Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tokyo Seminar

We're back safe and sound in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We've been reunited with our dear baby, Mary Kate. It's good to be a whole family again. Our little girl sprouted two teeth while we were away and learned to pull herself up to standing. We had fun yesterday watching her new tricks.

I wanted to write briefly about the Saturday seminar I spoke at back in Tokyo. To all who prayed, thank you so much. I believe God answered those prayers. The time really went well. I ended up speaking three times and Hiro Inaba, the man who runs the homeschool organization CHEA Japan, and who hosted us, served as my translator.

Most of the attendees had come from within a 200 mile radius, but there were people who had come from all over the country. The church building, which was beautiful, seated around 850 people. Over 100 people registered at the door, and so the final attendance was somewhere over 700.

I know that numbers are not what's most important but, in a country where there are so few Christians, this kind of turn out was extremely encouraging to the believers there. The pastor of the church said that, in the history of their building, this was only the second time he'd seen so many people! And Hiro said that what was so unique about this gathering is that it was young adults. He told us afterward that it's very rare to see so many Christian young adults attend an event on their own accord.It's hard to measure the effect of the teaching. I felt God's power as I spoke about the power of the gospel being the only thing that can enable us to change. I felt a similar sense of God's Spirit moving when I challenged people to humble themselves and confess sexual temptation to other Christians. Though I got used to having a translator and felt comfortable, there were many times when I was preaching that the messages felt "flat." With an interpreter it's hard to build a sense of momentum. But whenever I thought that, I'd remind myself, "This is God's word! God's word is never flat!" I would then try to preach with the passion and urgency I felt.

And so many times I was overwhelmed at their willingness to listen so attentively to someone speak in another language. Our brothers and sisters in Japan are so hungry for truth. They don't have the endless resources and events that we're so accustomed to. So, to get the chance to serve them was incredible.

The messages were videotaped by a small Korean cable channel. If I understood correctly, they broadcast in both Japan and South Korea. I did a few "greeting spots" for them afterwards, and also did a 20 minute interview with a Christian newspaper in Tokyo that just started up.

Afterwards, people who came up to greet me were very kind in their encouragement. Many had read one or more of the books. Later, one of the staff members of CHEA said that the evaluations they were getting back were positive. Several people said they'd never heard messages that addressed the topic of romance and sex from a biblical perspective.

So, I'm praying that God will encourage and strengthen his people through what I shared. The thing I kept thinking throughout the trip was what an amazing privilege it is to speak about Jesus in any language!

Thanks for reading along and caring about this trip with our family. It's hard to express how much your interest and prayerful concern for us encouraged us. Sharing the trip with you on the blog made it even more meaningful for us. So thanks for reading. And please join me in continuing to pray for the nation of Japan, which so desperately needs the gospel.

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