On Sunday, we were away in Brampton serving at Bramalea Baptist’s missions conference. I preached and Jennifer sang in their morning services and Jennifer sang again in the evening at their short-term mission fundraising event. The reason for our involvement was their Japan focus. Specifically, they’re sending two teams to Japan to serve in two cities with which I have a deep connection. The first, Toyama, was the place where I was baptized and served initially teaching English as a new believer and recent university graduate. The second, Tsukuba, was where Jennifer and I served to plant a church. It’s exciting to see God continuing to raise up people to support the work of the gospel in these two cities.
The message on Sunday morning was a tag-team presentation called, A Tale of Two Cities, with me sharing preaching duties with another Canadian whom God had led to serve in the church in Toyama. It’s always interesting to meet him and his wife as he ended up marrying a Japanese woman to whom I taught English on my first visit when she was just in middle school. In the evening, the teams hosted a Taste of Japan event with Japanese food to eat, a charity auction of donated goods and services, and a presentation about Japan, the team and all they hope to do.
There were three take-aways for me from the day of ministry:
1. It gave me an expectation about the next person God will call.
As the missions pastor encouraged us to think about the next person that God will call to full-time missions service, it challenged me to expect God to do just that. I had only been a believer for 18 months when God called me to serve Him in Japan. It was totally unexpected. This unpredictable nature of God’s moving in a person’s life should give all of us an openness to consider what God might have us do. We should have an expectation of God’s calling people in wonderful and surprising ways. And we should be open to God using us in new and challenging ways.
2. It reminded me that short-term ministry is often the first step to long-term ministry.
It’s easy to look at short-term mission trips and ask, “It is worth it?” The plane ticket is expensive and the time is short. As I look back at the short-term teams and individuals that visited us, we saw varying ‘results.’ Like many career missionaries, some worked very hard and very faithfully and saw little for it. Others opened up doors for our ministry that became turning points in our church plant. The fact is that short-term mission trips infuse energy and opportunity into the work of the gospel. As important, though, mission trips change the individuals who participate in them. Almost every single career missionary in Japan was first exposed to the needs of the country through a short-term mission trip. And as I spoke to people on Sunday who had served in Japan, it was clear that the experience was life-changing for them.
3. It took the focus off everything else and back on the task that Jesus has called us to.
It was nice to spend a day, where the entire focus was on people who need Christ on the other side of the world. It was refreshing to dedicate a day where there was no discussion of the colour of the carpet, the playoff hopes for the Raptors, or even the spiritual condition of Canadian believers. It was all about the mission of the church, both here in Canada and at the ends of the earth. At the end of the day, what is the church if it is not a gathering for the purpose mission?
May God raise up some from our midst with a passion to make Christ known next door and around the world. And may we be a church dedicated to the task that Christ has commissioned us for.
In awe of Him,