Rambling Notes from Japan
Here are some blog posts that we hope will make you feel a part of things, and help you understand how to pray better for us and Japan. Please see our external blog in Blogger, if this page does not display correctly.
From the beginning of our work in Kawasaki in 2001, our vision has been to start a small cluster of new churches outwardly focused and networked together for greater impact in this area. We believe a team is the best approach for the future. And we’re working to create one. We’ve laid out our rationale for all this in our vision booklet viewable online here: lavermansinjapan.org/vision
New TeammatesJustin & Lindsay Mitchell arrived in February, settling just “up the street” from us about 20 minutes away. Yes, there’s been some learning curves in food, shopping, hospital (Lindsay will have a baby in August), transport and financial services, also the tiny space in Tokyo, mail, garbage sorting (an ongoing mystery even for me - see lavermansinjapan.org/gomi) and so on. And the Japanese language will be a humbling adventure for years. But they’re adapting great.
Then during April, we hosted Gary & Jennifer Chang and kids here in Kawasaki for a two-week “vision trip.” They’re raising support and coming to Japan through WorldVenture in 2018 to join hands with us on this new team.
Bit by bit the team is forming, but we need others, too. Specifically, a full-time Japanese worker, an English speaker for TESL outreach (see lavermansinjapan.org/tesl), and more missionaries with expertise in music, media, youth, or kids ministry.
Protestant Christianity in Japan began just south of us in Yokohama bay in the 1860’s. But the number of churches has never kept up with the density of people and need. New churches are needed for the 5.2+ million in Kawasaki-Yokohama, 99% without Christ. Would you pray with us for the formation of this “mission possible” team for Japan?
Justen wants to serve God through his talent in design. Those of you who have seen his artwork know that he shows great potential. We look forward to seeing how the Lord will blend all these third-culture kid experiences, design skills and languages together for His glory through Justen in the future.
The first line was April 27 at Musashi- Kosugi station. I was wrestling to get the Chang family (see front) and their suitcases to the spot on the platform for the airport express, but the morning commuters were as thick as it gets. We were only able to move down the platform a few yards at a time after each train pulled out of the station, and before the next arrived. The video link above might help you understand.
A few days earlier I had viewed this station and Musashi-Kosugi area (our location for next church plant as God provides), with a visiting supporter from the 62nd floor of one of the many hi-rise apartments. Now I know where all those residents go in the morning. There needs to be an evangelical church witness for them!
The second line was May 4 at a shrine in Kamakura. Hundreds had rented a basket from the shrine to insert coins or bills to dip into the magic spring that multiplies prosperity. I took a video (above link) to give you an idea. Japan doesn’t need more prosperity. They need Christ! Superstitions can’t give what He offers freely.
Pray for Musashi-Kosugi. Pray that God will lead us to a person of peace through which to start a church in this neighborhood soon. Pray for them to put their affections not on the superstitions of this world, but on the work of Jesus Christ.
This short video was taken by a foreign customer who placed a running video camera on the conveyor belt. The clip makes for an interesting few minutes of people watching, and an inside peek at the kitchen at the heart of the sushi shop. Enjoy!
Japan in a Panic
After graduating from university, the company he worked for was changing over to a new system. Makoto threw himself into the extra work involved. He worked well into the night, missing the last train home. He would nap at a nearby sauna and be back in the office first thing in the morning. This went on for months.
One day on a train, when his exhaustion was at its peak, an ‘unpleasant feeling' came over him. His breathing quickened, his palms began to sweat, and he felt the urge to use the bathroom. Soon Makoto couldn't ride the subway to work anymore. Today, fearing a panic attack, he will not even go to a barber shop. Instead he has a stylist come to his home - for an additional fee. “My wife says it’s a waste of money,” he says. “A healthy person can't possibly understand. Imagine a person, who seems perfectly normal, and yet can't get on a train, or go to a barber shop.”
Makoto and many others in Japan suffer from a condition known as panic disorder (PD). Panic engulfs them. How many people are affected? Current estimates suggest up to 4 percent of the Japanese population. What is the solution for panicked Japanese people? The power of the Gospel. "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7).
Everything is Possible with God!
Mrs. Nakamura examined Christianity with us seriously, but seemed to be troubled by things. Then one day a breakthrough: “Kevin, I've been trying to understand Christ with just my head, but I know now that I need to accept Him with my heart...by faith.” From the house I assumed was lost to the clutches of Buddhism, God had been calling His child, Mrs. Nakamura for a long time. In our living room September 2007, He welcomed her to himself as she placed her faith in Jesus!
“Humanly speaking, it [missions in Japan] is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God!” Mark 10:27 NLT