A couple of Sundays ago, I got to preach God’s Word for the first time at Grace Harbor Church, and despite the fact that Japan was playing their first game at the World Cup during church, many people came to the worship service, including several non-Christian friends. Thanks to technology, we recorded the game and we were able to gather at our apartment and watch the game together after church. There were 43 people (counting the babies) in our small apartment! Although the result of the game was disappointing, we were very encouraged by the fact that God is blessing our church with wonderful friendships with people in our neighborhood that we are growing to love.
June 7, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, a kind lady Emma met at our kid’s ‘yochien’ (kindergarten) invited our family to a rice planting event that her husband’s company hosted. We thought it would be a unique cultural experience for us, so we went.
As you can see, the kids had a blast in the mud – for a while… The novelty of planting rice and the excitement of playing in the mud quickly dissipated within several minutes and they went off somewhere to do other, more exciting things. So the adult men (that’s right, the ladies chatted the whole time outside the field, staying clean!) had to finish planting the entire field by ourselves. As we engaged in this monotonous, back-breaking work for several hours, I started seeing many similarities between this work and the work that God has called us to do in Japan.
- Many hands make light work. If I were doing it by myself, I probably would have quit long before the task was done. I was glad I was doing it with other people! When the work got hard towards the end and no one was talking, someone would make some funny comments, and everyone would laugh and it made the hard task seem bearable and even fun. I’m grateful to God for the team that we get to be a part of at Grace Harbor Church. Engaging in the task of planting gospel seeds in Tokyo with its population of 36 million people seems like an overwhelming task, but “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” with brothers and sisters who are committed to the work brings encouragement and joy. We’re praying for more workers!
- A vision of the harvest sustains you. When the task of planting rice was especially hard, I imagined the harvest time when the full grains of rice would be harvested and enjoyed. That vision of the harvest made the task of planting seem rewarding. God is “the Lord of the harvest,” and I trust He will use our efforts in planting and bring about the harvest of people bring brought into His kingdom. We did enjoy a full bowl of delicious rice for lunch afterwards, and I look forward to the days when, by God’s grace, we will enjoy the fruit of our labor for the gospel.
- God is the One who makes things grow. As we were planting rice, I realized how bizarre it was that this tiny plant that looks like plain old weed would grow and produce the delicious rice that I so enjoy. God causes the sun to rise and provides the rain (By the way, here is a great little meditation on rain by John Piper) and causes things to grow. Even if we try our best to plant, the fruit is ultimately up to God to provide. A spiritual new birth is something that only God can provide, and when it happens, it is a wonder to behold. He alone has the power to do it, and with confidence in His power to make things grow and produce fruit, we want to remain faithful to plant.
Just a few thoughts after that long and fulfilling day in the mud and sunshine…