Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some thoughts

It may take some time to fully understand the reasons for this trip and the events that it has put in motion. Let me mention some of the interesting things we have seen and experienced.

One of the more significant places we visited was a medium sized Shinto shrine near our hotel. Jonathan and I were walking back from church on Sunday when I felt like we should go visit. We walked around a bit, but didn't find anything in English to tell us about it. Once we got back to the hotel and researched it, we found that it houses a deity that is the protector of Tokyo, and maybe the Imperial Palace. On Monday, before we went and prayed at the Imperial Palace, we stopped by this shrine and prayed. We didn't pray *to* the shrine like folks normally do there, but we walked around and prayed to God. I feel that this was significant.


Among other things, we have been reading a lot about the history of Japan. I believe a lot of the history has spiritual significance. I think that by knowing this history and praying accordingly, God's kingdom can be grown more effectively here in Japan.


We had the privilege of hearing the general director of New Life League who spoke about a Christ-centered Manga (Japanese comic book) that they have published. In Japan, teens as well as adults read Manga. The top seller is a 486 page weekly magazine which sells 3.2 million copies every week. This organization has published a couple of Manga which they hope to reach folks who might not otherwise hear the gospel. Manga is also popular in most Asian and many Western countries, so they are distributing them overseas too.

We also heard about mobile phone ministry opportunities. Some stats: 69 million Japanese access the internet on their mobile phones...more than the number of regular PC internet users. The average high school student uses their mobile for 2 hours a day...a lot of it is mobile email use. It is their primary communication tool. Churches are starting to create mobile web sites which will probably end up being used much more than normal web sites.

It has been a good trip. God is good. It was a great blessing to have Jonathan with me. I hope that we will be able to return together sometime in the future. We have many things to pray about for the future of Japan and our role in that. Thank you for all your prayers and your financial support as well.

Jonathan has left the building


Jonathan has started his long trek back home. In addition to missing his valuable friendship over the next couple of days, I'm going to have to rely on my own blogging and photography. He has been doing such a good job. I've been slack and not written anything in a while and taken very few photos. If you've missed his posts, they can be found here on his blog.
After seeing him off on the Airport Limousine Bus (which sounds nicer than it really is), I went and did some laundry. I hope to follow this brief post later today with a longer, more interesting post. We'll see...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday

Thursday morning we relaxed and gave our feet some time to recover. In the afternoon we went to the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association offices at the Ochanomizu Christian Center. Some folks were there working so we pitched in. We helped collate, count pages, and bind the meeting materials for the JEMA 2009 Plenary Session which is next Tuesday.

But more importantly we met some interesting folks and established some friendships. We will be going back to the OCC Monday night for fellowship and Tuesday for the Plenary Session. We normally wouldn't be allowed to attend the Plenary Session without being members, but God worked it out that the President of JEMA was there and since we helped put together the materials, he said we could sit in on the meeting. :) We hope to meet some other missionaries there and build more friendships.

Here are a couple of pictures from the JEMA office. Note the finely bound session materials on the table.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jonathan's blog

Here's a link to Jonathan's blog about our trip. He has a penchant for writing, so it will probably be a bit more descriptive.

http://xsandos.blogspot.com/

Tuesday and Wednesday

On Tuesday, we spent most of the day at the National Diet Library. We looked at quite a few post-war documents on microfiche. It was quite interesting. I perused the 22 volume set of documents from the Tokyo Tribunals where the war criminals were tried. For dinner, we ate at an English pub.

On Wednesday, we spent some time at the Imperial Palace Plaza praying.



Then we sat on the Yamanote line and rode in a circle around Tokyo and prayed.

After that, we had a lovely lunch at a Italian restaurant.

We spent the whole afternoon at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. (Edo was the former name of Tokyo.)

For dinner we ate at KFC.

We have been doing a lot of walking...my feet and legs are really feeling it. We may spend the morning tomorrow just relaxing/reading in the hotel room.

That's all for now. おやすみ なさい。

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Motorcade

Here is a picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade from our 14th floor hotel room. She is in one of the white SUVs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First Day

On our first day we walked...and walked...and walked. We went by the National Diet building and found an obscure park. In the park was this:



From what I can find it is called the 'benchmark of Japan' and was used as a datum for measuring sea level and position in Japan. The details are sketchy, but I hope to find out more about it later.

We then walked to the Imperial Palace area.







We then took a train to visit a museum, but it was closed. :( We did find a few interesting statues nearby.







I'm still trying to find out why Tokugawa Ieyasu in the picture above is riding on a turtle. I couldn't find anything about that on the Internet.

That's all for now. I hope to provide more interesting posts later. This morning we are heading to a library to do some reading.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We made it!

Jonathan and I are in the hotel after a *long* day of travel. Our travels went extremely smooth...flights were smooth, going through immigration/customs was fast. Praise God! Now we just have to stay up for a few hours so we can get on schedule. We're 14 hours ahead of EST.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The adventure continues...

I and my friend Jonathan are heading to Japan tomorrow! I'll be posting our adventures to this blog over the next 2 weeks. Check back soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back home

I'm back in the states now. Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Elijah Group Symposium

I attended the Elijah Group Symposium 2007 at the OCC. There was a panel of speakers and a group of around 40 pastors/missionaries/etc. Mizuko (a very nice Christian lady who works at JEMA) was kind enough to translate a lot of the meeting for me. Just about everything that was said by the speakers was what God has shown me over the last few weeks while I was here in Japan. One guy talked about postmodernism. Check. One guy talked about cell churches. Check. One guy talked about the Yasukuni shrine. Check. Social issues. Check. Church history in Japan. Check. Body of Christ. Check.

So, now what? I think I have some observations that I need to share with folks here in Japan. Pray as I seek out my next step.

Naritasan

Naritasan is a large Buddhist temple area near the Narita International Airport in Japan. Here's a video of a small portion of the grounds.

video

The main deity worshiped here is Fudo Myoo...the 'immovable one' and protector of Buddhism. Here's a picture of some folks praying to an image of him.



At the main temple, I was able to see a Goma rite. From the temple's web site:


The Goma rite is a mysterious temple service in which we pray to Fudomyoo, the main deity of Naritasan Temple, for the fulfillment of our wishes. A chief priest burns Gomasticks with various burnt offerings, The fire, a symbol of the wisdom of Fudomyoo, extinguishes our earthly passions, which are symbolized by the sticks, and brings us to a higher state of mind to win the virtues and favors of Fudomyoo.


