“I really need to wee,” declared Isaac, our eight-year-old son.
Our family were walking through the old part of Hanamaki, our home in rural northern Japan with Takahashi, a Japanese seeker from our church. He’d taken our family to meet a local Christian shopkeeper, but the shopkeeper wasn’t there at the time, so we were heading back to the car when Isaac made his desperate declaration.
This, of course, was not the first time our young family has faced this kind of challenge in unfamiliar territory. Weeing in the street just doesn’t fit well with Japanese culture, so we were in a dilemma. But that was just the moment that God surprised us. A lady, who we’d never met before, walked past and quickly recognised our problem.
“Why don’t you come and use the toilet in my shop?” she said.
So we all trotted down the road to her Sign Shop where she made tea for us and sat down for a chat as Isaac did his business. Keiko chatted to us warmly, like an old friend, telling us about her holidays in France and Canada. As we glanced round the shop, we could see that they were making the bright costumes worn at the annual Hanamaki festival, where thousands of people descend on the centre of our small town and Shinto “god houses” are paraded through the streets.
Keiko has since visited our church and we’ve occasionally met her in her shop. We don’t know where this relationship will lead, but we’re praying for lots of people like her. People with whom we can share, not just our foreign culture, but also the hope we have in Jesus.
We are now nearing the end of our first four years or “training term” in Japan and we often ask ourselves: “How can we meet new people in the community?” Some of these meetings come out of planned events—like English classes or playing football in a local group—but our God can also give us unexpected meetings with people, like the one with Keiko. We keep praying that God will continue to bring to us those who he’s called to be his own.
Whatever mission field we’re in, we can all feel nervous or unsure about how to meet people with whom we can share God’s good news. God is teaching us as a family that the first steps are to:
- be there, and
Could God be calling you to pray? Could he be calling you to be in East Asia? Just look out, God might surprise you by what he can do.
By Mark, an OMF missionary
* names changed
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for missionaries in their ‘training term’ to find creative ways to meet new people.
- Pray for God to provide opportunities to meet new people and share the good news.
- Pray about whether God may be guiding you to come to East Asia.