We have been in Japan for over 10 months. When we first arrived last June, we didn’t know anyone. All our neighbours were strangers and it was as if we were invisible. Since then, Akira and I have walked through the neighbourhood and around Josie’s Jr. High and Josiah’s Elementary school praying for families, teachers and students to encounter Jesus. We have read the names on houses in our neighbourhood and prayed for families by name. In our home we created a prayer board listing friends, neighbours, students and teachers God has placed on our hearts. Every Sunday, we pray for them as a family, by name, asking for Jesus to touch them and change their hearts, that they may receive Him.
During these last 10 months, we have also been rooting as a family into the community.
- Josie and Josiah have attended the local Jr. High and elementary schools making friends and learning how to live life in Japan. The last week of March, they finished their school year. One week later, in April, they started their new school year. Josie is now in the third and final year of Jr. High and Josiah is now in the 5th grade.
- Since November, I have been studying Japanese at a local Kumon. Every Tuesday and Friday afternoon, I go to Kumon to study. At the same time, many kids from Josiah’s school are also there. Now, several months later, I recognise many faces and they recognise mine. They smile at me as I enter Kumon to do my study and I smile back.
- Akira walks to school every morning with Josie. On the way, he greets all the students on their way to the elementary school as well as those on their way to the Jr. High. Many kids now know him as Josiah’s and Josie’s papa and say good morning.
We are becoming visible.
And now, we have been asked by Nitta Sensei, the Kumon head teacher, to come and have a special English time with the kids. So, one Saturday a month for the next three months, Josie, Josiah and I will teach this special class and talk in English with the kids.
There is also a very good possibility that I may be invited once a month to do a 20 minute English read aloud time to Josiah’s class. I will be allowed to read any english book I choose. Already I am thinking about what stories I could share with them, especially during Christmas.
Akira has also been inspired to write commentaries for a local newspaper about family, identity and life choices, each highlighting Biblical truths without saying the name “Jesus.” Already, one of these has been published.
It is true we were nearly invisible when we arrived. People did not look at us or initiate friendly greetings but we did’t strive to make connections. We chose instead to make family first and let God take the lead. He has. Now in many ways we are becoming visible.
It is a beautiful thing to smile and greet now familiar faces and see that smile returned.