Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Living in the Desert

From February 13, 2018

Living in the Desert

Imagine being born into slavery. For hundreds of years, your people have been mistreated and disrespected. But a leader rises up among you and your people leave behind lives of backbreaking work and desperation. You are promised a land of your own where living will be good! But before you arrive (because of your consistent complaining and lack of faith in your God), you will wander for more than 40 years in the desert. Your children will leave your body in an unmarked grave in the desert, and they will go into and inherit the promised land.

Life as a missionary can sometimes feel like that, perhaps especially in Japan. In missionary circles, Japan is known as "the graveyard of the missionary" due to the difficult nature of ministry here. Granted, life is comparably easy in Japan. When feeling sorry for myself that, for example, clothes dryers are not common here, I remind myself that I could be washing my laundry on a rock while staring down a water buffalo. Japan is modern! How could I possibly complain? Well, I do complain sometimes, especially about Japanese bureaucracy, and silly rules that seem to serve no real purpose.

But honestly, life has been particularly discouraging for me the last six months.

(This is where most missionaries dare not go, and I am questioning myself as I write this. Supporters want to hear encouraging missionary reports, right? Well, life is sometimes hard, even -- or perhaps especially -- on the mission field.)

Ministry in Osaka is very different from what I was recruited to do. As you likely know, we lost our founding "college planter" before we even arrived in Osaka. I fell into being the interim team leader. Replacing our college planter has taken much more time than we anticipated. My skillset has been stretched to the limit in being the number one leader; that's not a role where I function best.

Because of the incredible ways in which God worked to prepare me for, and then bring me to Japan and the Genesis team, I have been convinced that our team would not fail because of the loss of our leader. God would provide! I have often heard very undeserved praise for that confidence. But in the last months, that confidence is waning. Our entire team seems to be losing faith in the vision that drew us here, bringing about a real slump in team dynamics. It is a difficult season.

Please pray for us:
  • Pray that God will renew our faith in His calling and in His leading of our team.
  • Pray that the devil will not succeed in discouraging our team. He knows what we are up to, and does not want us to succeed.
  • Pray that God will equip me to lead this team through a difficult period. I've failed in many, many ways, and contributed to the stress -- and conflict -- on our team.
  • Pray that God will provide a new college planter-team leader very soon. We have two good prospects, but the process is taking a long time.
  • Praise God that whatever happens, He will use it for the good of all those who love Him (Romans 8:28)!



Genesis Cafe Trial Event

On January 31, we held a free special event for our Genesis Cafe students. We had a regular English cafe event in our new office, trying it out for potential regular use for our twice-a-month event. Eleven students came, and the room proved more than adequate. Once we are able to make some acoustical improvements to dampen the sound, and purchase some needed supplies, we will move to our own space.

One of the advantages of this move is that we can make coffee for much less than what we pay at the Swissotel cafe (about $8.25 for a small cup!). We can pass the savings on to our student, charging a much lower fee. By charging less, we hope to draw more of our target students -- those who did not go to university, working part-time or low-paying jobs. We'd like to equip them with skills for better jobs, but through our lives and friendship, also share the hope of the gospel of Christ with them.



Prayer Points

Pray about the issues plaguing our team, as described in the article to the left.

Pray for our Genesis Cafe event, as we will soon be moving it out of the Swissotel and into our new office/classroom space.

Pray for a new "college planter." I hope we can name a new president in the next few months.



Culture Corner
"Zen is for monks,
not merchants."

You may be familiar with the Japanese zen minimalism as it is seen in simple gardens, art, and architecture: clean lines; no clutter.

But take a look at a Japanese website and you'll quickly cry "visual assault!"

A recent blog from Moravia, explores why Japanese websites look so 1995 -- busy, chaotic, mind-numbing. They conclude that the Japanese consumer wants ALL the facts -- without any clicking -- before buying.

I think that's true with Christianity as well. The Japanese who is interested in Christianity wants to know everything before committing their lives to Christ. Please don't misunderstand; knowledge is certainly a good thing. I don't want a "convert" who doesn't know what he or she is converting to. But neither can someone know everything about God before becoming a Christian. It's not even remotely possible!

Please pray for the Japanese people to have the faith of a child, and then to study scripture with the love of a child getting to know his Father.



(Click on photo above to compare the US Starbucks homepage to the Japan Starbucks homepage and to read the entire blog from Moravia.)



