Last I wrote, YWAM Tokyo had sent a team down to Kumamoto to help with the emergency earthquake work. All of our team members have since returned and shared good reports of the efforts down there. Much has come together but the people of that area could still use prayer. If you have this area on your heart and mind and would like to know more, please send me an email and I would love to discuss further.
In other news, one of my dear friends is getting married in Washington in November, I am therefore beginning plans for a trip to the States relatively soon. Please pray that God will give me wisdom in planning this trip as there are many variables to consider. I deeply love the opportunity to visit home but I must also consider my responsibilities here. OH, I would also love prayer for cheap tickets.
I am currently focusing on three main things. 1) Japanese language study. I have been intentionally practicing conversation more and more with Japanese friends and I am seeing growth from the grammar learned in classes. 2) North Korea Intercession. Still continuing to meet and pray for North Korea as that is a place I care deeply for. 3) Design. Been working a lot for my local church Cornerstone Tokyo and its been great. Also, I am nearly finished building the bilingual version of the YWAM Tokyo website. If you would like to see more of what I have been working on send me a message and I can share.
Lastly, I would like to share about my need for a new camera. My previous camera served me over 7 years and was a great asset. It has come to the end of its life and I really need to get a new one. However, such purchases can be difficult. Would you prayerfully consider giving even a little toward this goal? I created a 2min informational video here if you are interested:
Greetings! I hope this finds you well. Here in Japan, we are just wrapping up a set of holidays that are affectionately called “Golden Week”. During this week, I took a short personal trip to South Korea to visit a missionary family there. I have visited them many times on previous trips and it was great to spend time with the mother, father, and their three little daughters. It was a greatly encouraging time for me as I was able to rest, love on the family and receive so much from them.
The husband is one of my heroes. He has prepared for over 10 years to be a pastor and this last week, I was able to attend his ordination ceremony. This graduation coincided with the 100 year anniversary of the seminary that he attended and it was a great honor to be able to attend. Several hundred people gathered in the chapel and I was one of only two foreigners in the building.
This man is my hero because he is both faithful in ministry and wholehearted in being a husband and father. I was almost brought to joyful tears as he shared with me his personal journey of becoming a pastor the evening before his ordination. He talked about how God lead him to pastor but also how God had strongly told him that he is not to put ministry before his wife or children.
Being in this Korean family’s home for a week, I again was confronted with the wonderful ways that the two parents love their kids and each other. I am so excited for what God is doing in their family and I was able to share with them, that I believe God will use this family as an example to many others over the years. They have such a heart for discipleship and I believe that God is going to give them more and more influence.
Earthquake in Kumamoto
As you likely already know, one of the southern islands of Japan was hit by a large 7.3-magnitude earthquake. Then shortly after another weaker quake of 6.3-magnitude. Around 44,000 people stayed in shelters, over 800 people were injured, and 9 people died. You can read the detailed account here: The Guardian.
Thank all of you who contacted me immediately after asking to see if I was okay. That made me feel loved. As you can see in the image above, the earthquake hit an area very far south of where I live in Tokyo and my surrounding areas were unaffected. However, I do have one friend who lives in Kumamoto and after contacting her, I thankfully learned that she was safe. She did report that there were several buildings around her with lots of damage and asked for lots of prayer for the area.
My YWAM base prayed and decided to quickly mobilize a team that went down to the affected area and volunteered with relief efforts. This team of people is composed of hard working individuals that love God and people. And I know for a fact that they went with two missions in mind: 1) help in practical service 2) bring a message of hope and also lots of prayer for the whole region. I am excited to hear the stories from this team. I hear that after regrouping in Tokyo, they plan on sending a second larger team down to continue the work there. Please be praying for these people and those who live in Kumamoto.
Spring is my absolute favorite season in Tokyo. The weather is delightful and the city shines the most beautiful. There is a freshness in the air and everything seems more bright and lifeful. Right now the Cherry Blossoms or 桜 “sakura” are in full bloom. It is during this precious moment of ephemeral beauty that Japan stops to experience 花見 or “flower viewing”.
As I have shared in previous posts, recently I have been focusing on building more relationships with Japanese people centered around culture, art, and food. Starting mid 2015 and developing further into this year, I have had the joy of making many new friends. These foundations, I believe, will create the opportunity for doors. I am asking Holy Spirit for his guidance and also the inflowing/outflowing of the love of Jesus to be able to reflect him and make Him known in these relationships. I am still learning how to do this but so far it is greatly enjoyable. Already, I have been able to connect people with other missionaries in my YWAM community and also people from my church in Tokyo.
