ve followed up with them this month to see where they are now.

Praise the Lord, we finally arrived in Japan on March 21, 2022 fourteen months after our initial planned departure. That delay included seven plane ticket reservations, three visa application attempts, countless Covid tests, and, two weeks before departure, a Covid-scare.

After so many complications, we still didn’t feel like we were actually going to Japan even when the plane took off. Yet, after fourteen hours of plane travel and three hours of Covid testing at the airport in Tokyo we found ourselves finally setting foot in Japan.

During those first days, everything felt surreal and disorienting. Without much Japanese, we struggled with basic communication in many daily activities like grocery shopping, setting up utilities, and navigating the medical system. We wanted to build relationships with people but were unable to express anything deeper than, “How are you?” Plus, it was harder to understand people because voices were muffled by masks or plastic shields.

Yet we really were in Japan! Just as we had experienced the goodness of God’s grace and faithfulness in bringing us here, beginning a life in Japan reminded us to cling to the Lord every day in our weaknesses.

Fast forward one year, and God has continued to stretch us and grow us through our experiences here. Before we came to Japan, we knew that language and culture learning would be hard, yet somehow we still believed that with enough work, we would eventually be able to communicate as fluently and effectively as we imagined an idealized version of Hudson Taylor might have 150 years ago. We are slowly learning how things work in Japan (e.g., how to accumulate and use various customer point systems), can have casual conversations in Japanese, and can even understand some of Japanese sermons. But it’s humbling to recognize that we will likely never be able to communicate as smoothly in Japanese as we do in English. Thankfully God continues to challenge us in our inclination to rely on ourselves. We thought we could communicate on our own, but God keeps reminding us that gospel work is not by our own strength, but by his. He is with us and does the work.

As we have been learning language, we have also learned about the Japanese church. Though a tiny minority, the church is full of devoted Christ-followers who have persevered through adversity. We have been impacted by how difficult it can be to become a Christian in Japan, particularly for those who are the only ones in their family to follow Christ. We see how God has clearly been working throughout history to sanctify and grow his people in this country through both joy and sorrow. And we are learning how important it is for us as missionaries to humbly learn from the experiences of Japanese Christians and to seek to work in unity and partnership with them for the gospel.

As Paul wrote, “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV). We are always tempted to think we are self-sufficient and capable people. But our weaknesses (linguistic and cultural ineptitude) and the perceived weakness of the Japanese church remind us that anything accomplished is only through God’s grace and mercy. God has shown us that it’s not about who we are or what we can do, but about who he is and all that he has already accomplished and will continue to do.

Please pray that we will continue to put our trust, identity, and hope in the love of God so that Christ might be revealed through us.

By Chris and Emily, OMF missionaries

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