The chief priest started a fire on a gold altar in the middle of the temple. There was chanting and a big drum that was played occasionally. The priests would gather purses, bags, and other things from the audience of around 200 people, and wave them over the fire and then return them.

Quite creepy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My schedule

My schedule is currently this:

Tomorrow I check out of my hotel and take the train into Tokyo. (I'm currently in Yokohama. Yokohama is to Tokyo as Cary is to Raleigh...except Yokohama is 5 times the area of Cary and 20 times the population.) In Tokyo, I'm going to the Ochanomizu Christian Center, where I'm told (by Mizuko-san) there is going to be a meeting of Japanese pastors...in Japanese. I have no idea how many (maybe just a couple), if I'll get to meet them, or maybe talk to them, or maybe speak to them, or what. Pray that I will be open to whatever God has for me there.

Of my adventures so far, I feel like God is showing me a few things hindering a big 'revival' here. First is the stronghold of Buddhism...not just that a lot of folks practice it...but an actual big bad spiritual thingy. Second is that there has been no acknowledgment, on a country wide level, of the atrocities (and I do use that word in the strongest way possible...please don't research the atrocities unless you are very prepared mentally) that have been perpetrated by Japanese in the past wars...and possibly before. Those I think are the big 2. I'll post more as God reveals things to me.

After the meeting tomorrow, I will travel out to a hotel near the airport. There I will stay 2 nights and then fly home Wednesday! Yippee!!! Tuesday, I'll visit a shrine near my hotel...which I think has to do with the big bad spiritual thingy. More on that later.

--David

Chinese Church

Today I went to a Chinese Church in Yokohama. I arrived at 10:30 and left at 5pm. From 9:30 - 10:45 was a Japanese language service. 11:00 was the Chinese service, with a Japanese interpretor, which ended about 12:30. There were maybe 20-30 folks in the Japanese service (mainly 2/3/4th generation Chinese who live in Japan who don't know Mandarin) and probably 150-200 in the other service. The message was on Psalm 16. I don't know what the pastor said, but I did hear a few words in English, like "Jimmy Carter" and "peanut." There were hymns, again mainly Western hymns sang in Chinese. Whenever there was scripture to be read, the entire congregation read it together out loud...the verse was on an overhead projector. The pastor was probably in his 70's, but was very animated and seemed to be very nice.

After church was lunch at the church. I don't know if that is every week or not. At that time I was hooked up with a guy who was my interpretor for the rest of the day. Lunch was rice, soup, pickles (not like you're thinking), some sort of smelly fish, and something else I can't remember.

After lunch, the group broke up into various groups...some to practice music, some to take care of kids, and I was with about 9-10 folks in a small group. We sang a few songs. One was a English song, but the words were in Chinese, so I tried to remember the English words and remembered some, but not all. After the songs, we had cake for the ones who had a birthday over the last couple of months. They had candles on the cake and they sang Happy Birthday in Chinese and then in English (probably for me). After that, folks gave their testimonies on how they came to know God and what they were feeling in their lives. One guy there wasn't a Christian, and they talked to him a while and answered his questions. The spirit was moving! It was really cool.

Afterwards, we went to Denny's for dinner. One of the guys who ate with me knew English really well, Chinese natively, and could speak a lot of Japanese and a little German. He offered to pay my dinner, so I said thank you in Chinese, Japanese, English, and German. :) It is amazing how many people I've met that know at least 3 languages...and Asian languages at that!

One of the guys said something interesting. He said that he thought that Communism coming to China was in a way *good* for the church...and before you judge that hear the explanation. He said that Communism helped destroy a lot of the religion (Buddhism) in the country, which helped the people be ready for the gospel. An interesting thought at least. Right now, the estimated number of Christians in China widely varies, but some estimates are around 100 million. It may be soon (if not already) that there are more Christians in China than the US.

While I've been here, I've been to a Western/Japanese church, a Western church, a pure Japanese church, and a Chinese church. Of all those, I felt the love of God most in the Chinese church.

It is also interesting on the questions that people ask when they meet you. In one church, it was only 'where are you from' and 'why are you here.' All folks ask that. In another church is was 'Are you from a Christian family', which was an interesting question. In another church and with other folks I've met, it has been 'what is your church background' or 'what type of church do you go to.' In the Chinese church, it was 'are you a Christian' and 'how long have you been a Christian.' They were, I think, about the only ones to ask if I was actually a Christian! Let's think in our lives...how many people do we see every day or work with every day, do we ask 'are you a Christian?'

Are you a Christian? Have you really met the one true God? Have you been low, or lonely, or felt empty, or felt that life was pointless, or felt that you needed something miraculous in your life? Have you just cried out to God and told Him? He has a way to change your life. By Himself coming to the earth, living a perfect life as a human, being killed, and coming back to life, we can meet Him. I have. In English, His name is Jesus. In Japanese, it is Iesu (or Kirisuto). In Chinese...I can't pronounce it. :) I'm not going to tell you what to say to Him or what to do. When you are introduced to someone, they don't tell you 'say this and that' or 'do this and that.' It is a relationship you have to have with the person. So go for it...just start talking and listen. One good way to listen, other than listening to the still small voice you hear, is to read the Bible...He's already said quite a bit. Things like "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

--David

Friday, September 14, 2007

Prime Minister of Japan

On the same day I went to the Yasukuni shrine, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe unexpectedly resigned. It looks like the person that will replace him will be Yasuo Fukuda, which "One of his most noted policy goals is to end prime ministerial visits to the Yasukuni Shrine." Interesting.

Doesn't this look tasty?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yasukuni

I went to Yasukuni Shrine and the nearby museum yesterday. The shrine is the place that the Japanese foreign ministers go to that causes much controversy. The shrine is said to be home to all the spirits of the 'noble souls' who have given their lives for Japan in recent history, which numbers around 2.5 million according to their website. All the names are on a big list kept by the priests. Part of the controversy is that some of the folks convicted of war crimes are on the list.

The museum there is quite interesting. Even though it claims that "the truth of modern Japanese history is now restored," it has some interesting twists (and omissions) on the history we know. (Maybe our museums are like that too.) For instance, the Japanese claim that they were conquering Asia to keep the peace there and to keep westerners out.

There was a train engine on display that was used on the Thailand-Burma Railway during the war. Of course, it fails to mention the quarter million people (forced laborers and POWs) who built it and the over 100,000 of those who died because of it.