Valentine's Day in Japan
(A little bonus "Culture Corner" this month, since it is nearly Valentine's Day.)

Men, have you bought chocolate or flowers for your wives or girlfriends yet? If you lived in Japan, you wouldn't need to! Instead, it's the women who buy chocolate. And not just for their boyfriends or husbands, but also for all the men in their lives, including their co-workers. The men treat you terribly at work? Doesn't matter;  many see this tradition as obligatory, and it can get quite expensive.

A month later, it's the men's turn. On "White Day," the men must buy chocolate for the women in their lives. The advantage is they know who gave them chocolate, and about how much was spent! They also are likely to work with far fewer women than the women work with men. It is a man's world!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 7, 2017

Little Steps, Big God

"Will Genesis International College ever get off the ground?"

Perhaps you've wondered that many times over the last few years. Losing our founding president before the arrival of any other team members in Osaka would seem to be fatal to the team. However, God has always been providing for little steps forward -- sometimes bigger steps -- and so our team remains confident that He has a plan for us here in Osaka.

We have a big God who sees all of eternity as a seamless tapestry that He has woven. We cannot know for sure that the vision we have for GIC will actually come to fruition. But we can rest assured that God's plan is better than anything we could ever imagine. If it's not a college, then perhaps it's an English school. If not an English school, then something else. While we don't know all the facts, we do know that God has not closed the doors on this vision. He is providing opportunities and hope for accomplishing the original vision for GIC.  Here are a few of the ways in which God is leading us, step by step:

Presidential Prospects: in September, a presidential candidate visited us in Osaka. Our team enjoyed our time with him very much, and see great potential with him at our helm. However, there are two other solid candidates as well. I met one of them a year ago in the States. He is about to finish his PhD and then is open to visiting Osaka to see what God may have in store for us and for him. Another person contacted me a few months ago, and we have visited online. I will meet him and his wife later this week in Texas while attending the PCA Global Missions Conference. Assuming our meeting goes well, they would then visit our full team in Osaka in the near future. Each of these three men have unique gifts that would make them effective leaders for our college. Please be in prayer as we meet with them and seek God's guidance in this critical BIG step forward.

Office/Classroom Space: as most of you know, we moved into our own space this past summer, remodeling and furnishing it to function as both our office and a small classroom. God provided a great location at a really good price, and all of that in a building owned by a Christian and with perhaps a third of the building's occupants that are either Christian ministries or Christian businesspeople.

ESL Certification: over the last few months, I and another team member have both completed courses to be certified as "English as a Second Language" teachers. As we work toward opening first an English school, and then the college, we want all of our teachers to be well-equipped to provide an excellent education to our students.

We are extremely grateful to God for these steps forward, and we trust that He is leading us in the path that He has determined for our ministry, and for His glory.


Events/Travel:

Nov. 9-12
I will be attending the PCA Global Missions Conferencein Dallas, TX later this week, and participating in two seminars -- "Single Serving: Life on the Mission Field as a Single Person," and "Do You Speak English?" focusing on various ways in which English can be used as a tool for the gospel. If you will be attending the conference, please look for me! I'll be spending much of my time at the Japan Partnership booth in the exhibit hall.



Prayer Points

Praise God that I passed the four week CELTA course in Seoul -- and that I survived a very busy four weeks. While certainly stressful, the course was very helpful in becoming a better teacher.

Praise God for THREE GIC presidential prospects! Praythat God will call one of these men to lead our college, and that we will see bigger steps toward fulfilling the vision we have to educate, equip, and empower young Japanese adults with not only an education, but also with the hope of the gospel.

Pray for unity on our team. As we have grown to a team of eight adult missionaries, each of us preparing for ministry in various ways (language school, teaching skills, recruiting, etc.), stress has been mounting. Pray that each person will be humble before God and with each other, each seeking to serve God and each other. Pray that we will be "known by our love" for one another (John 13:35).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

September 15, 2017

EVO English

The Genesis missionary team has been busy with normal things -- language school for many, church events, Genesis Cafe, etc. -- but we've also been working hard to develop an English school in our new office space. This is NOT yet the college, but rather a simple English school -- not an academic degree program. There are many English schools in Japan. We hope to differentiate ourselves with all native English-speaking teachers who are certified as teachers of English as a second language, and through a unique educational approach that focuses on "doing" rather than on memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules.

