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Pilates in Japan


I want to be used by God. I want my skills, work, and interests to glorify him. I know God can use me, but I’m always blown away by how he does.

Coming to Japan for six months was a step of faith. It was my first experience with missions and my first time overseas. As I prepared to leave my mind was filled with questions:

Would I like Japan? Was the food good? Would I make friends? What if I didn’t get along with the mission’s team? Would I survive jetlag?

I was afraid I would be useless, afraid I’d spend six months overwhelmed by the language barrier and unable to really serve. I wanted to feel I was here for a purpose. I wanted to use the experiences and skills God had given me.

God worked in a way I’d never imagined.

Before applying to come with Serve Asia, I’d received certification as a Pilates instructor. I’d done it on a whim, just for fun. Nevertheless, I started teaching over the summer before I came to Japan and came to enjoy it as a hobby.

Meanwhile, in Hirosaki, the team at Nozomi Church, had started a weekly aerobics class using YouTube videos as a way to build community connections. Every Tuesday a group of ladies, mostly non-believers, came together to work out and hear a short Bible talk.

When my Serve Asia application was accepted I learned about the aerobics class and that I could be involved. So, as I packed my suitcase, I made sure to leave room between my snow boots and sweaters for my yoga mat.

I arrived in Hirosaki in November and started teaching Pilates once a week.  I was thrilled to use this seemingly random hobby. It was fun to learn exercise terms in Japanese and that would have been enough for me, but God had bigger plans.

The ladies really liked having a live instructor and started inviting friends. One attendee invited me to teach a short exercise class for children at a local Christmas party. The class grew and we made more connections.

One mother, who’d attended some holiday events, started coming to Pilates and bringing her daughter to English classes. She also started coming to church services. After a recent Pilates class she asked to do Bible study with one of the missionaries.

Also, when a local yoga instructor found out I taught Pilates, she asked if I could teach her an individual class. We connected over exercise, and since then we’ve met for Pilates, yoga, and dinner. Last time we met I was able to share what Jesus meant to me. She told about her experience in college with a Bible class and how she always remembered the Christian teacher’s kindness to his students. I was amazed at how God used my hobby to make gospel connections.

God surprises us

As a Serve Asia worker, I was afraid I wouldn’t find a place to fit in. How could God work through me? But God showed me he can, and does, use anything. He even uses short term workers who don’t think they have anything to offer.

Do you have any “random” hobbies or skills? Take it from me, God can use them. Just be willing to serve—then watch what he does.

By Morgan, OMF Serve Asia worker

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