Nurturing Resiliency through Emotional and Spiritual Care
“I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8 ESV
Need for a Compass
I am directionally challenged. If I tell my wife while driving to ‘turn right,' I really mean left. I am not the most reliable navigator. At times I find that I can be 'directionally challenged' in my walk of faith and ministry path as well and must intentionally put the Lord before me, as my compass and stabilizer. When I do that, I experience resiliency even in times of crisis.
How does this work out in ministry in Japan?
Here are a couple recent examples of being on the right side of a crisis…
From Burnout to Collaborative Church Planting
Two years ago, I began partnering with Pastor K. of Hokushin Calvary Church in Fukushima (NE Japan) to assist him in his vision to plant a church in the town of Ryozen. In March of 2016, he experienced burnout, due in part to five years of intensive relief work. It appeared that his dream was shattered.
Immediately, my role in the church changed to being a preacher, counselor and elder board coach. In September I began teaching a seminary extension class at the church on Soul Care, Spiritual Formation and Leadership. On the last Sunday to register for the class, Mr. and Mrs. Nowada showed up at church. They were tent-making church planters looking for a partnering church. They were impressed with the church's commitment to training.
Now ten months later, Pastor K has returned to the ministry, preaching once a month. The church elders met with the Nowadas in June to explore partnership possibilities. On July 2nd, we held our first church planting team meeting. It is no longer just the vision of the pastor, but a gifted team who can share their gifts in this strategic outreach to launch a daughter church. Hokushin has a vision to plant seven churches by 2025. This new effort would be number six. Founding Pastor Tomio Ohashi and Pastor K are both A2/Japan leader development graduates.
Need for Care Following a Crisis
A few days after completing my debriefing time with the Kyushu Christ Disaster Relief Center (Kyukisai) late in June, typhoon Nanmadol struck Northern Kyushu with torrential rain causing rivers to overflow and both roads and houses to be washed away. According to the Jiji Press, 22 people have died. Since the twin earthquakes of April 2016, and now typhoon Nanmadol, Kyukisai has hosted over 7700 volunteers.
During my time in Mashiki, Kyushu (SW Japan), I debriefed 12 Kyukisai relief staff members and three pastors. These same staff members are working hard to provide relief and emotional care to those impacted by this typhoon disaster. They have opened a new base center in Hita in Oita Prefecture to expand relief efforts.
Emotional and spiritual care of leaders is often a low-key, behind-the-scenes ministry, but one that attempts to nurture resiliency. More rain is on the way and this is typhoon season. Please pray for the ongoing relief efforts. A2/Japan is launching a church multiplication network in this region.
Pray that God, our Compass and Stabilizer, will move in the midst of crisis to expand His kingdom.
- Related story: Emotional Care Seminars and Pastor Retreats in Earthquake-devastated Kyushu Japan
- See John & Eriko Houlette’s staff profile here: http://www.asianaccess.org/houlette
John Houlette is an Asian Access missionary serving through Three Stream Ministries:
Three Stream Ministries (TSM) was to launch in April of 2011 to assist clergy and congregations to be whole, holy and missional. Three weeks before start up, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, changing the trajectory of the ministry. Over the next six years TSM has served over 400 pastors and leaders through retreats, getaways, training events, resources, preaching and active listening.