Our English school name will be "EVO English," with a tagline of "Everyday English for your evolving world."

Our goals for EVO include:
  • Equipping students with skills that will open new career opportunities;
  • For our students to have fun and enjoy learning English;
  • To establish a reputation for high-quality teaching that will help us when we eventually open the two-year college;
  • And of course, ultimately, we desire to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ, in order to extend this hope to our students.
I am enrolled in a four-week intensive course called "CELTA" so that I too can be a more qualified English teacher. This course will take place the first four weeks of October in Seoul, South Korea. Please pray for me as I live for a month in Seoul, and attend classes all day five days a week for four weeks.


 

MTW Leadership Meetings

As team leader for the Osaka Genesis team, I will be involved in MTW leadership meetings next week. Team leaders from around the world will gather with MTW leadership from Atlanta in Athens, Greece. Please pray that this will be a productive time for the gospel, and that there will be refreshment for many missionary leaders who are exhausted from their work.

In addition to our meetings and times of worship, we will have the opportunity to see some of the places where the Apostle Paul pastored churches.

Your prayers for my travel, and that of the other missionaries, is appreciated. I'm in the Osaka airport as I type this, about to fly through Beijing and Munich.

Prayer Points

Praise God for a good visit with a prospective GIC president in Osaka this past week! There are two others interested in this key leadership position, and we hope they can both visit our team in Osaka in the next several months. Please continue to pray that God will bring us the person of His choosing.

Pray for our new "EVO English" school -- for our curriculum planning, marketing, budgeting, teacher training, classroom preparation, and recruitment of students.

Pray for God to send new team members to fill the following ministry needs:
  • College president
  • College faculty
  • English teachers
  • Church planters
  • Others who can serve in a variety of creative capacities with our team.



PCA Global Missions Conference
It's not too late to register for the 2017 conference! Join 2,000 other Christians in worship and in learning about what God is doing around the world.

How can YOU be a part of His great commission? Prayer? Giving? Enabling those who go? Or maybe even find where God would have you go!

Register online here!



Calendar

Sept 15-23
MTW Leadership meetings
Athens, Greece

Oct 1-28
CELTA class
Seoul, South Korea

Nov 10-12
PCA Global Missions Conference
Dallas, TX

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 6, 2017

Genesis Rooted

We are thrilled to be moved into a new office space! Having our own space -- room for storage, our own desks where we can really spread out, etc. -- is a real blessing. Come January, this space will also become our first classroom.



Since moving in on May 15, we have:
  • stripped cigarette-stained wallpaper from one wall and painted it, along with another wall;
  • scrubbed the other two metal walls;
  • replaced carpet;
  • installed window blinds;
  • bought and assembled office furniture.
What remains to be done?  We still need the following:
  • student tables & chairs
  • whiteboard
  • projector
  • lectern
  • miscellaneous office and classroom supplies
  • hiring an electrician to split room lights to multiple switches (to darken part of the room for PowerPoint projection).
Our budget for this entire project is just $10,000. To date, 65% of this has been given. Will you help us complete this project by making a one-time donation to the Genesis Rooted campaign? You can give online by clicking here; or you can send a check to MTW at the address below (be sure to indicate that your contribution is for Genesis International College, acct #92888):

      Mission to the World
      P.O. Box 744165
      Atlanta, GA  30374-4165

Thank you for your partnership in bringing the hope of the gospel to the people of Osaka, Japan!


Global Missions Conference

God has equipped you with unique gifts for serving the Church. Are you a teacher, pastor, artist, doctor? A financial supporter or prayer warrior? Your gifts and skills are needed to further church-planting efforts worldwide!

Join me at the PCA Global Missions Conference, November 10-12 in Dallas, TX, to discover how you can help expand the reach of the Great Commission. We'll gather with over 2,000 fellow believers for worship, special music by Shane & Shane, and teaching by Kevin DeYoungLloyd Kim, and Michael Oh. Enlarge your understanding through over 80 seminars led by missions experts from all over the globe.

Register by July 31 for the lowest fee. Use the promotional code VIP2017 and receive an additional $10 discount off your registration fee!

Come early for Welcoming the Refugee, a timely pre-conference that will lead you to dive deep into this critical global need (November 9-10).

