One Word to Sum Up all of Outreach

This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14
This picture represents not quite a thousand relationships but a lot. -LA County Regional Planning Public Hearing 2/19/14

This article appears is the upcoming Evergreen SGV newsletter.

When I stepped into the role of Outreach Pastor late last year, I knew I had to wait. Before I could recast vision or implement changes in the ministry, I had to sit and listen to our missionaries, our partners, community leaders and most of all, God.

I still have a lot of waiting to do. But from these few months of sitting and observing, I have settled on one word to sum up all of Outreach:

Relationship.

Outreach is all about relationship -relationship with missionaries, relationship with partners overseas and in the community and relationship to Jesus, the One who calls us to reach out and the One we call others to reach out to.

It’s funny because many see Outreach, especially local outreach, as being comprised of programs such as evangelistic rallies, community outreach service projects or short-term missions programs. However, my time has been marked by personal meetings with our missionaries both local and abroad, community leaders and God in prayer. I like to say that my role as Outreach Pastor thus far can best be described as meeting God, meeting others.

Relationships have been key to what God has done through Evergreen SGV in our community and around the world. Our relationship with Don Julian Elementary over the years brought forth the Community Food Pantry and Thanksgiving Celebration. Our relationship with the Workman Mill Association and community leaders brought about the opportunity to testify at a Regional Planning hearing against an adult establishment in our community where multiple violations and crime were committed. Key relationships have spurred and sustained our ministry in East Asia and we are committed to Japan primarily because of our relationships with Ian Nagata, Garrett Inouye, ChildD and the Kagawa family.

Moving forward, I don’t anticipate anything changing Outreach being all about relationship. If anything, new relationships will be developed, existing ones will be strengthened and more friendships will continue in partnership for the spread of the gospel in Avocado Heights/La Puente, greater San Gabriel Valley and to the ends of the earth.

Outreach is all about relationship. But then again, such can be said about any other ministry or the Christian life.

Hopefully you won’t have to wait to discover that.

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Reflections on Japan

Reflections on Japan

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 “Reflections on Japan”

For Such a Time as This

Fuji,_Japan_-_Cherry_Blossoms_and_Mount
Wait.

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.