Standing on the sideline of the football field with my teammates at our weekly flag football practice, I found myself having a conversation with one of them about Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (ESV). Well, actually, she was asking me questions in Japanese and I was so nervous because I knew she was asking about the Bible, but I had no idea what she was talking about!
Afterwards, I asked her to send me a text of what she was saying so I could understand using Google translate. I was then able to send her a Japanese video about the book of Ecclesiastes so she could understand more. The following week, at practice, she told me it was interesting and enjoyed learning more about it.
Exploring the possibilities
Since learning less than 1% of people in Japan are Christian, I have wanted to explore what my part in sharing the gospel with Japanese people could be. But without any Japanese or a theological degree, I felt unqualified to share the gospel or read the Bible with Japanese people. I thought, however, I could at least support the missionaries to do their work. So, I came to Japan as an Associate in the Finance Manager role to explore what long-term missions might look like. I wanted to see what I could contribute to the work that God is doing amongst the Japanese.
A year and a half in, I have only realized more of how unqualified I am. I have been studying the language, and while I have improved, I’m still a far way off from being able to share about Jesus in Japanese. And I’m definitely not able to explain the book of Ecclesiastes to anyone . . . in Japanese or English!
Part of God’s work
However, despite my lack of abilities, God has given me opportunities to be part of the work he is already doing: conversations with my flag football teammates, interactions with Japanese housemates, the youth at church, and even my language teacher.
Matthew 6:33 has been a verse that God keeps reminding me of: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (ESV). He has reminded me that my role is to seek his purposes first and see where I fit in. He has shown me over and over again that it’s not about what I’m doing here in Japan; it’s about what God is doing.
I have one more year left as an Associate and though it has been sad and lonely at times, God has reminded me of the hope and joy I have in him. He’s shown me the need for his hope and joy amongst the Japanese people. I am thinking of coming back long term and know the importance of equipping myself theologically, and continuing to learn and understand the language and culture.
When I finish my term and go home, I hope to equip myself for long term by going to seminary and sharing with others about what God is doing in Japan so they can pray for his work here too! Though there is still a lot of uncertainty ahead, I can be excited to see how God will fulfill His purposes and provide for me to be a part of his work.
By Candace, an OMF Associate