In conjunction with the Global Missions Conference, the Japan Partnership will be having several Japan-specific events including a lunch on Saturday and several seminars on Japan ministries.

Click here for more information and to register.


Prayer Points

Praise God for our new office/classroom space! Pray that we will soon be able to fully equip it for classes. And pray that God will be glorified through our ministry in this location -- that many students will find the hope of the gospel.

Pray for the continuing work of preparing to open an English school in January. There is much to be done: curriculum, teacher certification, marketing, looking into legal requirements with the government, etc.

Praise God for a good trip to the States in June. I attended the Honolulu Bible Conference, put on by Banner of Truth. Speakers included Derek Thomas (formerly of 1st PCA Jackson, MS but now in SC), Liam Goligher (10th PCA of Philadelphia), and John Rawlinson (Banner of Truth general manager). Aside from listening to accents of a Welshman, Irishman, and Englishman respectively, their messages were solid and challenging. My purpose in attending was as a recruiter of potential missionaries. Perhaps the two most likely contacts include a seminary student (of half Japanese ancestry), and one young lady recently graduated with a "teaching English as a second language" degree. Pray that God will draw these and/or other young people to labor in a mission field desperate for the hope of the gospel. In addition to recruiting in Hawaii, I spent time in Iowa with my mother, and traveled with her to my brother's family in Missouri.

Pray for a new college president. One of our two prospects has a trip to Osaka planned in September!

Pray for our Genesis Cafe events. After two years of strong participation, attendance has dropped significantly. Pray for us as we evaluate what we are doing, what we should change, or whether it is time to drop this ministry and focus on other efforts.



Culture Corner

Japan is a very safe country. But sometimes I'm still surprised by the differences in parenting. For example, it is completely normal for very young children to take the train by themselves to school. At a food court recently, a mom seated her two young children at a table next to me, gave them their food, and then left for more than five minutes to get her own food. The kids behaved perfectly, eating their noodles, and perhaps wondering about the strange looking guy at the table next to them!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 20, 2017

New Office/Classroom

We are excited to announce that we have keys to a new office! This is a true blessing from the Lord. The owner of the building is a Christian and is giving us a very good price. The location is across the street from the Osaka stock exchange, so it is the business center of Osaka and easily accessible from all parts of the city. Other tenants in the building include two different churches, Campus Crusade, and several other Christian organizations as well as a Christian lawyer. We even discovered a great restaurant on the first floor!

Our new space is large enough that we will be able to host smaller classes in here as well. In fact, we are actively working to develop an English school (a pre-cursor to the college) that will start in January 2018. Much is involved in this including: tax status, teacher certifications, marketing, curriculum development, etc. Please pray for us as none of us have experience in starting up a business or school.

Genesis Rooted Campaign

As Genesis International College gets rooted in our very own office/classroom, we need to renovate and furnish the space so that it is comfortable and appropriate for meeting with our students. Due to cigarette use by the previous tenants, the carpet must be replaced and the walls painted. Basic office furniture and equipment, as well as student tables and chairs must be purchased. To keep costs to a minimum, we will do most of the work ourselves. However, an electrician is required for some wiring, and a few other professionals may be needed as well.

Our budget to fully renovate and furnish the new space is $10,000. Would YOU help us meet this need? Would you make a one-time contribution to our "Genesis Rooted" campaign to help us get off the ground? We can't do this without the help of our partners.

To make a contribution, please email us at genesisrooted@genesiscollege.jp. Please include your name and amount you would like to pledge. You will then receive specific instructions for making your contribution. All donations are tax exempt. Thank you for your prayerful consideration!
 

Donations Address Change

MTW's donations address is changing (again). If you make contributions via check and mail, please note that the new address, as of June 1, is:
 
Mission to the World
P.O. Box 744165
Atlanta, GA  30374-4165

If you would like to simplify your giving, you can also make contributions via credit card or automatic bank withdrawals. I do this myself, for the missionaries I support, and have never had any issues with it. Please email me if you would like information about how to set this up.

Thank you for your faithful partnership in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Japan!



MTW Global Missions Conference

Make plans now to join me at the 2017 Global Missions Conference, November 10-12 in Dallas, TX.

Gather with over 2,000 fellow believers for worship, special music by Shane & Shane, teaching by Kevin DeYoung, Lloyd Kim, and Michael Oh. Expand your understanding through over 80 seminars led by missions experts from all over the globe!