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TagsAkha asian access basketball Brooke Fraser Cambodia Christian Compassion Cory Ishida DudePerfect E. Asia Easter Evergreen SGV Garrett Inouye global outreach Haiti HBS human trafficking Ian Nagata Iran ITDP Jamaica Japan Jeremy Lin Karen Lausanne Leeland Maitrichit Church Missions Operation World Orphan Sunday Passion for the Nations Perspectives prayer religious freedom S. Africa Short-term missions Siloam Bible School SIM Starbucks Thailand Tim Keller Tohoku Tokyo voice of the martyrs ZOE
Books I’ve recently finished
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- Lit! by Tony Reinke (Read this book before reading other books!)
- The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
- Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Trip
- The Missionary Call by M. David Sills (great read on discerning the will of God)
- Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard (must read for husbands)
- The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins (interesting book and even more interesting how popular this is among youth today)
Current books I am reading
- Tender Care by various (Helpful book on missionary care)
- Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree
- Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian
- Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Spy by Eric Metaxas (I'm really enjoying this Biography)
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Kindle was made for fictional works like this)
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones (The BEST bible for children I've found thus far)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
In 2004, I applied to go on a short-term summer missions trip to Japan. I had developed a heart for Japan after serving as the Missionary Support Group leader to a certain Ian Nagata, who had gone to Japan on a summer team about a year earlier.
There were not enough people to send a team to Japan that year, so I was redirected to E. Asia, where I would eventually return on five different occasions. I was able to embark on ministry trips to other countries since then, just not Japan.
That was until a couple of weeks ago, when the Lord allowed me to finally visit Japan, particularly the Sendai, Nagoya and Tokyo areas over the course of three weeks. Here are my reflections on the time: Continue reading
That was what Elliott Snuggs of Asian Access advised after the tsunami hit Japan in 2011. Though it was difficult seeing other churches heading out to the devastated Tohoku region, we waited.
On May 7-29, we will embark on the biggest surge of ministry overseas in recent memory. And it all came about by waiting.
Last September, we sent out our worship pastor Ian Nagata to roam the land of Japan to discern his long-term ministry there. A few weeks later, we commissioned Garrett Inouye for a two-year term with Asian Access as a church planting associate in the Tohoku region.
The Prayer Council had been praying for a missions trip where they could train up churches in prayer ministry. They were invited by Asian Access to do prayer ministry at their annual staff and missionary retreat in Japan this year. However, Pastor Ron was hesitant about committing until they heard who the speaker was going to be.
When Pastor Cory was asked by Asian Access to speak at their retreat, he was open yet reluctant, because of his reluctance to travel. When he heard members of the Prayer Council were invited, he knew God may be calling him and his wife Reine to Japan.
Elliott had asked me if I wanted to attend the retreat but I saw no reason to, until I found out Pastor Cory, Auntie Reine and members of the Prayer Council were going. I asked Pastor Ron if I could be an honorary Prayer Council member and assist in their ministry, as I already made a promise to Ian and Garrett that I would visit them within their first six months in Japan.
After the retreat, Pastor Cory will be speaking to various groups of pastors in the Tohoku region. This came about due to the impactful time of sharing he had with a visiting group of pastors from Japan on the day Garrett was commissioned. The prayer team will train churches in the Tohouku region in prayer ministry. I will spend a week with Garrett and pay for my family to come join me to see Garrett’s church and thank the individuals and families that have supported him. We will visit Kelly’s family in Nagoya during the following week and then head to Tokyo on the weekend to visit Ian, his church and also thank the individuals and families that have supported him.
I believe it is because we waited, that God has allowed us to embark on ministries with a longer projected impact than if we had simply responded right after the tsunami. We are heading into the Tohoku region when all the major relief organizations have pulled out.
Even prior to the tsunami, our ministry in Japan had grown dormant to the point where people were questioning whether we were even called to Japan. But our ministry in Japan is not done.
God just wanted us to wait for such a time as this.
My search for the best children’s bible has ended.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me …” -John 5:39 (ESV)
I was searching for a children’s bible that ties the biblical accounts together into a unifying gospel theme, rather than reduces them into “moralistic” stories like so many children’s bibles do. The title of The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones speaks for itself and I love the tagline, “Every story whispers his name”, because that is true of the Bible itself (John 5:39).
