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How I came to be an OMF guest home manager

I grew up never thinking I would do missions for anything longer than a couple of weeks. Missions was never on my radar, and neither was East Asia.

And yet I arrived in Japan on March 1 this year to be the manager for OMF Japan’s guest home in Ichikawa near Tokyo. I’ll be serving here for at least a year.

How did happen?

I grew up on a small farm in Western New York. I have three older siblings and was raised in church. I did graphic design at college, but that wasn’t my thing. I did other jobs at a building supply company and a company that supplied machinery for food and drink production.

During Covid, I saw a documentary about Japan’s sengoku (“Warring States”) period. Now, I am a big history nerd, so I looked for more about Japanese history and discovered a podcast that I devoured.

As I studied Japanese history, the topic of Christianity in Japan kept coming up. People always say ‘Christianity hasn’t really ever seemed to catch on in Japan.’ As a Christian, I wondered why. I continued to learn more about Japan, the history, culture, and the state of Christianity, I felt a pull to go and live in Japan for a while.

I researched different job opportunities. The OMF opportunities page had the guest home manager role listed. As I read the description I thought, “I think I can do all of that.” I sent a link to my brother-in-law asking him, “I could do this, right?” He replied “Oh, yeah, totally!” I hit the enquirer button, and a week later got an email from the OMF US Japan Mentor.

I met with him for an hour and a half. I told him about myself and why I was interested in Japan. We talked a bit about the guest home role. He connected me with OMF Japan, and I had a video chat with them, too. The next day I got an email saying they were interested in having me come, but they’d like me to pray about it for a couple weeks and then get back to them.

I took two weeks and prayed about it. I asked some family and friends to join me in that time of prayer. What made up my mind to say Yes was a quote I heard when I was 18 years old: ’The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner).

My deep gladness was moving to Japan and experiencing life and culture here, as well as being in a practical, servant role that isn’t necessarily out in front. It’s kind of quiet and behind the scenes, but very necessary. That’s the type of ministry I had previously really enjoyed doing. And what OMF is doing in Japan is certainly qualifies as meeting the world’s deep hunger.

Before I arrived, I expected the guest home manager role to be a lot of work — sometimes overwhelming and somewhat thankless. Although it is busy, I have certainly not found it thankless. The people I work with are very grateful. And it’s also not as overwhelming as I feared it would be. The Lord has provided plenty of helpful short term workers.

A highlight for me has been hosting people on Sunday evenings. I’ll make dinner and invite either some of the short term workers, or guest home guests to come over for a meal. I meet OMFers who are passing through and OMFers from other fields too. I don’t just house people, but share meals together with them.

People do say, “Tokyo is very lonely,” and initially I wasn’t prepared for how that would look. Often I finished with work at five and had nothing to do and no one to hang out with for the rest of the evening. I felt that loneliness very strongly. The first couple of months in particular were really rough. It is getting better though, as I develop relationships with people around me.

Being the guest home manager is like being a jack of all trades. You’re fixing things, you’re making beds, you’re doing laundry – all sorts of different things every day. I find that I really do enjoy the work.

To do this role you have to be someone who wants to serve. People are grateful, but you’re still going to have times when you think, “I don’t have the energy for that right now.” You need to have the baseline of, “I’m here to serve.” You also have to be detail-oriented. There are a lot of details just in preparing rooms for guests arrival. You must be organized and stay on top of things.

I’ll leave you with this: Always keep your mind and heart open to what God might call you to. You might think that goes without saying, but God used a chance decision to watch a documentary to set off the chain of events that brought me here.

By Tim, an OMF short-term missionary

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