Photographs in the museum were not allowed. :(

Here's the shrine:



There was a memorial outside the museum of Radhabinod Pal. He was one of the judges of the war crimes tribunal and gave a dissenting opinion. He believed that the atrocities happened, he just felt that the tribunal was unfair. More can be read here.

I also took the tour of the Imerial Palace grounds, but it was less than interesting. We couldn't even see the actual palace building...just the buildings in front of it. But here are some (not that great) pictures anyway.



It looked like a storm was coming the whole time...they passed out umbrellas to everyone just in case it rained.



--David

Monday, September 10, 2007

Misc. things

Some miscellaneous things.

I found out the Krispy Kreme in Shinjuku is currently the only on in Japan. It still had a long line today so I didn't stop by. A dozen original glazed is 1500 yen or just over $13.

I still have been getting pastries from the bakery in the station. I can't quite read the Japanese...and I accidentally got a 'curry' filled doughnut. Not *at all* what I was expecting.

I found a cheap Tempura shop in the basement of one of the department stores next to the hotel. I can get vegetable tempura, rice, and water for about $8. I'm just not a seafood person. I feel ashamed coming to Tokyo and not liking seafood or sushi. :) I did eat some sashimi (plain raw fish) the other evening...not too bad. I mainly don't like the seaweed in the sushi.

I bought this



the other evening. I can read the Japanese word for chocolate, which is what the center part is. I was thinking the bun part would be some sort of cookie, but the buns actually have a sesame seed taste which is really strong. :(

Here's my hotel room from the door looking to the window



and from the window looking back to the door



The weird thing is this. Almost all the 'business' hotels I've been in around Tokyo have a 'single piece' preconstructed bathroom. The tub, sink, toilet are all in a room that is one big piece of fiberglass. This hotel is no different.



But in every other hotel, this has been near the door. In this hotel, it is on the outside wall. Actually, the whole bathroom is about halfway sticking out of the hotel...the window actually is about halfway back from the end of the bathroom.



The tub is in the outmost part of the bathroom, so when I'm in the shower, my brain thinks I'm hanging out of the hotel and if a earthquake was to hit, I feel like the entire bathroom would break off and fall to the ground. :)

But on the bright side, the toilet has a bidet, seat warmer, and deodorizer built in. :) God bless the Japanese.

In Japan, a majority of weddings these days are "Christian" weddings. Parents pay ungodly amounts of money to have a wedding at a hotel, where the hotel has built special chapels just for weddings. They supposedly hire Christian ministers to do the service. There's a mission field for ya. Here's a wedding in progress at Odaiba when I was there a week or so ago.


When walking around not knowing where I was going one day, I walked by this sign. If you click on this picture and read the text (kind of difficult) you can read about of on the "new-religions" in Japan. There seem to be a lot of folks looking for a real religion or a real God.


I would post their website, but you have better things to do with your time. They are just *way* out there.

And here's the latest in exercise equipment. You ride it like a horse and it strengthens abs, thighs, buttocks, etc. I personally haven't seen these in the states...I'm not sure if they would sell well. Anyone want me to ship one back? :)

video

Actually, you can order one yourself! God bless the Internet.

--David

Jacob Daniel DeShazer

Kerri had the TV on the other night and just happened to hear about this guy.

http://www.doolittleraider.com/raiders/deshazer.htm

He is an American WWII veteran who, after being tortured by the Japanese as a POW, went back to Japan as a missionary. Wow...if that ain't the love of Christ working, then what is? Guess where he was being held when the Japanese guards actually let him read a bible? Nanking.

The web page above is lengthy, but well worth the read. At least read this part from the web page above:


I begged my captors to get a Bible for me. At last, in the month of May, 1944, a guard brought me the book, but told me I could have it only for three weeks.

I eagerly began to read its pages. Chapter after chapter gripped my heart. In due time I came to the books of the prophets and found that their every writing seemed focused on a divine Redeemer from sin, One who was to be sent from heaven to be born in the form of a human babe. Their writings so fascinated me that I read them again and again until I had earnestly studied them through six times. Then I went on into the New Testament and there read of the birth of Jesus Christ, the One who actually fulfilled the very prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and the other Old Testament writers.

My heart rejoiced as I found confirmed in Acts 10:43, "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His Name, whosoever believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins." After I carefully read this book of the Acts, I continued on into the study of the epistle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome.

On June 8, 1944 the words in Romans 10:9 stood out boldly before my eyes: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

That very moment, God gave me grace to confess my sins to Him and He forgave me all my sins and saved me for Jesus' sake. I later found that His Word again promises this so clearly in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

How my heart rejoiced in my newness of spiritual life, even though my body was suffering so terribly from the physical beatings and lack of food! But suddenly I discovered that God had given me new spiritual eyes and that when I looked at the enemy officers and guards who had starved and beaten my companions and me so cruelly, I found my bitter hatred for them changed to loving pity.

I realized that these people did not know anything about my Savior and that if Christ is not in a heart, it is natural to be cruel. I read in my Bible that while those who crucified Jesus had beaten Him and spit upon Him before He was nailed to the cross, on the cross He tenderly prayed in His moment of excruciating suffering, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

And now, from the depths of my heart, I too prayed for God to forgive my torturers, and I determined by the aid of Christ to do my best to acquaint these people with the message of salvation that they might become as other believing Christians.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Church

I went to an indigenous Japanese church this morning...meaning it was started by Japanese(about 60 years ago) and not by Western missionaries. There were about 200 people (men & women) in the main room where I was, and the children were in a room next door. We met in a office building in the financial section of Tokyo. Of course, it was not in English, but they were nice and had someone there to give me brief interpretations of what was being said.

To enter the room, you took off your shoes and put them in a bag to carry them with you. Most folks had nice cloth bags they brought, but they had some extra plastic bags. In the room, everyone sat on the floor, with the exception of some elderly folks and me in the back. The men sat on the left and the women on the right. At the front was a podium, with a large Japanese flag on the wall behind it with scripture and things to the left, right, and above it. Next to the podium was a menorah.

There was a time of singing, testimonies, and bible teaching. Still, the songs were mainly western hymns with Japanese lyrics. The teaching today was on Christ being the light of the world. The meeting lasted about 2.5-3 hours.

After church I went to lunch with a few guys who spoke English pretty well and we had a long talk. They have some weird beliefs...or at least some of them do. They do seem to agree that Christ is the only way to God and that He died as a sacrifice for our sins and that what really matters is our relationship with Him.

