Japan

  • 15 May
    Singapore to Japan: Shao Xiong & Levene’s Mission Story

    Singapore to Japan: Shao Xiong & Levene’s Mission Story

    Shao Xiong & Levene are missionaries from Singapore to Japan for two years with OMF. We caught up with them to find out about their journey to this point.

    Where did your interest in missions begin?

    Levine: “All along, ever since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen missions is very important. but it was only more crystallized when I went to Australia to study. We were involved in OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship) and from there, we met many people from different backgrounds, nationalities, languages, and we could see that many of them have never heard the gospel before in their lives in their home countries.
    So to meet these people (we come from Singapore where the gospel is freely preached and I grew up in a Christian family) who have never heard the gospel before and to actually share it with them, and see it how like a light bulb in their eyes, it was really an enlightenment, and it sparked an interest (in me) for further discovery and exploration in missions.”

    Why Japan?

    Shao Xiong: “It was back in 2013 that we heard the sharing about short-term mission work in the Northern part of Japan with the tsunami victims. At that point I was very moved by the sharing. I procrastinated for a year, (but) Levene eventually pushed me to sign up for the short-term trip. When we went, we saw that there was a great spiritual need in Japan. And it was not just the emotional or physical needs of the tsunami victims, but we’ve come realize the Church in Japan needed a lot of support, encouragement and prayers. They need long-term workers as well. So that made us think more seriously about long-term missions, possibly in Japan.”

    Were there any barriers you encountered, had to work out and overcome before making decisions to missions?

    Levene: “Our journey thus far has been very smooth, and there were not much obvious barriers, but, for sure, there were barriers that we needed to overcome within our own hearts. In Singapore, it seems that it is expected of you to study hard, get good grades, get a good job, climb the career ladder, get married, buy a house, have kids- that’s the route that everyone is ‘supposed’ to take as a young person in your 30s. To actually resign from your job- we just got married two years back, just got our home flat with a mortgage and thinking about children, we had to overcome these expectations, not just in our minds but in our hearts as well, and to really know that we can trust God to provide for all our needs in Singapore when everyone else is telling us to buy insurance, have more savings, what is your plan for the future and just entrust our children into God’s hands.”

    Shao Xiong: “Because my parents aren’t Christians, we were afraid that they wouldn’t quite understand why we would be doing this. After all, they’ve raised us up for so long, sent us overseas for studies, and there were certain expectations of how we should take care of them in their old age. So this was something that weighed heavily on my heart. But I think that God must have guided this and when we spoke to them about it, my father was actually quite supportive of our decision, and we thank God that they have come to terms with us leaving and have given us their blessings as well.”

    What are some things that we can pray with for, your families, and the Japanese people?

    Shao Xiong: “I think we foresee that the Japanese language is a difficult language and we will need lots of prayer that we can master the language and learn it well. Pray that we will be able to adjust in the transitions, in terms of the culture and work well with the team in Japan. More importantly, it is to pray that even through our own limited effort that God can use what limited things that we’ve done or that we will be doing to further his kingdom.”

    Levene: “Pray for us that we will love the Lord Jesus one more, because we will not be able to love the Japanese people if we do not have love for the Father, if we do not keep walking in step with him if our walk with God is distant. Only when our hearts are knit with Christ, then we can truly show his love and truly love others, not by our own strengths but through his strength. So that’s our big prayer point.”

    To read more on their story and journey of missions, find their story in Go Asia, at omf.org/singapore/2019/01/31/go-asia-jan-apr-2019-new-beginnings/
    By sgadmin Story , ,
  • 08 Jan
    A Reflective Tohoku Prayer Journey

    A Reflective Tohoku Prayer Journey

    Written by James Kwan for Go Asia (Sep-Dec 2018)

    Photography has always been a passion of mine, and I desire to glorify God by serving in the media and photography ministries in church and Christian organisations. Travelling and photography have also been something I’ve been doing during my school breaks, but coming to Tohoku in Japan as a photographer for short-term missions was something I felt challenged to do.

    I asked myself, why not explore missions in Japan and make use of my photography skills on the mission field instead of spending the entire month for travel and leisure? I guess I was drawn to Japan because I had studied Japanese for a year a couple of years back. Moreover, a group of us in my church had recently started coming together to pray and reach out to Japanese people in Singapore. As we prayed, I sensed the Lord calling me to go. This short-term mission trip was eye-opening and renewed my perspective of missions.

    In travelling with the prayer journey team through the Tohoku region, this was what I took away from the trip:

    Relationships

    Being able to serve alongside a diverse group of believers from different cultures and ethnicity impressed greatly on me how the Gospel transcends differences in cultures and unites us in Christ. In Him, we have a common salvation and hope. Observing and hearing about the relationships between the Japanese and missionaries and other believers also taught me how relationships with the Japanese people require time, even years of discipleship for them to come to faith. It reminded me to dismiss the tendency to expect big momentous conversions in a short span of time and of the great commission, in which Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples,”—not, Go therefore and make decisions.

    Prayer

    Being part of the prayer journey team and experiencing the culture of prayer during morning devotions at Nozomi Church taught me much about prayer. It revealed to me how little I know about prayer, and how lacking in faith I was. I was really challenged to engage in prayer and to expect God to work through the prayers of His people. Although God is sovereign, He has foreordained that His work would be accomplished through the work of our prayers to bring about change. I also learnt to pray specifically instead of giving general prayer requests. After all, how will we know God answered our prayers if we never pray specifically for things?

    The needs of churches in Japan

    Travelling with the prayer journey team gave me a greater understanding of missions and the needs of the Japanese churches in the Tohoku region, practical workings of their ministries, and demographics in the region. I have heard from friends or people involved in mission work in Tokyo that churches in the Japanese capital tend to be more international, or at least draw a more international crowd, and that most of them had services in English or in both English and Japanese. So I wondered, what about a local Japanese church?

    On hearing about the work in the local churches in Tohoku, I found that there is a great need for more pastors or younger people to shepherd their flocks. It really affected me when I heard from some missionaries and pastors that there was a serious shortage of pastors and leaders. This challenged me to seriously consider taking a step beyond merely being involved with missions as a photographer, and to be involved in church planting, revitalisation and leading. Before this, I had a general impression that there was a need to reach out to the Japanese community as there are so few Christians. But now, I have come to realise that churches there need much support, prayer, practical help, laborers and pastors.

    As the trip drew to an end, I had a good opportunity to photograph and document images that could be used for media or mobilisation-related purposes. More than that, I was able to observe and support in the daily rhythm of missions in Japan. I witnessed how God used the mundane and daily moments to bring about change. To discern if God is calling me back to Japan, I plan to take some practical steps such as praying for Japan. I pray that God will give me a greater burden for Japan, for more opportunities to be involved with Japan down the road, and to continue reaching out to the Japanese people with the group in my church.