Last week I went with some of these new friends to enjoy the beautiful gardens in Japan. The gallery of photos above were all taken during that day. I tried to capture the faces of many of the people I saw there to show a glimpse into this part of Japanese culture. This day was so much fun!
A few months prior, I had gone to a cafe to do some writing. While I was there, a Japanese couple came up to me and introduced themselves. I ended up talking with them for around 3 hours and they invited me to go with them to 花見. It ended up being a rather large group with around 20 people. About half were Japanese and the rest were international friends from countries including: Germany, France, and Sweden. I brought some of my friends from church and it was wonderful.
One of the other community building opportunities that I was able to enjoy was with one of my Mongolian friends from church. She recently got baptized and now is passionately investing in Mongolian people she meets in Japan. We decided to host a Mongolian food night and invite both our non-Christian and Christian friends. We are now planning on doing more events like this and inviting more and more non-Christian friends. I am excited about this opportunity.
Another cool friendship is with a guy I met during an art walk in a part of Tokyo called Roppongi. He was volunteering at a street installation during the Roppongi Art Walk and I got to talk with him for quite a while. Later I had coffee with him and my illustrator/roommate friend and we talked a lot about Japan and art. I ended up getting coffee with him again at a delightful cafe in another part of Tokyo called SOL Coffee. I got to meet the owner of the cafe and hear her story of starting the business with her husband. Now we are dreaming of maybe doing a collaborative art project sometime.
Things at my church, Cornerstone Tokyo, have been going really well too. I am serving on the worship team there and have started playing keyboard again. From time to time I work in the kids ministry as well but my main focus is on hospitality. One of the fun parts of having church in Tokyo is that you meet people from all over the world and it has been fun greeting new people, deepening friendships and doing life with others during other times in the week.
I am continuing to teach every Friday at Yotsuya International School. The students there are wonderful and God has been giving me more and more love for them. Recently I got to attend a graduation ceremony for some of the students from that school. Also I have been helping at my friends private English school and we celebrated with some of the middle school students there who also recently graduated. I love them all!
Thank you for your continued prayer and support. I would ask for prayer that God would continue to teach me how to love people the way that He does. It seems that he has given me countless opportunities this year to build relationship and community with many new people. I am excited about this but definitely need His guidance and love.
It has been far too long since I last wrote an update here. Please let me extend my apologies. The last few months have been a time of contemplation and dreaming about many things. I hope to briefly share some vision in this post about this next year.
Wow! Is it true that 2016 has already come? It is hard to grasp that I came to Japan for the first time nearly 5 years ago. I am honored to live in such a wonderful part of the world. More and more though, I am beginning to see the harsher realities of this nation. And the great need for God’s kingdom to invade in every way. Loneliness, suicide, depression and hopelessness are rampant. And it is a big thing to ponder how God would want to introduce himself, manifest his presence and bathe this land in hope filled love. Frankly it can be overwhelming at times. And I am beginning to see more and more how incredibly vital it is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Maybe right now that is the one of the biggest daily battles. What does it look like to truly keep him first in all things? What does it mean to walk toward him and not be pushed down by a consuming concentration on the wind, water and waves. How can we look to him alone and disciple others to do the same.
Recently I have been dreaming more and more about working with creatives in Japan. Its seems that God has given me opportunities to connect with so many types of people and I love that. However, I am beginning to suspect that one of the areas I could have a significant impact is in that of the creative. We have so many talented artists and creatives at our base. Story tellers, writers, illustrators, dancers, photographers, foodies, videographers, designers, to name a few. And Tokyo is full of creatives. Right now what I am pondering and considering are ways that God would allow me to build relationship with non-Christian Japanese and international creatives. I want to pull creatives into the international community that I live with and also enter the other abundant creative worlds in Tokyo. My expectation is that Holy Spirit will move. Please be praying for me as I ponder these things. I am hoping that God will deposit ideas and set up interactions with creatives so that more people can know Jesus.
In 2016, I plan to also continue:
- Working at Yotsuya International School and loving on the amazing students there.
- Praying with my team of international missionaries for North Korea, South Korea and Japan.
- Partnering with the local church to train young Japanese Christians and get them excited about evangelism in Japan.
- Connect with other missionaries in Asia and abroad (if God allows) with the intent purpose of pursuing unity and loving the church.