So I'm back to the question of the church and our beliefs. What 'facts' that we have in our head can disqualify us from being in the body of Christ? As long as we have a *true* relationship with Him, He should be able to guide us into all truth in due time. So do these folks have a true relationship with Christ? It seemed that way, but I'm not sure. Communication is an issue...even with English speakers as their culture makes communication hard. (That's a long story...maybe another post.) They have strange views on some things, but they seemed to be experiencing God. I hope to communicate with them further in email. I was able to share how Christ was working in my life, and I encouraged them in their walk and got them thinking about some things.

I don't want to fall into the trap of not pointing out or disagreeing with blatantly wrong doctrines and sin. I don't want to tolerate things that Christ Himself wouldn't tolerate. But I don't want to judge folks initially out of self-righteousness or pride and not be able to guide them into what is right. As my (and Jon's) earlier posts discussed, we can't just run around telling everyone how wrong they are without having a relationship with them first. Maybe there are those who are called to do that...and maybe that's the apostolic calling.

Anyway, if these folks are indeed in Christ, my initial impression is that they are babes, but again it is hard to tell. They would choke on meat...they need milk first, but then again you can't stand by and let them eat poison either.

We'll see how God leads me as I chat with them via email or visit again.

--David

Saturday, September 8, 2007

More history

I went to Yokohama today and visited Chinatown...one of the world's largest...to see if I could find some tasty food. (I did, but it cost 2500yen...about $24...and there was no fortune cookie.) Anyway, I picked up a map with a brief history of the area. The named was changed to Chinatown in 1955...before that the Japanese called it Nankin-machi which means Nanjing town. :)

I have been doing some more reading of Japanese history. Remember how some of the first Christians were Catholic priests? Remember how there was a law passed to expel all Christians? There was a Protestant man from Britain named William Adams who found favor with the Shogun named Tokugawa Ieyasu. Actually, Ieyasu wouldn't let him leave...so he was forced to live and advise him, but he received benefits and prospered (much like Joseph in the bible).

From Wikipedia:


Adams, a Protestant, was seen as a rival by the Portuguese and other Catholic religious orders in Japan. When he and his crew arrived on the Liefde, the Jesuits settled in Nagasaki became very anxious as they had informed the Japanese, inaccurately in fact, but not necessarily in their belief, that all Europe was united under a single, undisputed church. Because of the fear that Adams would shed light on the truth, the Jesuits conspired against him, asking forcefully for his crucifixion at first, then having him imprisoned when Ieyasu refused to kill Adams for no reason.

...

Ieyasu, influenced by Adams' counsels and social trouble caused by the numerous Catholic converts, expelled the Jesuits from Japan in 1614 and demanded the Japanese Catholics abandon their faith.


This account is interesting. Because after that, Adams was still allowed to stay...and he was a Christian (supposedly). I'd like to read more about that.

There are different accounts, but could it be that the division of the church at that time was one of the contributing factors of the closing of Japan?

--David

Friday, September 7, 2007

Museum

Friday I went to the Tokyo Nation Museum in Ueno. I saw a big exhibit of Zen buddist stuff from about 600-800 years ago. I also saw the Japanese Archaeology Gallery there. There was also a very small section for Christianity in Japan back before the Meiji period (before the mid 1800's).

Brief history. Christianity came to japan in the 1500's mainly by Catholic folks. It was so transforming of the people, the rulers had it squashed. Over the next few hundred years, Christianity was outlawed and Christians were required to leave, recant or be tortured and/or killed. 26 Christians were crucified in Nagasaki.

You can read more at Wikipedia and other places.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Interesting Events

Hi folks...I survived the Typhoon. :) It came in the middle of the night, so I didn't actually see it. It was rainy with strong wind gusts yesterday. When I went out for my bedtime snack to Starbucks, the train station was full of folks stranded due to the shinkansen trains being suspended.

Anyway, yesterday I went to visit Mr. Masuda at the OCC. (See this post for background info.) He actually knew Miss Smith and she told him to take care of the property after she left Japan. We discussed a few things and I asked him about why there weren't many Japanese coming to Christ. He had been wondering the same thing and was asking God himself. He also mentioned that there is a growing thought that Japan should move away from parts of its constitution dealing with having only a self defense force. They are primarily concerned with North Korea.

I have been wondering if the lack of the gospel spreading was due to some spiritual barriers. Last night, I had a dream. It was a very short dream about an oriental (Chinese) looking man who said his name was Nanking. I hadn't heard of Nanking, so I didn't know if it was Nan King or Nanking. I searched the web this morning and was startled to read about the worst war atrocities by the Japanese in a city in China called Nanking (or Nanjing). If you want to read about it, you can find many places on the web, but I warn you: some of the things you will read about will be very disturbing...even some of the pictures at wikipedia. There is a memorial hall in Nanjing built for the memory of those who died...estimated (and the estimations vary widely) to be around 300,000. A few of the things I read about I wouldn't be able to repeat...pure evil. I have continued to cry when thinking about it at various times this morning.

The events there at Nanking have been a sticking point between many Asian nations and Japan...especially China. Japan consistently denies much of it, even though there are many witnesses and even some old video footage. There is actually a film that just came out this year, and will be released in the US in December. I'm not sure if I could go see it. In Nanjing, there were some western folks (and missionaries) who decided to stay after foreigners were warned to leave. There were about 22 of them who helped protect many people from the Japanese army and also helped the wounded. There are a lot of stories there, which I think the film tries to capture.

Anyway, I continue to pray and read about what all this means. Please pray for me as I try to sort all this out.

--David

Typhoon

Typhoon's a comin'.

Another link.

It shouldn't be bad...it will come during the night as I'm sleeping. It has been a little windy/rainy at times today.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Japan Harvest

Today was a day of rest. :) I only left the hotel for breakfast and lunch/dinner (I seem to eat a big meal mid day and a small bedtime snack.) The rest of the time I was reading books or things on the internet. I think I read for about 10 hours today. I read some in the bible, some things on the internet, some magazines called "Japan Harvest," etc.

It seems that, generally speaking, the Western missionaries here in Japan are banging their head against a wall because that can't get many people to come to Christ. There are cultural things that get in the way of Western church ideas, but as far as I can tell, the Holy Spirit is what draws folks to Christ and He's doing very little here. Why is that? From what I hear, the church in China is *huge*, the biggest church in the world is in Korea, they fill up stadiums with Christians in Africa, the church is growing rapidly in parts of India, etc. Why isn't the Spirit moving in Japan? Are there spritual strongholds that have to fall first? A wild idea I just had, could it be spirits displaced from other places are moving to Japan? (I guess they gotta go somewhere.)

