Many of you would by now have heard the news that Bron, Nile, Conway and I are moving to Japan on March 23rd. This is certainly one of those times when there is a strange mixture of excitement and trepidation all mixed together! I just wanted to take some time to fill in some more of the details for you all so that you are in the loop.
I know that for some of you this may seem to be very sudden and somewhat random. The truth of the matter, however, is that this is a move that has been brewing for the past 17 years. Before Bron and I were even dating, Bron first went to Japan back in 2001. At that time she was teaching English in kindergartens and she was able to connect in with a fantastic church in the city of Utsunomiya (about 100km north of Tokyo). Since then, the two of us have been regularly going back and forth out of a desire to continue to strengthen our friendships with some key people in Japan and with a sense that at some point in the future God might call us to some form of longer term involvement over there. It has always felt like a case of “when” not “if”, but we have been very conscious of the need to know God’s leading.
Towards the end of 2017, some of our good friends in Utsunomiya got in contact with us to ask if we would consider coming to Japan to assist them with a brand new church that they had just planted a few months previously. We were pretty excited about this opportunity, but we knew that in order for it to happen it would require me to find a job of some kind so that we could get visas. I started applying for English teaching jobs and was asked to come on over to Japan for an interview in early February. The result of that interview was that the Utsunomiya Board of Education have offered me a 12-month contract as an Assistant Language Teacher, meaning that I will be based in 2-3 different schools helping out in the English language classes. We really sense God’s provision in this – when I turned up for the interview it quickly became apparent that I was probably the least qualified for the role and least experienced in terms of English teaching of all the applicants! Our prayer throughout this whole process has been, “Lord, we trust in you to make a way where there seems to be no way. We trust in you to open doors that no person can shut.” It certainly feels as if God has answered our prayers! We are believing that this job will provide some great opportunities to be an influence for Jesus in the lives of many young Japanese people, but we are most excited about being part of Jesus Center Church. Click here to have a look at the Jesus Center Church website (NB: it’s all written in Japanese, but you can enjoy the pictures at least and get a sense of what’s going on!). The reality is that less than 1% of Japan’s population of 127 million people are Christians, but there is certainly a growing openness to the Gospel throughout the nation. We are so excited about being able to get on the ground and do whatever we can to continue to reach out to Japanese people with the love of Jesus.
The decision to go has not been an easy one, mainly because it involves us leaving behind our natural family and our church family. Elim Church Christchurch City has been home for Bron and I since we both got saved here back in 2000. It is the only home church that we have ever had; we care so much about the people here and absolutely believe that the future is so bright for this congregation. We are so grateful for Nu and Taua and their leadership, and so grateful for their willingness to release us into this new adventure. In many ways, it would be easier for us to stay here with the familiar and the comfortable, but we just know within ourselves that God is calling us to step out of the boat.
Sunday March 18th will be our last Sunday before we leave; we will be sharing more about our upcoming journey on that day – we would love to see you there and are happy to line up for lots of hugs at the end of those services! After our departure we will certainly be doing our best to keep you all updated with developments.
Let’s believe together that 2018 is going to be a year of breakthrough and blessing both here and in Japan!