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God can use the unexpected to grow his church

We live in rural northern Japan where we run a small Japanese church. Sometimes people back home ask us, “What do you do all day as a missionary?” 

It’s a good question. One of the answers is that we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can meet people outside the church and how we can deepen relationships with those in the church. We have grand projects like community cafes, Christian Basics Courses, English classes, and video games events. God, in his kindness, uses all of these to build and strengthen relationships, but often he surprises us with what he uses to bring people together.

When we moved into our new church building last year, we bought a table tennis table to put one of our meeting rooms. So we often asked people, “Do you takyu?” (Do you play table tennis?) 

Sometimes a middle-aged man, whilst cutting a serve into the far corner, would talk about what it means to join a church. On another day an older lady from the congregation would show surprising skill with her backhand whilst getting to know one of our teenagers better. One young man, a regular at our café time, seems more open to talk about personal matters while he thrashes our staff members in a game. Elementary school children pour out hundreds of balls and laugh as they bounce them in handfuls off the table. 

How encouraging that the work of the church—that is building and growing gospel-centred relationships —can be done whilst playing a game. Did we expect to see God growing his church whilst we get surprisingly good at table tennis? No, but we have learned something important: God can use simple, unexpected things to grow his church. 

What is there in your life that God could use in Japan to grow his church?

By Mark, an OMF missionary

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