Japan was *so* open in the 50's after the war. MacArthur put out a call for missionaries to come over ASAP...and many came. He called for as many bibles as could be printed...and they were delivered. And yet, never (from what I have read) was there a true 'revival' of large numbers of people as elsewhere. Yes, many Japanese people have been saved. Yes, God is working here. But there seems to be a big spiritual barrier here and no one seems to know what it is exactly...at least I don't know.

I've read articles about the best way to share the gospel, the best format of church ('standard' church, home church, cell church), best groups to 'target', etc. But the bottom line is not our methods, it is the Holy Spirit. Lots of people have ideas of how to do things better.

One writer wrote:

Are we reproducing followers of "Christian religion" -- in which people go through the motions and follow the rituals? Or are we reproducing believers who walk closely with the Master and become more and more excited about who He is, about the salvation He has brought, and about all that He is and gives? Believers like these will have lives that overflow, and I am convinced this is what we need in order to see a change in Japan.

--David

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Food for thought

Here's some text from a Japanese Christian from many years ago:

=================================

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." (Revelation 5:12) This is my faith; I believe in this God alone and worship Him in spirit and truth.
I do not place my faith in dogma or in doctrine. Neither do I have faith in miracles or mystical experiences. I am an alien to faith in the Church, faith in the cross, faith in the resurrection, faith in speaking in tongues, and faith in divine healing. I cannot consider those dogmas and experiences objects of my faith.
The primary question of faith ought to be "Whom do I believe?" and not "What do I believe?" The object of my faith should not be an event such as the crucifixion and the resurrection but God Himself standing behind these events. Just as Paul did, I also say, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (I Corinthians 2:2)

We Should not stake our faith upon a merely intellectual theory of the cross - a futile playing with words. A theory of redemption does not save us, but the redeeming blood of the Lord does.

==================================

Do we sometimes cheapen the gospel and merely expect people to mentally consent to the facts of the gospel without actually teaching about a supernatural encounter with the most high God through His son Jesus? Does 2 Timothy 3 describe us?

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

From Matthew 23:

23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Are we mere teachers of the law and full of greed and self-indulgence? Do we truly take up our cross daily and walk with Jesus? Do we really do things out of love? Do we show mercy to others, just as Christ shows us mercy every day? Is repentance preached these days? Do we offer our bodies as living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship?

Why do I ask so many questions? :)

I'm just thinking out loud...my daily verbal communication has gone way down over the last 2 weeks, so I need to just get my thoughts out. :)

I went to Tokyo Tower today, but other than that, I've been reading. I read a book about spiritual strongholds in Japan, and I'm reading another on religion in Japan written by a Christian anthropologist. Quite interesting...and some of the things in the Japanese culture are completely foreign to my upbringing. I'll probably post on that later.

--David

Monday, September 3, 2007

Breakfast

Yes Doug, I found someplace besides McDonald's. :)

I found a bakery in the train station next to the hotel that has lots of pastries and is fairly cheap. I was able to get 2 pastries and some milk for about $4. Quite tasty. I had one of these and something else like a creme filled doughnut...sort of.

--David

Interesting Day

After posting, getting ready, and eating breakfast (yes...McDonald's), I was going to do some reading in my bible, but I felt like I should head over to the Ochanomizu Christian Center (OCC).

A little background. Back in the early 1900's, an Irish woman named Irene Webster-Smith felt called to Japan. I read her life story in a book called "Sensei: The life store of Irene Webster-Smith." The book details miracle after miracle (and I mean true miracles) in her life and how God used her to reach many in Japan. After WWII, she even lead 14 of the worst war criminals in Japan to Jesus right before they were executed. They went to their execution singing hymns! Anyway, she bought a piece of property in Tokyo (through yet more miracles...2 other folks were bidding on the property and she gave the *lesser* bid and it was accepted) and started a student center there. The property is now OCC, which houses many Christian organizational offices.

One of the organizations there is the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). That was one that I felt led to go to. So I walked in this morning and spoke with an older lady name Mizuko-san. She was very nice and I mentioned Sensei Smith. It just so happened that the President of the OCC stopped by and I got to go in a back room where, among books and other things, there was a portrait of Sensei Smith. Very cool. They said that there is some talk of doing more ministry at the location...since they have been mainly office space. They want to get back to the original vision of ministering to college students in the area since it is in an historical college area. While at the JEMA office, I was able to buy some books, magazines, a directory of ministries and missionaries (over 2000), and a prayer guide.

Another strange event occurred. There was a meeting upstairs in a conference room that Mizuko-san took me to and let me sit in on. I really had no business there, but I really felt like she was being lead by the Spirit the whole time. She seemed very wise. The meeting was of senior JEMA staff, all English speaking, who were meeting as a counsel on how to handle a theological issue with another organization. If you've been reading my blog, you know that this relates to me. They are planning to address another organization that printed a pamphlet that seems to be causing division in the body of Christ there. I was able to have lunch with the President of JEMA after the meeting and speak with him. I got to share my story and hear his. He has been a missionary in Japan for around 35 years.

After that, yet another strange thing happened. I felt lead to go to the Imperial Palace area in the center of Tokyo. I was walking and praying when a Japanese man started talking to me (in English of course). We talked for almost 2 hours and he bought me dinner. He was a retired gentleman aged 65 named Hideki Ito.



He said he has no religion as most Japanese. I spoke a bit about the bible, but from what I could tell he had almost no exposure to Christianity. I gave him a tract I got from the group I met last week (I carry them everywhere now) and told him that if he sent a letter to the folks listed in the back of the tract, he could get a free bible. Please pray that he reads the tract and that he sends for the bible.

So that was my day in a nutshell. God is good and works in mysterious ways.

I have no clue what I'll do tomorrow. Whether God blesses me with another good day or if troubles come, I will praise Him for He is good.

--David

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Counsel

I went to Tokyo Horizon Chapel Setagaya campus on Sunday morning. The pastor is Jeremiah Boek. He has been going through Proverbs and the message was on Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

The message is in English. A lot of the folks there know English as a second language. Jeremiah does a good job of speaking clearly, slowly, and repeating things in different words, different terms to help those who aren't as familiar with English.

He discussed wise counsel vs. foolish counsel. Wise counsel comes from God's word and through other Christians.

