My wife and I, together with our 3 year old daughter, first came to Japan from Australia in December 2006. Since then we have taken a Home Assignment (HA) three times in-person and once ‘virtually’ from Japan in 2021.
Our first HA was just under 12 months, but since then we’ve spent a maximum of three months in Australia each time. Our daughter was in the Japanese education system and we wanted to keep it that way.
We are connected with 7 churches in south-east Queensland and around 200 individual prayer partners, mostly in the same area.
How we do Home Assignment
During HA our weekends are full. We preach and do events at supporting churches. When we visit a church on a Sunday, if we are asked to join someone for lunch, then we automatically go. If we are at that church for the rest of the week as well, then we go to every church meeting or event to meet people. Then on the Saturday we often have a church meal and a Q&A time. The MC might ask, ‘Is there anything that you’ve not had a chance to ask yet?’
Ministry weeks and these casual meals build a better connection with the church and with people than just standing at the front. It’s these conversations, and meals and coffees which are the things that connect us to people and that’s where we often get new partners.
We also do a lot of connecting with people and churches in Australia when we are in Japan too. If you are only do a short HA, you have to hit the ground running. A strong connection, particularly with churches, is needed for short HAs. My aim is to try and relate with each of our pastors or the church mission rep at least once every two months..
Home Assignment differences, joys and tough bits?
The virtual HA was very different. Those spontaneous meals and coffees just did not happen – we were on Zoom!
The joy of HA is really connecting with people; A particular joy is when you meet people who have been following you, and they tell you they’ve been thinking about the things you’ve said or written.
The hardest part of HA is trying to do all the things that you know you can’t actually do. I just can’t meet with 200 people. Also knowing what to share with people. What will show my heart and what will touch the hearts of our dear prayer partners?
When I think of HA, ‘connecting’ is what comes to mind. Because the type of connecting we can do on HA is one that we just can’t do through a prayer letter or an email or whatever else we send from Japan.
It’s the connection, the re-connection, of walking into a church and feeling “These are my people. These people pray for me, support me. These people care for me.” It’s that kind of emotional reconnection that fills us and builds us up to go back to Japan and do it all again.
To all those connected with us…
I’d like to say “Thank you” to our ministry partners. Thank you for being part of this journey from day one, when this couple announced one day that ‘We think God is calling us to Japan.’ Thank you for being part of an amazing journey.
By an OMF Missionary
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