As I'm writing this note, one of our Japanese friends is downstairs talking to Kari here at the Kanto Gakuin University mission house. She's one of a number of Japanese Christians we know who can't seem to make her way into a church. For her, part of the reason is her husband's unwillingness to use his only day completely off work to sit for an hour and a half in a church service that's not kid-friendly (unfortunately, that's the "norm" for church services in Japan).
Yesterday, another friend was here. She is not a Christian--she's Buddhist, actually, but she's interested in Jesus' Way and has been attending home bible studies for about a year now...
The day before that, Kari was meeting with some of the mothers of children attending Yokohama International School (YIS). Many of these women have lots of time, are native English speakers, want to do something worthwhile while their families are here in Japan, but haven't really found a way to put that willingness to work. . .
These are all real people with real needs. Sometimes, it seems overwhelming to Kari and I to be here in Japan. Just as in America, many people (both Japanese and foreigners living in Japan) find themselves spiritually adrift in a culture that systematically substitutes real discussion about life's deepest issues with pre-programmed busy-ness designed to channel people into a "comfortable lifestyle."
Just as in the US, people here in Japan are yearning for the chance to engage in deep and sustained conversation about the issues that matter to them most--those chances are just too often not there at all.
This month, in addition to the normal ministry here at Kanto Gakuin University, we're trying to focus our energies in a couple of ways. First of all, we're beginning an "emergent church" - style English worship gathering at our home--it's scheduled for the second weekend of each month. Second, Kari's exploring some options for getting women at the International School involved in direct contact with Japanese and at the same time, helping them raise money for international projects dealing with women in crisis. Please pray that God directs us as we move forward with these projects.
On the home front, the kids are adjusting really well to their new life at YIS, and Adam was very happy to have been placed in the "native speakers" level of Japanese in his 5th grade class. They've both made some new friends already. (On the downside, the 75 minute one-way commute every day gets a little old!)
I wanted to send a special thank you to the St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans this month. Rev. Steven Meriwether, along with a number of church members went far and above out of their way to host a group of Kanto Gakuin college students about a week ago. The KGU kids had an opportunity to learn about the flood and how the church responded in its wake. They also got to do some hands-on rehabilitation of a nearby home damaged by Katrina. Thanks so much, St. Charles Avenue Baptist, for your participation in the mission of God "to, from, and among all 7 continents!"
As a reminder, this month begins World Mission Offering emphasis. Please remember that we, along with all your missionaries, depend upon your faithful giving to keep us in our places of ministry. Please give generously and with a cheerful heart--through you, God is at work in the world!
Grace & Peace,
Quote of the month:
"Buddhism does not and cannot engage in dialogue with Christianity. Buddhists can. Christianity neither eats nor sleeps. Christians do... Perhaps we pay undue attention to ism, and in contrast, too little attention to ist... The reality of both traditions lies in the living persons. . ."
- Japanese Christian theologian, Kosuke Koyama, Water Buffalo Theology (1974)