So, this scripture talks about plans (big plans evidently) and needing many advisers. I'm trying to think if I've ever asked for counsel from many advisers. I can't recall. I think we (I) need to discuss things more with others...God really can use others to speak to us and that builds bonds as believers. I know many of you have spoken wise words to me and helped me in different things. Let's try to spend more time seeking counsel with others and not just winging it. Sure, always be open to the Holy Spirit in you giving you the only counsel you need, but God wants us to work together as a body and we will often need to seek counsel from others...sometimes to bond, sometimes for humility, sometimes to bless the other person, etc.

Seek wise counsel.

--David

Baseball

After church today (another post later), I went to a baseball game. It was the Yomiuri Giants (think Yankees) against the Yokohama Bay Stars (think Cubs). The Giants won in the 10th inning...an exciting game. Here's the box score.

Here's a picture of the final score on the outfield board.



The words below the score are all written vertical. On the left, it says "Giants" in their phonetic alphabet called katakana. It is actually "Ja i a n tsu" when pronounced sounds like Giants. Followed by that are the numbers corresponding to the positions (1=pitcher, 2=catcher, etc...standard American stuff) which is in the batting order. Below the number is the name of the person. So to the right of Giants is 1 (pitcher) who's name is Uehara. The four names in the middle are the umpires. The right side is for the Bay Stars.

The stadium was packed. The outfield stands are divided by the scoreboard. The the left was a section of Giants fans and to the right a section of Bay Stars fans. The *whole* time their team was at bat, they would chant, use noise makers, and sing songs. I can't stress this enough *THE WHOLE TIME*...every inning...every time their team was at bat. (For those of you who know me well, you know I am not a big fan of noise.) The rest of the stadium would join in sometimes depending on what was going on. The lady next to me was just using her noisemaker at random times. It was two small baseball bats made of plastic that when hit together made a 'crack' sound. She would whack them together to the beat of the chants/songs. She almost whacked me a time or two. Anyway, after about 4 hours, it was starting to get on my nerves, but God gave me grace and I was patient.

Here's a video of the chanting/singing.

video

The stadium was the Bay Stars stadium in Yokohama. It was open air and it happened to be very nice out...I picked the best day to go. I had a KFC chicken sandwich and fries. They did have hot dogs, but they were skewered like corn dogs without a bun or anything. :( There were popcorn vendors and you could get popcorn drizzled with caramel or toffee or something. I guess trying to get close to cracker jacks. :)

The bull pen was hidden behind the outfield wall. When it was time for a new pitcher, they *drove* the pitcher out in a strangely modified car. Here's a video. (And yes, they're singing again.)

video

It came time for the 7th inning stretch, so I stood up to stretch, and the couple to my left got up and stood in the aisle thinking I was wanting out, so I went out and walked around. :) They had a cute little baby which was probably 9 months old.

The players each had "entry songs" which were played for a few seconds when they came to bat. Here's the list for the Bay Stars...some of which are English.

After the Giants won, Damon Hollins (wikipedia|giants site)
was the first to speak (not sure why) and the first thing out of his mouth was thanks to God, which was cool. They interviewed just a couple of folks and displayed it on the big board in center field.

After that, I headed out with the other 30,000 people and it seems like half went to the same train station as me. :) It wasn't too bad though...I got on the first train there, which was packed, but not the worst I've ever been on.

That's all folks.

--David

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Odaiba

Today I went to Odaiba where there is one of my favorite things to see in Tokyo.



There's also a Toyota showcase area where you can see cool cars and stuff. This car is actually driving itself. You can ride in it for a fee. There are sensors and things in the road it is traveling on.




Non-production futuristic car:



Sweet ride for only about $16,000. This is what Scions should look like. :)



If you look closely, this car has a tail.



I got to sit in this:



And here's a video:

video

I didn't get to sit in this. :(


These kids look like they are having fun:

video

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Friday

I'm tired.

So, here's my day. Woke up, got ready, surfed for directions to a few places, headed out.

I ate breakfast at McDonalds (yeah...I know) and went looking for a coin laundry I saw on a map about a 15 minute walk from here. I found it and made a mental note of how to get there. From there, I went to Christian Academy in Japan and happened to meet the athletic director on the street who gave me a quick tour. The campus is nice. They have less than 500 students, but they have a large gym, 2 libraries, computer rooms, an auditorium, a huge playground, a cafeteria, wood shop, art class (with potter's wheel), band, choir, etc. All the classes are in English and around half the students are missionary kids.

After that, I headed over to St. Mary's Chathedral for a quick look. Quite an impressive building. But I just can't get over all the 'graven images' in the church. There is a section to the side that consists of a few rows of pews for prayer all facing a statue of Mary. I know there are true Christians in the catholic church, but I just can't ignore the blatant error in the whole Mary thing. From a pamphlet they gave me today: "Through Mary we come to Christ and through Christ, to God the Father." Wow.

So the question is, just how much grace does God give to his people? We all sin. I'm sure we all have some belief that we've picked up along the way that is wrong. But if we believe in Christ and, say, we believe the basic Nicene Creed (OMG...there are even many versions of that), if we believe in that, how far off base can we be other places and still walk with Christ? Does God give his grace if we trust in Jesus but pray to Mary occasionally? Are all things truly permissible? I'm not advocating greasy grace (just do anything), but if the person or group doesn't know or hasn't been told, are they under grace until they are shown their error? Let's say a new Christian joins a Catholic church...hasn't read much bible, has no history of Christian influence but heard the gospel and joined a church. The leaders teach their traditions and leads the new believer into praying to Mary. I'm guessing that the sin is on the head of the leader and not the new believer until the Holy Spirit leads them into that particular truth.

Anyway, my question is what do we do when we see error in a church body or other believers? I think we have to listen to the Holy Spirit to find out what to do in the situation. We can't just go to a new believer and point out everything wrong...God will work things in them in due time...plus we probably have a plank in our own eye. But once we get it out, we should help them with their problem if God is leading us. But it should be out of humility, knowing that the only reason we aren't in the same situation is through the grace of God. What happens when we look at each other as just brothers and sisters whose righteousness is only from the grace of God and that God is still working out grace in different areas of our lives? I may see a brother who has a shortcoming in one area that I don't have, but it is only God's grace that I don't, so why should I boast or be proud or think myself more mature or in tune with God? Clearly there are some things that should be nipped in the bud, liken drunkenness or sexual immorality or stealing or whatever. But what about the fruit of the Spirit...something that takes time? What if a brother is lacking in, say, gentleness? We must admonish them in humility, but not in a way that would cause them to stumble. If anything we would say would cause them to stumble, then we should think about whether it should be said or not. We must always keep in mind that God is their father...not us. Only if God is leading us should we say anything.

