Dear Friends and Fellow Servants of Our Lord,
In the Gospel of Matthew, the imprisoned John the Baptist sent a message to Jesus questioning “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” When I saw a bedraggled group of travelers in ages ranging from their twenties to eighties coming through the gate at Naha Airport last June 25th, I similarly questioned in my mind, “Is this the West Virginia mission team who is to come, or should we look for someone else?”
Joking aside, (because we knew this was just travel weariness), what we witnessed from this team was similar to how Jesus responded to John’s question.
In the churches: The Gospel was preached, and testimonies of God’s life-changing power inspired Okinawa listeners. Unrehearsed, team members sang “Country Roads” to a responsive crowd gathered for an event called “Baptist Day”. Open to cultural exchange, group members enthusiastically learned the art of origami.
At the Convention office: A seminar on church planting was met with keen interest by local pastors, (as evidenced by diligent note-taking and in-depth questioning).
On the bus and at large: Tracts were distributed, and people on the street were invited to worship. The team also ministered to a sixteen-year-old Okinawa girl with some emotional/spiritual issues. Fellowship meals of interesting varieties were enjoyed by all, as were laughter, teasing, joking, story-telling, and encouragement. Some team members toured a local pottery village, whose Christian owner had received the Emperor’s award for being a national cultural treasure.
At Okinawa Christian School International: Students and teachers in summer session were blessed with classroom help from team members, while a weak school kitchen floor in a sweltering hot trailer got reinforced. The team also dismantled old school lockers on the third floor of the school and hoisted them down to make room for a new locker bay. Eternal friendships were forged with school missionary personnel.
At Hokuzanso Baptist Camp: In tropical heat, men of the group removed caked-on debris from the Baptist camp dining hall roof and raked the grounds, as the women cleaned cabin kitchens and the chapel. The women also took old sleeping mats from a dark, musty closet and soundly beat them for the sin of attracting mildew, sunned them, and then returned them to their dark, but nicely cleaned cell to await service as camper bedding for the summer. Everyone then deferred self-gratification of going out for a treat, to support the sharing of the Gospel with a visitor at the camp who was searching for spiritual truth!
At sea: Some team members enjoyed “snorkeling” and “beach-combing” as they witnessed God’s glory in the myriads of life-forms in the ocean and on the beaches.
At the Memorial Peace Park and Museum: The missionaries contemplated the numerous sacrifices made on the island and throughout the Pacific theatre during WWII.
In Our hearts and Minds:
The desire to do more for our Lord’s Kingdom at home and wherever His Spirit calls is rekindled. We are filled with gratitude for the gifts and prayers that buoyed up this mission, and are already making plans for future mission trips, (perhaps as early as next year). There is a renewed appreciation for what God can do with us at almost any age, as we saw 21-81 year olds being moved vibrantly by the Holy Spirit on this mission, amid oppressive heat and culture shock. This was truly mission partnership at its best!
We also want to thank you for your sacrificial giving to us during the time of the World Mission Offering. We are amazed at how God is at work here in Okinawa and we appreciate how you have made it possible for us to be here serving Him at such at time as this.
David and Leslie Turley
We now have Skype capability. If your church is interested in doing a Skype call, please email us from our profile page and we can arrange it with you.
You can see a diary of the WV team trip with photos at the following site: http://dlturley.blogspot.com/