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I discovered unexpected opportunities in Japan

Sometime God gives us opportunities to serve him, even when we are not searching for them.

Teaching ladies

Many years ago, when I was running a hostel for missionary children, a Japanese Christian woman who had a desire for her friends to hear about Jesus asked me to teach an English class using Bible stories as the text. Though I was busy, I decided I could.

On Thursday mornings the women arrived at 10 o’clock for a cup of tea. After that we did a study of a simple Bible story in English, with grammar points and questions for each lesson. The lessons were set up with explanations in Japanese too, so that students at many levels could use them (if you’re interested in checking them out, you can read or download them from here: In Japan these types of classes are a common way of introducing Jesus to those who do not know him yet. I taught this class for three years and only God knows what has happened to the seeds planted in those ladies.

Teaching little kids

Over two decades later another request for teaching English showed up in my inbox. This time to Japanese preschoolers and kindergarten kids! My first thoughts: I am close to retiring, I have not taught little kids in ages. Do I even have the energy to teach three classes in a row? 

Yet, I kept feeling the Lord nudge me with thoughts like: “You are a trained kindergarten teacher, it will come back. If I want you to do this, I will give you what you need. It is only a bike ride away. This is a Christian preschool with children from mainly non-Christian families. They want you to tell a Bible story during each class, so you have a chance to share about my love to the little children, to influence them toward the good news.” 

I decided to take the job, and I love it! Since it is just twice a month I am still able to do my other ministries. It does take a lot of preparation—to make the English part of the lesson fun, and also figure out how to present the Bible story, using felt figures, in a way that it will convey God’s mighty works and his love for the children. It is a challenge to do all this in simple English, but God helps me each time. 

There are non-Christian teachers listening too, so I try to add some key phrases and a summary of the story in Japanese, praying that the truth of God’s Word will also enter their hearts. I cannot do this in my own strength, but going into class being supported by people who are praying makes all the difference! 

I’ve been a younger missionary, teaching older women; and an older missionary, teaching young kids. From both of these experiences I know God can use any of us at any time, and in ways we do not expect.

How might God want to use you in this current season?

By Shelley, an OMF missionary

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