What should we say to the Catholic church as a whole? Should the entire Protestant World stand up and make a decree that there is one mediator between us and God and it is Jesus Christ and call the Catholic church on the carpet (so to speak)? I guess that's been done before and the whole reason we have Protestant churches. :) Maybe we could nail something to the Vatican door and carbon copy CNN. ;)

Anyway, I'm rambling. If you know me, you know I do that. I'm just putting some questions out there of what God is leading me through at the moment.

So, after visiting the cathedral, I headed back to Shinagawa and ate at TGI Fridays. It was a late lunch/early dinner around 3:30. I had some new Buffalo chicken tacos. Kind of tasty. So from 9:30 to about 3:30, I was on my feet and doing lots of walking. I came back to the hotel and crashed and read for a bit. After that, I decided it was time for laundry, so I packed up all my dirty laundry and headed out for the coin laundry. Sounds like an exciting Friday evening, eh? BTW, the same thing happens in Japan as it does in the US, I had one sock that didn't have its mate. :)

I think I'll mainly rest tomorrow and figure out where to worship on Sunday. Of course, church services in Japan should be in Japanese, so I have to find a transplanted English church to go to. :) I might try one I haven't been to before...we'll see where God leads.

--David

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Head

And now for something completely different...

While I was in the states, God led me to an article about a guitarist for a metal group Korn. The guitarist's name is Brian "Head" Welch. He was saved a couple of years ago and wrote a book about his life. I just bought the book this afternoon and read the whole thing cover to cover. Wow. What an awesome testimony. If you know anyone in the pit of despair...enslaved to alcohol, drugs, etc., they should read this book. Jesus was his rehab.

Save Me from Myself

Krispy Kreme

I found a new Krispy Kreme is Shinjuku and was hoping for a snack, but I didn't feel like waiting behind the other 70 people (my est.) What you can't see from this picture is that the line is full and they have more folks lined up to th right of the building. Now there has to be over a hundred people. It has never smelled so good in Tokyo. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lunch

Thank God for the colonel!

Sunday meeting in Sendai

Yes...that's a sheepdog in the meeting. A big, fluffy sheepdog. The white haired gentleman in the next to last picture is Dave Broman who came to Japan back in the 50's.






Some Pictures from SecondHarvest

These pictures are from SecondHarvest, the organization that feeds some homeless and provides some groceries. The vans were loaded up with some soup and rice and taken to Ueno Park where there are a good number of homeless. I went to a different place that hands out some breads/veggies/etc...groceries for folks. Everything is orderly at the distribution. About 5 guys would come down the stairs at a time (as directed by one of the SecondHarvest guys at the top) and we would hand out the groceries. My job was handing out the bread. (pronounced Pan in Japanese)









Stories & Thoughts

When I first traveled to meet the group, I was wondering what I was getting into. It was like going back 100 years in American history. Here are some descriptions to give you a feel for it. At dinner, the men ate at a separate table from the women. Most women wore their hair up in a net/bun. In the meeting on Sunday, we sang a few hymns (old hymns...some of which I knew), some of the men, starting with the older men, got up and read some scripture and/or shared what they had been doing. There was a section for men and a section for women generally speaking, but there were some who mixed in a third section. We had communion afterwards, followed by lunch. The women took care of all the food and children, while the men had other meetings.

The style of many things this group does is from what would be called in America "The Brethren" or something like that.

They don't seem to be overly legalistic about things like hair, or dress, or seating. There are no titles, no membership. When they preach the gospel, they don't ask for money or for anyone to join a church. They feel that God will draw the Christians together. Those who hear the gospel and contact them, they will send them a free bible.

They definitely believe Jesus is the son of God and died for our sins and was raised on the third day. I never heard anything contrary to scripture...and I heard quite a bit. Everyone liked to talk about sharing the gospel and what the gospel was.

I heard a story of a lady who walked by one of their signs every day (the sign said something like "Jesus is the bread of life") and the Holy Spirit drew her to Christ.

The folks have a few businesses and have a good reputation in the business community. They have many banks wanting to lend them money. They have a profitable software business, and have recently started some sort of a film/sound/animation production house.

If you read this MorningStar word of the week (which happened to come out while I was visiting) it talks about different phases of disaster relief and how the first (but not only) phase is simple rescue and how this relates to the church. The group I visited seems to be focused (dare I say stuck?) on the first phase. Are they simply walking in phase 1 as God has told them? Is that their calling? Is this just a center for evangelism that God has raised up and those who should be sheparding have failed to come? Should shepards come from this group as well? Is it just not the right timing? I have lots of questions, but I dare not judge them. They are getting the gospel out much more than I. Do we truly believe that folks around us are going to hell? Do we truly want to see them come to know Jesus and have eternal life?

Can the "American" life of "stuff" and running around busy doing everything but ministering to those around us be good? These folks own a school for non-christians that they keep up nicely...a new building and a very nice campus, so they can charge good money and put that money for evangelism, while their own kids are meeting in a old hospital that was built before the war. Would we do anything like that in the US? Their kids are not suffering...they are being taught and are learning quite well. They are learning that stuff doesn't matter and that we should be laying treasures up in heaven.

These folks work together...have problems together...find solutions together. They eat together, play together, learn together, and spread the gospel together. Do we do anything together anymore? Do we have strong relationships with other families? In the Sunday school class that Kerri and I taught last year, none of the kids went to the same school during the week and they just didn't know each other. We rarely work with someone we worship with. Wouldn't it be nice to work with brothers and sisters, share in problems, and minister to each other? What have we become? Are we so caught up in the ways of this world that we are dying due to our lack of being connected to the body of Christ? Not that the church is our source of strength...God alone should be our strength, but God does use us to help each other and bear each others burdens. We are His body...all interconnected and linked to the head, which is Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches.

Let us strive to love one another as Christ commanded. Let us consider our lives and ask God to work out our selfishness and love for things of this world and concentrate more on eternal things...the lives of those around us.

--David

People

Some of the people I met are:

Philip, Dave, and Paul Broman - three brothers who ended up in Japan after the war. They are all around 80 years old now, but still have a heart for getting the gospel out. If I remember correctly, Paul married a Japanese woman, Dave married an American, and Philip never married.

Nathan - a son of one of the 3 Broman brothers who came to Japan in the 50's. When I first spoke to him on the phone Sunday night about possibly coming to visit, he offered to pay half of my round trip ticket, so about $90. He helped introduce me to folks and seems to be one of the main leaders. They don't have titles...most things are decided by consensus of the elders.

