Japanese has a bunch of “almost English” phrases. One of my favourites is ピンチはチャンス literally, “A pinch is a chance.” As far as I remember we don’t really say that in England, but I think it has a nice ring to it, as well as a lot of truth. And it’s a truth I’ve been thinking about a lot since the borders re-opened.
You see, we (OMF Japan) really are in a bit of a pinch. Our difficulty? We’ve had a lot of new missionaries arrive in the last 12 months. Don’t get me wrong, people being able to finally come into Japan after years of the borders being closed is a cause for celebration and a real answer to prayer. I thank God for all the new missionaries coming into Japan.
However, it does also cause some difficulties. The main one being that we are almost at full capacity at the OMF language school (JLCC) in Sapporo. This is where all our new missionaries normally go to study Japanese language and culture. The school is run by OMF and so the teachers there understand us, our values, and our expectations. We have a mix of male and female teachers, Christians and non-Christians, but all are qualified and passionate about equipping missionaries to learn the culture deeply and share the gospel clearly. And in Sapporo we also have a dedicated team of OMF missionaries who can give support to new folks. We even have a local bank that is used to setting up accounts with foreigners. But as new people keep coming into Japan, sending them all to Sapporo is not an option in the near future.
Quite the pinch
But also quite the chance. A chance to try something new: namely, doing language and culture learning down in Kanto (over 1,000 km away). And through taking that step of faith we also open up a chance to recognise our limitations and embrace our weaknesses and vulnerability. We have a chance to ask Japanese churches and local believers to help us settle and orientate new missionaries to life and ministry in Japan. A chance to partner with different missionary agencies. A chance as a fellowship to help and rely on each other more. A chance to exercise the fruits of the Spirit and together grow more like the Jesus we proclaim. And above all, a chance to seek the Lord and his strength.
Yes, a pinch is a chance, but more importantly, a pinch is a call to prayer.
So please pray with us.
1. Our new missionaries, wherever they are based, will learn Japanese and culture well.
2. For several new initiatives taking place as we welcome more workers to the field—that the Lord will provide the people and resources we need to make these work well.
3. That our new workers will be a blessing to the communities and churches they are part of whilst language learning.
By Levi, an OMF missionary