So life has been interesting since my return from Japan. It was not long after the beginning of the DTS that I knew I wanted to return to Japan as a staff member (much longer to decide if it was what God wanted). One of the big things that God impressed upon me, though, was beginning this new journey in faith, and one big area was in finances. Things were going to be different in preparing for my time as a staff. Let me explain.
I spent two months last fall really seeking the Lord on my future, what it looked like, where it was going, particularly in the area of missions. During this time, the Lord transformed my heart (any person's heart being transformed is a miracle), and when November rolled around, I was ready to go where He wanted me: "Japan". After spending some time praying it through, I told my parents about this choice, not really sure how I would provide for it. Well, less than a week later, I had received a phone call from a local accounting firm in Houston, MS, from people I had met a year and a half earlier, and they pretty much offered me a job! How crazy is that?! That job ended up supplying over half my support, not including the gifts from those I met there. There is no doubt in my mind that the opportunity was divine.
However, in returning from Japan, I knew I had some time before going back, and I would also need to raise support for two years away... Very daunting task, indeed. Yet I felt like the Lord was calling me away from working for it like I did last time. It was very difficult coming to this conclusion although it might not seem that way. In working, I could both provide for myself while also showing a proactive effort towards obtaining my support goal to any potential supporters. It would not require as much faith because I could do it without as much faith in the Lord to provide. It would move me towards obtaining my CPA license, which seems like wisdom. There would have been many benefits from it.
But I felt like working was not the direction to head. I am not saying working is faithless, for the Lord definitely provided for my first trip in this way. No, I felt like the Lord was calling me to a new place of faith while also being more relational in my support raising efforts. Because I chose not to work, I have been able to spend time in regular discipleship relationships throughout the week I might not have been able to. I have had the freedom to engage individuals I might not otherwise seen. I have had the opportunity to meet and encourage people I would have missed. I have been able to take trips and make visits to people I have longed to see.
To be honest, when I sat down to type this blog post, I did not plan on writing this. I hope was to tell you about my trip around the Southeast before I forgot it, then to tell you about my encounter with a group of Italian students I met two weeks ago. And I assure you, these stories are coming (they are great stories; will I tell them well, I do not know)! But this is my heart: my heart longs for people and for them to know that they are loved, not just by me, but by their Creator. And not this distant love, but a love that will get down and dirty with you, hands messy, clothes dirty, trenches fighting love. This love went to a cross for each and everyone of us. That is the love, that is the power we carry. That is what I want people to know. That is what I want to take back to Japan.
Before we left Japan, we were saying goodbye to some of our friends at the Japanese high school ministry we have participated in (Hi-B.A.). One girl, who is from Japan, said to me, "JP, I hear you are one of the special ones who are coming back to Japan." I replied, "Yeah, I am." Something like that. "That's good," she said. "Japan need some more of the Father's Heart!" I about turned to stone. Father's Heart? How did she know? Had we talked about it? I cannot remember. But she saw it.
That is what Japan needs. It is what we all need. And it is not about me. To be honest, it is not about the Japanese people. Going back to Japan is about God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, receiving the glory, honor, and praise they deserve! My hope is to go back to Japan to do it. Where are you going to do it today?