Nov 11, 2008

Recent Encouragement

Over two weeks ago, my co-worker and our team leader Joyce returned to the States for her year-long furlough. I knew that I would step up as the team leader and I'd been somewhat dreading it. You see, I'm a reluctant leader and really identify with Moses in Exodus 3. God has always had a way of pushing me and I generally fall into line--eventually. Interestingly, at our last staff meeting, I was able to voice my hesitation and insecurity about stepping out and before the week was over, I realized that I had calmed down considerably. In the last two weeks, I've really sensed God's grace covering me.

Right now, Ayame has taken a ministry sabbatical as she is taking care of both her invalid parents. (Pray that she and her brother can finalize nursing home situations for both parents soon.) That said, our ministry team has been halved as Yuri and I are co-leading the ministry. Yuri works part-time at one of our campuses, the University of Tokyo, and so she is the ministry representative for us there. I've taken on the responsibilities at Waseda University .

Last night was the Tokyo area monthly prayer meeting at our Chi Alpha Student Center. I asked a young pastor who is on the Japan A/G youth committee to be our guest speaker. I was a bit concerned when he didn't show up at 6:30 PM as planned. Fortunately, a retired minister was already there and was willing to fill in if Shiraishi Sensei didn't come. Finally, at 6:50 Shiraishi Sensei arrived with his wife and two small boys. They had gotten lost and had been wandering around the neighborhood for almost 40 minutes. Anyway, I didn't panic but knew God would work out everything, and He did!

Last week I caught a bad cold which affected my voice, but I kept praying and asking for prayer so that I could lead worship last night. Ever since I went into ministry, I've had to deal with allergies and such things that affect my voice. Over the years, I've learned that I can sing with a head voice even though my speaking voice is rather husky. Last night God helped me to sing and lead in worship and I was even amazed at how much Japanese I was using. It wasn't perfect Japanese but the students seemed to understand and really began to worship God through singing, praying, greeting one another, etc.

One of mine and Yuri's goals is to incorporate more students in visible ministry. Last night both of our student presidents at the University of Tokyo and at Waseda University were there. Tracy is a 4th year student at the University of Tokyo and she was the emcee for the evening. Nonnchan is a 3rd year student at Waseda and she assisted me in singing on the worship team. They both did a great job. The worship team was made up of all students, too. Yumiko played the keyboard, Inoru kun played the acoustic guitar, and Yuuki kun played the drums.

Another bright spot was over a week ago Hide, a guy that I talked about while I was home on furlough, came to our meeting at Waseda University. He had spent 10 months at Columbia University in New York and had returned late this summer. He told us that the Mormons hounded him while he was in the States, but he said that because of his involvement with us at Waseda's Bible studies, he recognized that something was off about them. He said, "I'm really thankful for my time at WEBS (Waseda English Bible Society-our name on campus) because that prepared me." I was so encouraged to hear that. He recognizes that true Christianity is about simple faith in Jesus Christ. It's not about doing a step that leads to another step and so on.

These are just a few things that have really encouraged me. God has been reminding me that He just wants me to love Him and people and show that love in practical ways. That's real ministry!