I’m back! Got in yesterday, and though I am a little tired, I am so incredibly charged, encouraged, and inspired. I can’t wait to get on with all that God has in store for us. What has me so motivated is all that I experienced on my short trip to Japan. Oh, by the way, thank you for praying for me. I had left feeling kind of sick, but hardly coughed and felt better every day. Thank you for praying.
The main purpose of my trip was to build a relationship with the Sendai Evangelical Free Church and Pastors Yoshida and Kadotani (their pastors). We as a church desire to partner with national churches all over the world to learn from them, partner in ministry with them, and join them in seeing people come to know Jesus and grow in their faith. I also went to view some of the disaster sights, and see how God is at work in and through Christians in Japan. And is He ever!
People in Japan are more open than ever to consider Jesus. They are more open not so much due to the earthquake and tsunami, though that has wrenched many to a place of desperate need. They are not more open to Christ because of some slick evangelistic crusade. They are not more receptive to the salvation message of Jesus because of a greater influx of foreign missionaries. No, the people of Japan are more interested and open to Jesus because those who are already Christian have chosen to be more like Jesus.
Pastors and church members are stepping up and choosing to be like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 (why not go and read Luke 10:30-37). At the end of verse 37 Jesus says this…
Luke 10:37 …”You go, and do likewise.”
And many of the Believers in Japan are doing just that. They are volunteering and helping people clean up the mud and debris left as the flood waters ravaged their homes. These responsive servants of God are helping families rebuild, distribute food, provide aid, and sit with the thousands who have lost loved ones. Godly men and women and young people and people well into their old age who love God are choosing to be like Jesus.
Matthew 9:35-36 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
These Christian are choosing not to stay in the comfort and ease of their own towns and cities, but to branch out to those areas hardest hit by the tsunami, many traveling miles to help those in need. They are being like Jesus who went throughout cities and villages to share, to heal and to help people.
These Christ-followers are choosing not to sequester themselves to their own little Christian friends and church, but to get out and interact with their non-Christian community. They are choosing to be like Jesus who went to the community centers (the synagogues) to interact with those who did not believe in Him.
These courageous Believers in Jesus are taking on His heart of compassion and not just seeing ministry as the verbal word of what Jesus did and how to have faith in them, but they are loving like Jesus in practical ways. They are bringing food and helping with what is needed; cleaning, building, or just sitting and hearing their horrific story. They are not cramming a slick gospel tract down their throat or making sure they get out the full plan of salvation. They are not trying to turn the conversation to Christ. They are simply loving them…let that soak in for a moment. No hidden agendas, no bait and switch, no ulterior motives…just to care because Jesus does.
Now what is happening is that people all over Japan (a primarily Buddhist country) are seeing this out-pouring of love from Jesus-followers and an interest is sparked. People wonder who is this Jesus that has such a positive influence on people that people who follow Him are choosing to be kind, caring, nice, and giving. And when questions arise the answer is given and people are coming to faith in Jesus!
So here’s a question to ponder…What are you choosing to be? The Bible tells us we are to choose to be more like Jesus (look up Romans 8:29 and 1 Peter 2:21). To guide us along in this we are starting this Sunday a spiritual growth focus (aka a campaign) called More Like Jesus. Justin will be emailing soon with more details, but let me encourage you to get involved. There are three basic elements; Sunday Services, Community Life Groups, and Daily Devotions. I’m praying you will choose to be involved.
Choosing to be More Like Jesus with you,
P.S. I will be sharing more detailed stories from Japan this Sunday to come.