October 15, 2013

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.

This is not only a beautiful promise, it is one that seems to apply particularly to Japan. There are few if any nations that are as spiritually dry, statistically speaking, as Japan. The figures may have changed slightly since then, but the latest data I have seen indicates that Japan has the second largest number of missionaries in any country in the world, (after Brazil) but it holds an unassailable position as the country with the lowest rate of return for spiritual investment, in missionaries, funds, facilities, man hours, you name it. It has been called “the graveyard of missionaries” with good reason! There are few physical dangers – on that scale, it’s one of the safest places in the world – but the risk of discouragement and/or burnout can be extreme. The flip side of that is that the spiritual rewards for those who persevere are magnificent. When you are driven to seek the Lord because of the lack of visible results for your efforts, the level of fellowship becomes sweet indeed. That’s not at all to say that results are unimportant, but it is to say that they are not to take precedence over the Lord.

This is of course the story of my life, and of my parents before me. My mother told me that on at least one occasion my father prostrated himself on the floor, crying out to God, “If I am standing in the way of revival in Japan, then take me out of the way!” I empathize completely! My only reason for not wanting the Lord to return right NOW is the many people with whom I have shared the Gospel in love who have not yet accepted it. Just yesterday I was hearing a Japanese pastor talking about the same problem. He lives in Oita Prefecture, where 450 years ago ¼ of the population was Christian, but today Christians are few and far between. We pray for the fulfillment of this Scripture! I am never to give up but keep my focus on God, more than myself, my ministry, or my circumstances. As I shepherd the flock here I must train them in spiritual warfare against the subtle pressures that can be more dangerous than open opposition. I am to expect God to be God, true to His Word, and I am to teach the believers to do likewise.

Father, thank You for the various good things You are doing in and around this church. Thank You that one issue that was weighing on me seems to be clearing up beautifully before my upcoming visit to the US. I pray that what You have done there would be a powerful lesson and encouragement to the other believers as well. Help us all take one day, one step, at a time, trusting You, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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