Hanami is coming up. For those of you who don’t know, this holiday specifies the blooming of the cherry blossoms in Japan. It is a spectacularly beautiful sight where millions of tiny pink, white, and red flowers open up and reveal their pretty subtle petals to all of Japan for a fleeting two weeks, and then fall from their branches until the next spring.
It is an almost unbearably short amount of time for such beauty, but while that beauty is in season, it is undoubtedly the center of attention. Japanese people everywhere stop what they are doing for the precious weeks and just sit with friends and family in parks and by rivers to awe at nature’s magnificent serenity.
Now, you are probably wondering why this missionary is rambling on about flowers instead of explaining what he has been doing in his mission field. The answer to that is merely that I love seeing my God’s personality and character exposed in the wonders of His creation, and this amazing phenomenon is filled with just that.
You see, the Lord has begun to open up his flowers since I have arrived in Japan. He has begun to bring ministries into bloom that I could not have imagined, and the beauty that I get to see every day is awe-inspiring. I have no idea how long this bloom will last or how long I will get to see them, but while they are here, they have my undivided attention. I pray that their beauty would catch yours as well.
The first fragile flower has sprouted in a small section of a town named Tennoji dedicated completely to semi-legal prostitution. It is called Tobito and it is lined with over one hundred and fifty small “restaurants” each boasting a highlighted girl at the entrance and a broker who manages the money exchange. Every day hundreds of men spend money to fill a void in their hearts, and women who know nothing of their true identity and value in Christ give their bodies over to those men.
Last week, at my house, a group of like-minded believers came together and decided to prayerfully and passionately ask the Lord how we can end this. We will be meeting twice a month to pray and plan a way to shut down every door in Tobito by allowing the Holy Spirit to invade that dark place and fill every heart with the true love of Christ instead of empty earthly passions that quickly fade to disappointment.
The second flower blooms only at night. Club Ministry. The clubs in Japan are filled every weekend with men and women who are looking to fill the emptiness of their souls. They choose to cover that lack with alcohol, admiration, or sex. They walk into those clubs knowing they are there because they are not content. Which is why the harvest is so unbelievably ripe! I and others have begun to go down on a Friday or Saturday and simply allow the Holy Spirit to direct us to whomever He desires, and the fruit has been incredible! Connections are being made, hearts are being opened, and lives are beginning to be changed! Amen!
The third and fourth flowers are much more natural in that they happen in my every day life. Work and study. My english lessons provide an incredible avenue into the lives and hearts of the adults and children that I teach. Often I am able to share pieces of God’s love and truth while teaching them of the intricacies of English, or pray over them for healing and a faster grasp of the language. My language study, as well, generally occurs by myself at a college campus near me where I am constantly in contact with students I can speak with, pray over, and share the gospel to.
I understand this is running long, and I may be losing your attention (if I haven’t already lost it!), but this is what I want to get across: I don’t know how long these seasons will last, I just know that they are in season right now. With that, I need you to recognize the beauty of the seasons, because I promise you, they are filled with beauty. I need your prayers every day as we enter the dark places, and I need your support and encouragement through these challenges.
I am not writing these blogs merely because its fun to chat about what I am doing. I am writing them because I need you to come alongside me and to fight this fight with me, even from across the world. Your prayers help. Your encouragement and support helps. And your finances help as well.
Don’t miss out on the beauty that is happening. Don’t wait till the flowers fall to look at the trees. Experience what God is doing in Japan.