I am so grateful for each of you that prays, supports me financially, and send me words of encouragement. Thank you for being a base of support while I live in Japan. I miss you and sometimes wish that I had a Stargate that could be used to visit each of you at regular intervals. I had the opportunity over the Christmas season to visit my family in Washington State. I took some time to travel around some and connect with a few of you. I wish I had had time to see everyone. Maybe next time we can hang when I visit the States. Oh, and you are always welcome to come visit Tokyo! Really, please come… you should do it… what are you waiting for? Buy your ticket already! Love you guys! – Devin
Japan is full of beauty. It is best enjoyed in person but I figure, one of the next best things is gorgeous video. If you would like to see some beautifully captured 4K video featuring many parts of Japan, you can feast your eyes through this YouTube Channel. Enjoy.
Last week, I attended a conference in Townsville, Australia called YWAM Together. This event was announced many months ago and God put it on my heart to attend. It was designed to gather missionaries working with YWAM around the world to share stories, worship and partner together with what God is doing globally. It was a really great week. I will try and briefly identity a few of the many highlights.
Worshiping with over 1,300 missionaries from 73 nations
Each night there would be both worship and celebration of culture as dancers, singers and performers from different nations would take the stage and lead worship in their unique flavor. Featured above is a group of dancers from South Korea. As they danced they were praying the words of the passage from Psalms 27.
Reaching every last language on earth with the Bible
Currently the Christian Bible has been translated fully into 531 distinct languages and partially translated into approximately 3000 distinct languages. YWAM is partnering globally to translate the Bible fully into 95% of all known languages and at least some of its text into 100% of all known languages by 2033.
Bonding with friends
I had a fun time with my Canadian friend Kaare who has been with me in Tokyo for 4 years. We had the opportunity to connect with several old friends as well as make many new friends from around the world. Hoping that God will bring us to some of those people again. It is fun to be part of something with operating locations around the globe and it helps to maintain a healthy perspective of the big picture things that God is up to around the world right now.
Artist and Communicator
I got to attend a fantastic lecture that refueled some of my passions regarding art and other communication mediums. So much to say about this topic that I actually don’t know what to put here. Been thinking a ton about how God uses story to reveal himself to humanity. Wondering what kinds of stories, ideas and things of Him can be communicated… what is possible through the arts and through story. Dreaming. Wanting to see more of this in Japan.
This update is rather late! If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably already seen several pictures. However, I did want to take the time to write about two huge trips that I took recently. Both have had a profound impact on me and there is much to share. For this update, I will strive for brevity. If however, you would like a much more detailed account, please feel free to write me with questions.
I went to Osaka, Japan last month for an event called Home Coming Japan Gathering. (See website here) This several day event had around 3000 international Christians in attendance from over 30 different nations. The focus of this event was reconciliation. We spent each day together in worship and intentional intercession for Japan and surrounding nations. Then, publicly, there were set aside moments where fathers were repenting to sons and sons to fathers. There was blessing and forgiveness and it was beautiful. Also there were set aside times where hundreds of pastors from China, South Korea, Japan and other nations repented on behalf of their nations and blessed the other nations. There was also a similar time set aside for pastors from Germany and Japan. It is very difficult to try and summarize well the many many powerful stories from this event but I was moved to tears on many accounts.
I am really excited for what God seems to be doing with the Global Church. I really believe that He is restoring more unity in his Bride and that many good things will come from this.
Immediately after this event, I had the great honor of flying to South Korea with a small team of international missionaries. Our small team was composed of four people from three countries that have been meeting together weekly to pray for North Korea. We went to South Korea together to connect with several friends, pastors and missionaries living there. We got to hear wonderful stories about the things that God is doing and also spend a lot of time with people who are working with ministries or organizations focused on North Korea. During our time there, we met with 2 students/staff at the University for North Korean Studies. We had a great time of talking and praying with them. Also during our time there we got to pray near the Blue House (South Korea’s equivalent of the United States’ White House) and also the government building dedicated to unification between the North and South. Also we got to go with one of our missionary friends who has worked directly with many North Korean people that have escaped to South Korea to a place that over looks the border. It was very wonderful to be able to pray together with her for both the North and the South.
For the last two days of our trip, we got to stay with a family that I deeply love in South Korea. They are very wonderful friends that I have had the privilege of staying with 3 times now. The husband and wife have been missionaries in various locations and now the husband is helping pastor a church. They have an amazing gift for hospitality and love to create a place where missionaries can come, be refreshed, and encouraged. We were overwhelmingly loved on by this amazing family. OH, and it also was really fun to play with their three beautiful kids.