When God guided me to Japan, the two main “ingredients” he used to convince me that it would be a good fit were:
· Japan had less than 1% Christians—so there really was a need for missionaries, and
· I’d have many opportunities to minister to women, which fitted my gifting.
So I went.
I held my first cooking class while I was still at language school. I struggled with the words, but the friendly, helpful, fun-loving ladies didn’t mind at all. Over the years, my vocab as well as my repertoire expanded. Wherever I offered cooking classes, ladies turned up. While the food was simmering on the hob or baking in the oven, a colleague or I would give a short Bible talk to introduce the ladies to the One who wants to satisfy their hunger for acceptance, belonging, and love. For some, the cooking classes were the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to faith in Jesus.
Small town ministry
After I’d been in Japan for eight years, I moved to a small town where a colleague and I wanted to help plant a church. I joined a “Women’s light sports club”. Every week, 20 to 30 ladies met to play different sports—soft tennis, volleyball, badminton, etc.
“Are you OK with Japanese?” an older lady shouted through the gym when I turned up the for first time. Luckily, I was. Just before the summer break, I handed out invitations for two cooking events. A total of 15 ladies took part!
A few months later, I started two English classes, again inviting ladies from the sports group. Five signed up. In the meantime, I’d got to know a young massage therapist and his family. His wife and two of her friends also joined a class. Every week, I read through gospel passages and talked about Jesus with them. Some were moved, others less so. Yet I trust that sowing gospel seed is never in vain.
Not just sowing, but also reaping
Over the years, I’ve led one-on-one Bible studies, as well as small groups. I love it when ladies feel free to question or comment: “I think the prodigal son should have apologized, not just to his father, but to his older brother, too!” “Would God have expelled Adam and Eve from paradise if they had apologized?”
The crowning joy is when a lady steps forward in faith, commits her life to Jesus and becomes my sister in Christ. It may take a long time of patiently walking alongside them, but the precious Japanese ladies are worth every moment of it.
By an OMF missionary