How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. Ps 31:9
This verse so wonderfully describes our time in Tokyo. It was as if the storehouses of God’s goodness were opened up and poured down upon us the whole time we were there.
But I have to admit, we were nervous about going. We’re getting old. We don’t have the energy we once had. We have intermittent health problems. Sometimes we would look at each other and say, “What are we doing? This is the craziest thing we’ve ever done!”
But then I thought of Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” And I felt a great peace. In spite of our concerns, I knew that we totally wanted to go and serve God however he could use us.
So we boarded the airplane and flew 13 hours to Japan.
On the airplane I started reading Luke again, getting back to the basics. I continued reading Luke throughout our trip and I’ll share some of the verses that resonated with me in my days there in Japan.
We landed in Tokyo at around 3:00 PM. Bleary, with butterflies in our stomachs, we made it through a daze of red tape. Everything was completely unfamiliar. Even when people spoke English to us, we couldn’t understand them. But then we exited customs and there, waving at us with big smiles, were new friends, Shohei and Minori Miyoshi. We felt warm and welcomed.
That was the way we would feel all week.
Shohei and Minori drove us to the Tokyo Church of Christ building.
What an awesome building they have! Inside, the sanctuary was decorated with beautiful banners.
The one on the left was created for the campaign we traveled to be participants in. It was called “Miraculous Journey.” The one on the right communicates the church’s theme for this year: “Let down your nets to catch fish.” (Luke 5:4 — I hope I got that right!)
Shohei walked us to a Japanese fast food place so we could get some dinner. We wound our way through residential areas and businesses on clean narrow streets that were more designed for pedestrians and bicyclists than cars.
Soon after our return, it was time for a Tuesday night devotional service. People started arriving and we met an endless blur of wonderful people with bright loving faces. We wished we could remember their strange sounding names.
I was so impressed with the level of enthusiasm in the worship.
We sang. Rob Skinner preached and gave us our commission for the week — to be revived personally and corporately. To be unified, and respect our diversity. At some point we had received gift bags and information packets. Now we learned that we would arrive at the church building at the very early hour of 7 AM to pray with church members each day. Then we would share for hours every day. Yikes! The schedule would be intense.
After the service we broke up and prayed in groups of 2 to 3 people. I prayed with the Women’s Ministry Leader, Monami, and with another amazing woman, Momi. There were tears as we prayed for revival. What an amazing point of time, that God brought together completely different people to be united in love and a deep sense of purpose.
And what was the purpose? One passage stood out to me in my study of Luke:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 6:8
I kept wondering. Why, out of all the Messianic prophesies, would Jesus choose Isaiah 6:8 to read and proclaim as fulfilled?
There are probably several reasons, but it came to me that it was because Jesus wanted to make it plain that he came to heal.
He came to heal physical ailments and constraints. He came to heal emotional damage. And he came to heal the broken relationship between man and God.
That is why Ken and I traveled across the world, woke up early and went around talking to strangers. We wanted to help people heal. It might not be physical healing, although we could pray for that, and prayer is powerful. But we could bring them to a nurturing relationship with God that would eclipse the pain of the past. We could give them hope and joy. We could show them a love that is bigger than their heartache. We could demonstrate that they have infinite value.
And as we were there, I felt more and more that healing was God’s theme for this time. I heard stories of individuals who had been healed. I saw ways the church is healing. Even the musical that would be presented on Sunday would be about healing. It was a modern day prodigal son story.
Before we left, Ken and I asked ourselves, “Are we adequate for the work? Do we have what it takes?”
But as I read Luke 9 at dawn in the little bedroom where we were staying, I saw the truth. Jesus used five loaves and two fishes to feed a crowd. We just needed to bring whatever we had to Jesus and he would increase it.
We said, “We don’t have enough! What we have isn’t good enough.”
Jesus said, “Give what you have.” So that is what we did. And I truly believe God did multiply it into immense blessings.