What!? Has it really been a year already?
Looking back through our records, in the middle of September of last year we were being introduced as an official missions family of our home church. This was the beginning of our journey to find people with a heart for missions, or for Japan, or for us as a family, or all three together! And we certainly have found those. Every one of you who has followed God’s call to partner with our ministry in Japan has added so much to our ability to be effective ministers through your financial support, your emotional strength, your encouraging words, and the many hours spent praying for our time here in the US and our future ministry in Japan. Thank you! Thank you for partnering with God, and us by extension, in reaching the lost nations with hope and reconciliation. We continue to pray for all of you and hope God reveals how he has chosen to bless you through our partnership.
Now a little bit on how we figure percentages. TEAM gave us our budget back when we first signed on with them. They also gave us two numbers to aim for in terms of support. The first number is the Minimum Budget amount needed to hop on a plane and go. The second number is the Recommended Budget amount for maintaining a healthy family life and ministry in Japan. Whenever we give percentages on our support, we always give the percentage of the Recommended Budget as this is what we are trusting God to provide. We do this because we know a large part of our ministry will be meeting with people over coffee or dinner, inviting people into our home, travelling fair distances frequently to build networks, and providing assistance to ministries and people in need. Planning for the Recommended Budget will help us to avoid the stress of either “instant ramen night” three days a week, or having to pass up ministry opportunities. It also takes into consideration that sometimes circumstances and jobs and extra kidlets will change some peoples ability to maintain their giving. This is natural and expected so the Recommended Budget helps us create space for that eventuality.
Last time I posted our percentage, due to my poor math skillz (I’m an artist and a writer, it’s a hazard of the job) I accidentally posted something like the average of the two. I am very sorry for that, and can’t blame it on anything but my inability to add without a calculator. Our actual percentage last time was 43%. Now I can safely post that we are at 46% of the Recommended Budget, and we have a great hope that in the next few weeks we will see that number cross the 50% mark!
I know that many of you have been praying for Japan as well. Thank you! Never tire of doing this good thing. The true hope for Japan lies in the slow, persistent movement of God’s spirit among a people unaccustomed to change and afraid of being considered “different”. He certainly is doing that too, as stories of recent baptisms and a church filling slowly with “different” individuals are making their way out from TEAM Japan. My own trip to Japan in 2011 recently came into greater perspective when it was pointed out to me that the persistence of God’s people and their resiliency in doing good began to be what changed the hearts and minds of the Japanese affected by the tsunami. In my mind I had slogged away in empty fields spraying a questionable anti-bacterial spray to very little effect. It turns out, that small “ineffective” bit of ministry added to a greater wave of Christians doing their own small (sometimes ineffective) things, that would then help bring a new and different kind of water to these hard-hit areas. It wore through the crust of centuries of isolation, self-reliance, and pride, and made a way for Jesus to reach hearts. It didn’t take me recognizing the results for God to get glory.
I’m betting he has worked or is working the same way through your lives as well. If you are feeling disheartened by your impact for the kingdom, keep hope! Stay faithful to what he has called you to, and he will bring the increase.