James - he was my interpreter for a lot of the time. He spent a lot of time making signs that they put up all around Japan. He also let me have some tracts I could give out.

Tomono - also known as Tom, he was probably in his 70's. His parents were Japanese who moved to Hawaii before the war. After the war, he moved back to Japan. He still drives one of the vans and drives all around spreading the gospel. He has a small kitchen in the van and sleeps in the van as well. When I say 'van'...this isn't an RV or big van...it is actually smaller than most 'minivans' in the US. Here he is in his van reading in Romans. He was waiting for a tail light to be fixed so he could hit the road.



Janet - an American who has been teaching English at the school for about 4 years. She left her kids and grandkids in California to come to Japan and teach. She let me sit in on a couple of classes...the kids are precious.

I briefly met other folks from India, Brazil, Cambodia, Korea, Taiwan, and other southeast Asian countries. Which country doesn't belong in the list above? If you said Brazil, you are correct. :) After the war, many Japanese were welcomed to Brazil to start a new life since things were destroyed and food was scarce in Japan. There is a fairly large Japanese (or formerly Japanese) community there from what I hear.

There are other folks who I chatted with for a long time who I don't remember their names. My next post will (hopefully) be some of the stories and observations while I was there. Time to take a shower and head to McDonald's for breakfast. :)

--David

English!

Woohoo! I finally found out how to get blogger.com to show me English pages...luckily the help system was in English. :)

Adventure

So, the last couple of days I have been staying with a group of Christians who live about 2 hours north of Tokyo via the shinkansen (bullet train). I was in a small town of around 10,000 or less people.

The group of folks I stayed with have one purpose in life: get the gospel message out to the world. That is what their whole lives are devoted to. They see it as dying to themselves and doing what God wants them to do. They are basically a group of large, extended families, who the patriarchs (if you will) are men from the US who came there in the 50's after the war.

Their ministry -

Their whole ministry (at least in Japan) is getting the gospel message out the following 3 ways:
1. Handing out tracts on the streets or putting them in mailboxes
2. Putting up signs around the country. They have put up *hundreds of thousands* of tin signs all over Japan.
3. Driving around the whole country with vans that have speakers on top that continuously play spoken messages explaining the gospel. Some background is needed for this one. In Japanese society, it is common for folks to drive around in vans and giving out messages via loudspeakers. Mainly this is done by political groups. These folks get maps of areas and drive around and play the messages. They have been everywhere possible in Japan north of Tokyo and now they are also working in the south. They have a large fleet of vans with speakers on top, and support RVs that contain kitchens, showers, and bunks. I went out this morning for about a half an hour while they were testing out some new speakers and recordings. They drive slowly through the town and crank up the volume. We went by a kindergarten and some of the kids ran to the fence to listen and see the van. While I was with them, they even drove into a rice paddy and turned up the volume full blast so the farmers could hear for a half a mile all around.

Their property -

They have 5 or 6 main buildings. 2 or 3 are apartments or dorms. Very modest accomodations. 2 buildings are the school for the kids. 1 building is the meeting hall where meals are served for the older folks, guests, and others. The families cook their own meals. 1 building is a warehouse/garage.

Their economy -

The group runs a private kindergarten in another town, as well as other businesses, and funnels all the monies from those to spreading the gospel.

Their school -

The school for their kids teaches English for 2 hours, Japanese for 2 hours, and Chinese for 2 hours every day. Every kid becomes fluent in all 3 languages.

So, that's the basics of the mechanics of how things work there. I'll write more later about some of the people I met and some of the stories I heard.

--David

Back in Tokyo

I'm back in Tokyo now...and back to internet access. I did have internet access for the last few days on my phone, but it is difficult to post a decent message. Also, blogger.com thinks it is smart and can see that I'm behind a proxy in Japan, so the whole site is in Japanese...which makes it fun to figure out the buttons since I'm not familiar with it. I don't see a button to switch to English either.

I'm here for at least a week: http://www.princehotelsjapan.com/shinagawaprincehotel/

This is where Kerri, Christopher, and I stayed when we came a few years ago. Fairly inexpensive (< $100 a night), but I have to pay 1050 yen (about $9) per day for internet access. :( I forgot about that part.

More about my last few days adventures later.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday

On Sunday, I took the shinkansen (bullet train) up to Sendai to visit some Christians there. It was amazing. Quite an eye opener. They truly understand that Christ wants none to perish, but have eternal life.

This is not a western church. There are no buildings with steeples or crosses on them. This is a church made up of like minded people who are working every day to get the gospel message out. I can't give you an address of the church...it doesn't exist. It is a group of families that own businesses. The businesses support the evangelism. There is a kindergarten/english school, a computer software company and a sound/film/animation studio...maybe more. Each country/area they go to, once the group of Christians there grows big enough, they start a business to help fund their evangelism. They have teams in just about every south east Asia country except for North Korea. For the last 20 years, they have given out the gospel message to every student in the Thailand school system...they are very open there. To keep Christians in China, they have started an exporting company there. When the government catches someone preaching the gospel there, they can say that they work at the company and after a few hours interrogation, they are let go.

Three brothers from America came to Japan after the war and are what you might call elders of the group. There are other patriarchs as well from various places. Their families are amazing. Most folks in the group know at least 3 languages. Most of the children were taught Japanese, English, and Chinese. They travel all over Japan and Asia sharing the gospel. Some will travel, others will work to support them. It is a very fluid group and they go where God leads. In the meeting Sunday, a brother from Brazil said they were having problems there, so the group was going to send a family there for a few years to help out. One of the guys at the church was my interpreter for the whole meeting, which went from 9:30 to 12:30ish. There was singing (old hymns...it was interesting to hear the singing in many languages at one time), speaking, communion, and then lunch...followed by fellowshipping.

There's no formal training these folks go through, but then again neither did Paul or Peter or any other apostles. There's no earthly organization that ordains them. They are simply living out the great commission...going and sharing the good news. They don't plant churches per se, they believe that God will gather the believers together in each area they visit and that God will provide. That is something I heard back in the US from a respected teacher recently...the church should be helping Christians rely on God more and more...Christians shouldn't be relying on the church more and more.

I will be leaving Tokyo today and heading back up toward Sendai to an area where some of the Christians are working and preparing to go back out. I don't know what I'll be doing yet, but that keeps it interesting. :)

--David