We finished language school a year ago with below average Japanese ability and moved down to Tohoku to help with the church planting. But we wondered: Would we really be of much help?
When you are still stumbling about in daily conversation it’s hard to imagine how you could lead a game or organise a meeting, let alone talk about deeper things and share the gospel clearly. As we suspected, those things have been difficult, but we are nonetheless encouraged. Here’s why.
Our mistake was to think about ourselves too much. God has shown us again that his work is not done by individuals but by his body. Even here, at a tiny church plant, we are part of the body of Christ.
A few months ago our former neighbour was baptised. But he didn’t come to Christ just through our connection. He discovered God’s word with the help of a bilingual Bible, read books, learned more about the gospel through colleagues with better language skills, was loved by our church, discovered more at another church, and was prayed for by people like you. There were many involved in his journey—even those who wrote and published the books, or gave sacrificially to provide our meeting place and our daily needs had a part to play.
It’s also another lesson about weakness that the Lord is teaching me and my wife. Stewarding talent and developing skill are important, because every part of our lives is for God’s glory and his work. But God is not limited by our talents or skills.
We’ve found that weakness removes the mask of strength. Others then see the reality of our frailty and the power and beauty of God at work in us. And we, de-robed of our proud self-reliance, are being taught to work as part of a body of Christians and rely on the Lord. It is his mission after all. It is good for us to remember that, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10 NIV).
Written by Matt