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” -C.S. Lewis
I was searching for a children’s bible that I could glean from as well. Here is a book that distills biblical passages to simple yet profound truths, in a manner that makes these biblical accounts refreshing and compelling. I look forward to reading this children’s bible each night as much as my daughter.
Finally, I was searching for a children's bible with illustrations that would cause children (and this child) to pause in awe and wonder at God’s glory. The illustrations by Jago capture the emotion of each character in a unique style that can be appreciated by children young and old. For young children, it's often the pictures that open their hearts to the stories.
“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian–from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning–a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.” -Tim Keller
Since discovering this amazing children's bible, it has been a staple in our bedtime routine. When my 3-year-old daughter reminds me to read from it each night, she affectionately refers to it as the "Jesus Bible".
For children's bibles, it shouldn't be referred to any other way.
Have you ever been thirsty before?
I mean thirsty to the point where it feels like your mouth is filled with cotton balls and you yearn for one taste of water. Just one taste.
Thirsty to the point where your mouth is so parched, your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth and you’d find relief in swallowing your saliva but that too has run dry.
Thirsty after playing basketball or running on a hot summer day it doesn’t even matter if it’s lukewarm, you’re dying for some water.
If you’ve ever felt that way before, then you probably don’t have any idea of what Jesus experienced when he uttered on the cross, “I thirst”, in John 19:28. Continue reading
As Pastor Cory shared recently, one of the guiding principles for our church in the area of missions is to “make it personal”. We are currently experiencing the amazing fruit of this:
- One of our families adopts a girl from an orphanage in E. Asia and develops a relationship with the Orphanage director in the mid-nineties.
- Various construction, dental and medical teams are sent to minister to the children and staff beginning in 1999.
- The first summer team was sent in 2004 to specifically minister to the children by running a VBS camp. Teams are sent every summer thereafter.
- Evergreen SGV commits to supporting the staff of the “Precious” children of the orphanage, those children with severe special needs around 2006.
- The orphanage is shut down late 2011 but the orphanage director reaches out to Evergreen SGV to consider adopting six of the special needs children eligible for adoption. The director cites that Evergreen SGV has been like “family” to the children.
- Four families stepped forward to adopt four of the children (one from one of our church plants). Two are already in the states, with the other two arriving next week.
What began as a personal relationship between a family and an orphanage director turned into a fully invested personal endeavor on the part of the church. A few of the children we once loved and embraced as our little sisters and brothers on our short-term trips, are now actually a part of our church family.
Such personal endeavors should not be foreign to us because we worship a personal God. And God made it personal when He sent His Son to this world to live a perfect life, die a sinner’s death and be raised from the dead so that we could live through Him.
I remember on that first summer trip in 2004 being greeted by a little five-year old boy who took the time to shake each of our hands. Today he sits in service among our church family now 12 years old.
You could imagine my joy when I brought him to my office to see a picture I have kept for many years.
A picture of me and him as that five-year old boy.
Make it personal.
For those praying through Operation World, we were blessed a few days ago with a series of quotes on missions (check out some awesome quotes on prayer from the book here). May these powerful quotes encourage you in your prayers for the nations.
The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.
If Jesus be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.
The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
All God’s giants are weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned that God was with them.
If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honour, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?
If God has called you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.
As long as there are millions destitute of theWord of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ,it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both.
The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.
The weakness of much current mission work is that we betray the sense that what is yet to be done is greater than what Christ has already done.The world’s gravest need is less than Christ’s great victory.
Expect great things from God.Attempt great things for God.
Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.Then, the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
Bishop Phillips Brooks
I have but one passion – it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field, and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.
Count Nikolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf
For whatever reason, the apostle Paul has a reputation of being a “lone ranger”. Perhaps it was because he was a pioneer church planter and could never seem to settle in one place. Or maybe it’s because he appeared to operate under a “my way or the highway” mentality (See Acts 15:36).
Whatever the reason, this reputation gets passed on to missionaries. Missionaries can be the loneliest people in the church because they have a hard time finding others who share their passion for the nations. They can easily take on this “lone ranger” mentality and go out on their own.
But on closer examination, the apostle Paul was deeply invested and connected in community. Just one look at the end of his letter to the Romans and you can tell that his relationships were deep and personal even if Paul was away in another city.
