Japan (MNN) — Japan remains a challenging spiritual battleground, but Gospel workers say the Lord IS moving in the island nation.
“A lot of fear permeates the culture here: fear of natural disasters, fear of war, fear of the virus,” Eric Takamoto with Asian Access says.
There is much to be thankful to God for in the ministry highlights he brought our way in 2018. Below is a summary of encouraging progress from various ministry categories and missionaries serving in Japan...
We met at Fuller Seminary, sharing a common interest in Japan and missions. We were married in 1997 and continued moving forward toward our goal of serving overseas. Eric finished his Master of Divinity at Fuller, and then taught for two years at a charter school for troubled teens in southern California. Sue continued working on her degree, and served in Asian Access' U.S. office in staff development and human resources. Sue is from New Jersey and previously spent 3 years in Japan prior to getting married. Eric is from Hawaii and has done ministry in Brazil with a Japanese congregation.
Our hearts are committed to building significant relationships in the community of Ishinomaki through investing our talents, gifts, and lives. We hope to to see the residents here come to know and worship our Savior. We moved up to Ishinomaki in March 2012, one year after Japan's horrific triple disaster. And through Be One Network, we launched Nozomi Project—which helps to provide employment, dignity, biblical community and hope for women whose lives were broken by the disaster. Here is more about Nozomi Project:
Our children Owen, Annie, and Olivia, as well as our little Maltese Molly, have helped us in great ways to build relationships!
Before moving to Ishinomaki, we worked in Sanda, Japan. (Sanda is about 40 minutes from Osaka and Kobe). We served as Area Leaders in the Kansai Church Planting Network.
Prior to moving to Sanda in July 2004, we spent two years in Sendai, Japan at Sendai L'Abri Bible Church. Eric learned a lot about the church's outreach to children, and both of us learned about discipleship in Japan through a great program at our church there.
Pray expectantly, knowing that God delights in making our paths clear. He will not (usually) unfold the whole plan, but will always give you enough light to make the next step.
Go to an outside hotspring!
We love to be creative in doing ministry. We’ve used our hobbies (old ones and new ones!) to build relationships – bonsai, cloth-dying, even practical jokes! It's great that God takes who we are and wants to use us to do His work.
I (Sue) was at a farewell party in a church in Japan after I had spent a summer there. I was giving a farewell speech, being translated for the church by a proficient translator. The pastor and his wife had a darling 5 year old son (I was single at the time). I said in English, "I don't care how many years I have to wait, it's worth it to me if I can marry the Satos' son."
The translator translated. The pastor, his wife, and the congregation, were silent, and slowly turning green. So I repeated the sentence. The translator translated it again, hesitantly, looking at me to clarify. That time I caught what he said in Japanese: "I don't care how many years I have to wait, it's worth it to me if I can marry Sato - san." (San is the Japanese word for "Mr"). Needless to say, we all turned red, and laughed a lot after that!
We love loving the Japanese people. There's no greater joy to us. They are warm, and open, and often difficult to understand—but the blessings are way beyond any others that we know.