Robert & Roberta Adair

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I just finished a Japanese lesson over Skype with my teacher of 2 weeks.  We’ve now met together (“together” in a very 21st century kind of way) for a total of 8 hours.  For part of today’s lesson, she was helping me work on my testimony and, at the end, she shared with me a bit of hers.

At two points, I got blotchy-faced and teary-eyed listening to her.

She went to the US when she was 25 for a home stay English program and to study some at college (for how long, I’m not sure).  She stayed with 3 Christian families – all of whom were really caring and really clear in their love for Jesus.  Their lives were attractive to her, and she quickly believed in Jesus; wanting what they had.  She told me she didn’t know squat about Jesus before then – nothing about celebrating his birth (“that’s what Christmas is?!”), that he died, nothing.

She told me she grew quickly in her faith – attending Bible school for a while and acquiring a lot of knowledge.  But, in that safe bubble, she didn’t really have opportunities to practice being a Christian.  Then she came back to Japan…to non-Christian parents, to non-Christian friends, to non-Christian everything.  She tried to go to a nearby church, but it was a really rough experience for her (the style of leadership and of worship, how old everyone was, how out of touch they seemed to be).  Thanks to her time in the States and in Bible college (and, yep, probably the Holy Spirit), she knew she had a lot of sin and was pretty miserable (side note: many Japanese people don’t realize they’re sinners until someone points it out to them.  Sin is not a Japanese concept).  That was 24 years ago.

Eventually an older Japanese Christian couple befriended and cared for her – I’m not sure when in those 24 years, but they were significant to her.  They prayed for her when she couldn’t pray.  They shared their lives and their love for Jesus with her even when she couldn’t reciprocate.

A few years ago, she decided to give church another try.  Just last year, from what I understand, she had some kind of realization of Jesus’ grace and presence in her life and rededicated herself to him.

When she first started talking and said that she believed in Jesus basically as soon as she first heard about him, I teared up.  I had so, so, so many opportunities to hear of Jesus and his love – at church, from Christian parents, siblings, and friends, in Sunday school and youth group, at Christian camp…not to mention access to Christian books, radio (Adventures in Odyssey J), music, etc.  I was and am abundantly rich – and yet my heart was so hard for a time.  Her heart, in contrast, was so soft – and ready to receive.

Yet we both had our times of “yada” (yuck – my translation).  Mine (sort of) lasted maybe 6ish years.  Hers lasted over 20.  I, again, had so, so, so many more opportunities to get connected back into the Christian community and back to Jesus (plus continuing to go to church, camp, etc. regularly, a praying mum, etc.).  She had little to no Christian community or influence in Japan – yet she had host moms back in the US praying for her (and this couple – again, that part was a bit fuzzy for me).

Truth be told – I don’t know how much of her story I actually understood, so apologies if I’m botching major details.  But it impressed me:

…that international students in the US need to be pursued and cared for by the American church.  This is such an opportunity and a privilege (and I’m grateful for ministries geared for this).

…that the Japanese church needs to grow in welcoming and receiving Japanese Christians who come to faith in another context (again, I’m grateful for ministries specifically geared toward returnees as the stats are sobering regarding how few become connected/grafted into the Japanese church).

…that I want to share my faith – and our home – with those around me/us more.  I just read about Priscilla and Aquilla’s super cool hospitality and mentoring toward Apollos – that they housed and taught him (after they had housed and been taught by Paul) and then sent him on his way.  Yep, I want this.

…that, at the risk of sounding cliché, I want to be more grateful for and a better steward of the abundance that I’ve received: invested in by Christian family and older Christians in my life, great mentors in college, Kosovo, and Wheaton, opportunities connected to a thriving ministry to “safely” be in “the world” while at PSU, conferences, camp, grad school, etc.

Please join me in thanking God for this lady and the Christians connected to her.  Please pray that her rediscovered faith would grow and deepen.  And please pray that people like her who didn’t have a flying clue about Jesus would hear and respond – and that when they do they would be cared for well by the body of Christ.

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