And so my heart for our future missionaries at Evergreen SGV is that they may all be deeply invested and connected in community as Paul was. That is why about a year ago, I started a Missions Mentoring Group to meet monthly with people within our church who sense a calling overseas and are wrestling with what to do now. It is amazing how powerful it is when like-minded people with similar passions gather. All of sudden people realize they are not alone and do not have to move forward all by themselves.
The culmination of our gatherings was our first ever Missions Mentoring Retreat held from May 18-20. There was no “speaker” except the ten individuals who shared their life stories, highlighting how God gave them a heart for the nations. There was no “program” except the questions and time of prayer that followed each sharing. What resulted was a powerful time where each person was affirmed and encouraged in who God had called them to be.
In a few months, about half of the group will be off in different places around the world. If they were merely individuals going about their own ways, it would be a sorry end. But they will go out as brothers and sisters together bound and compelled by the love of God to the nations.
Let’s pray that this reputation would stand with every missionary we send out.
With Mother’s Day approaching, I am reminded of a message I gave to the MOPS group at Evergreen SGV how within the love of Jesus, lies a Mother’s love.
Let’s all remember to thank our mothers (and spiritual mothers) for reflecting the love of Jesus.
Here are a few quick excerpts:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! -Matthew 23:37 (ESV)
Jesus protects like a mother hen
“Perhaps that is why He likened His heart and love to the love of a mother hen. You see a hen would not just provide shelter and protection for her young. She was their shelter and protection. Her very body would be a hiding place of security for her chicks and they could find rest under her wings.”
“In the same way, Jesus desires and longs to gather us and be our protection, our hiding place and refuge. We see that Jesus would literally protect us from God’s wrath and punishment with His body, by dying on the cross for us. But I want all of us to realize that this offer of protection is not a one-time thing. Jesus desires to be our protection, our refuge and hiding place for the rest of our lives and even into eternity.”
Jesus defends like a mother hen
“Have you ever seen a hen in comparison to her chicks? She is quite an intimidating presence and for good reason. She has to defend her chicks from predators, even when her chicks have not hatched from their eggs. If you ever see a mother hen defend her young, you know how fierce she can be. You might as well put a sign on a mother hen to all predators, “Don’t mess with my chicks!””
“In the same way, we must remember that Jesus fiercely defended us on the cross. He suffered ridicule, rejection and shame and endured the wrath of God -everything we deserved. But we also must remember that Jesus actively defends His followers daily, pleading before the throne of God for us. He is active in the lives of His followers, fighting for them against the pressures and temptations of the world.”
Jesus gives life like a mother hen
“And we look at a mother hen who provides protection for her young and fiercely defends them just so that her young would not only survive, but have a chance to live. She is willing to sacrifice everything just so that her chicks can grow and thrive. She gives life to her young.”
“You see Jesus wanted to give the people of Jerusalem the opportunity of a life with Him. He desired to gather them so that they could enter into a relationship with Him where He could protect, defend and give life to them. Jesus would pour out abundant life and change, transform and grow His people right then and throughout eternity.”
Recently I was shocked to discover the apparent suicide of Tom White, executive director of Voice of the Martyrs. That his suicide came amidst reports of an ongoing molestation allegation against him with a 10-year old girl was a greater shock I am still trying to get over.
Voice of the Martyrs is a ministry I rely on to stay up to date with the persecuted church around the world. White’s column is the first thing I often read when I open up the latest issue.
I can’t imagine the amount of despair White must have felt to take his own life amidst this allegation. Many have looked to him to be a voice for the persecuted and now are seemingly at a loss of words as this story has surprisingly gone under the radar.
I can’t imagine the amount of guilt this 10-year old girl must carry by feeling responsible for White’s death. This coupled with the lifelong hurt that may have been afflicted on her (and other children) is too much to bear for any soul.
The Church may respond in shame, staying mum at the news of another apparent fall of its respected leaders. The world may respond in cynicism, adding White’s name to a long list of religious leaders accused of molestation. But my response is simple:
Help, because I am a father of a young daughter and the thought of anybody lifting a finger against her rips me apart.
Help, because I am a pastor and I would be naive to think that I am immune to the snares and temptations that have taken down others before me.
Help, because there are so many parties affected here that need healing from God, who alone is Faithful and True.
Lord God, please help.