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How did God lead you into your current ministries?


Our first term in Japan began in mid-winter in the snowy northern Hokkaido. Our family of three moved in the a tiny apartment a 20-minute walk from the language school. Culture shock was initially difficult to separate from the shock at living with snow on the ground all winter. However God sustained us through some very difficult years and brought us out the other side, more prepared to serve in the years to come.

Language school

My husband enjoyed and did well at language school during our 2¼ years at language school. I didn’t, and that was a strain on our marriage. We also had a very active toddler. We had to take him out every day for significant periods (our apartment really was tiny). Half-way through our time at language school I became pregnant and the second year studying Japanese was even harder than the first. I struggled through the exhaustion of pregnancy and then the broken nights a new-born brings to a house. The last six months of our time at language school was done with a baby on my knee.

I remember asking a seasoned missionary during those years about how she became sure of her calling. She answered that it was often a day-by-day process. Telling myself: I’m here in Japan today, I can cope (by God’s grace) with today. I don’t know about tomorrow, but I’m not going to concern myself with that. It was a pivotal moment because I really didn’t feel like I could live in this strange land for many years.


After we graduated we moved to the south of the city to work with a church planting team for 1¼ years. It was a time of angst because we’d signed up to OMF for David to teach missionary children, and neither of us felt gifted or led to church planting. Indeed, I was still struggling badly with Japanese, not to mention two demanding young boys.

When we first applied to OMF, we were sure there’d be room for a maths/science teacher in Japan somewhere. But there wasn’t, so the plan OMF leaders came up with was for us to do a full course at language school and see if a teaching opening appeared during that time. But, nothing did. So, Plan B was to work with a church planting team. It was difficult, but it was a good opportunity to consolidate language and to learn about what ministry in a Japanese church was like.

We struggled along, but in the middle of that church-planting time we got a call from the Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ). They asked if my husband was interested in teaching science part-time. The opening was to start in 16-months. The timing was good and we went on home assignment in time to give us a full 12 months in Australia, our first time back in Australia in nearly four years.

Second term in Tokyo

When we came back to Japan for our second term and David started working at CAJ in Tokyo, there was such a sense of peace. He came home at night looking so satisfied. He said that from the first week he just knew it was the right place.

It took longer for me to feel happy in my role. At that time I had three boys, two under school age and was alone with them a lot of the day in a strange city. I also continued to struggle with learning Japanese. But during that second term God led me into writing as a ministry I could do from my home and still look after my boys. He also led me into a group of writers through whom I learned how to edit writing. Both these skills I’m using almost daily now, including being the manager and editor of this OMF Japan blog.

Not an overnight process

So, you can see a little how God led us from small-town Queenslanders to Tokyo residents and our current ministries (which I’ll write about next time). It wasn’t an overnight process, it wasn’t an easy process. Many tears, and many anguished prayers were delivered during those early years in Japan.

God never gave us a list of the steps we’d have to go through. He even led me into a ministry that was completely unexpected. But we can surely say it was his leading that brought us to where we are now.

By Wendy Marshall

Wendy is an Australian who has been in Japan with OMF since 2000. She’s married to David who teaches maths and science at the Christian Academy in Japan. She’s an editor and writer. In this nine-part series she answers searching questions about her experience of life and ministry as a missionary.

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