God is at work, even when we can’t see it

A lot of people have referred to Japan as a missions graveyard. Perhaps because it can take a lifetime to see a tiny bud of faith sprout from a thousand planted seeds of God’s word. Even so, it’s not an encouraging idiom for a new worker to hear before they arrive, let alone when they get here. It also belittles the incredible amount of time and work that thousands of missionaries have already done. Japan is not a graveyard. However, millions of people are still waiting to hear about the empty tomb.
I’m about to begin my second year of language study in Sapporo, and goodness me, it’s hard to see God at work sometimes. I don’t learn new languages easily. From time to time I cry after my classes because I’m frustrated at how poorly I express myself, and how little I remember after a week, month, and now almost a year. I’m no good at this. He can’t really be planning to use this…
But maybe he is, and maybe he will…
I wonder if it felt like an age for the disciples: those three days between Jesus’ death and his talking and walking with them again. I wonder how long it was between his resurrection and them seeing him in the flesh that they still thought of him as dead. . . . We haven’t seen him. He can’t really be alive…
But, maybe he is…
That hope creeps in, new and fresh every day. It pops up like the spring flowers forcing their way up after months of snow. Thank God that his power is made perfect in weakness, that in my times of discouragement and doubt, I can say with confidence that Jesus is not dead, but alive! And the living don’t inhabit a graveyard. Japan is a place beloved by Jesus who is alive, active, and working. I see it in small progress in language study, in my fellow student’s small successes in speaking to locals, in opportunities to explain a Bible passage to a teacher who isn’t a Christian. Many people around us haven’t met him yet. How wonderful that we can be the ones who know he is risen and can run to tell them. The better we communicate, the more people can hear and understand.
Next time you hear about the “missions graveyard”, please repeat these words: Graveyard? Jesus is alive and is working, and the living don’t inhabit a graveyard. We are witnesses.
By Roz, an OMF missionary

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