INTRODUCTION I came to Karis Church 3 years ago looking for a church home following college graduation. I was soon to be married and had learned that Karis Church offered an internship program which highly interested me. The longer I was at Karis the more I realized just how Christ-centered this “body of believers” were and just how little I actually knew about church, let alone Scripture.
DEVELOPMENT After months of meeting people, joining a community group and becoming a member I eventually passed the application process and became an intern starting the summer of 2011. That internship ends May 24 of this year and it has been quite the humbling process. I don’t know who I’d be today without all the training I’ve received from Kevin and Rob not to mention my fellow interns. Over the past two years my perspective of life, marriage, the church and so many other things has changed for the better. I’ve been rebuked more times than I can count (I deserved it every time) and the amount of growth I’ve experienced is hard to measure because it is so abundant. I’ve learned executive and administrative skills, project management, leadership development, preaching, teaching, counseling, entrepreneurship, team building, how to listen (still learning this), and the list goes on. Friends, grace abounds and I have been given much.
THE CALLING I don’t know much about where I, personally, am headed in life but I know there are two things God has clearly laid on my heart: 1. I believe God is calling me to be a pastor. This is why I embarked on the internship in the first place. 2. That my ministry will in some way be tied to Japan either long term overseas or in service here Stateside.
For roughly 7 years God has kept the nation of Japan on my heart. I’ve had the opportunity to go twice and will be going for a third time May 28 of this year. When I first came to Karis Church I learned that they were involved with mission work in Brazil. I am very passionate about the international church and was pleased to learn this. As time went on I began to wonder if this wonderful community I was now a part of and would soon be serving with could minister to Japan in some way way similar to what they were doing in Brazil. I brought it up multiple times prior to becoming an intern but nothing really came to fruition.
Then it happened…March 11, 2011 one of history’s largest earthquakes devastated the Tohoku region of Japan and an enormous tsunami followed suit. Japan suffered massive amounts of damage and the death toll was climbing each time I checked the news. At the time I felt as though I HAD to do something. I was scouring the Internet, reading articles and watching video clips, looking for some avenue for me to go to Japan and help with relief. I learned that Drew and Megumi were leading a survey team for a organization called Crash Japan (odd name if you ask me). I wanted to fly over and join them. I told God over and over “Send me! I’ll go!” but no matter how hard I tried the answer over and over was no. I couldn’t come up with funds on such short notice, Crash Japan and Churches Helping Churches didn’t want random 23 year-old Americans who liked Japan, they needed individuals with specific skill sets not to mention people who could speak Japanese. I was also soon to be married that upcoming May and my beautiful, patient bride-to-be was struggling with being sympathetic and patient towards me and my desires, while simultaneously attempting to plan a wedding with an overly distracted fiancé. Needless to say the answer was clear: NOT NOW.
However, God did use my vocal passion for the gospel in Japan to get the attention of one of the pastors at Karis. Rob Gaskin asked me to type up a proposal for a short term trip that he would share with the other elders. It was then decided that I would help plan and lead a vision trip to see if Japan would be another country our church would pursue partnerships with and potentially church plant in. So the summer of 2012 our lead pastor, Kevin Larson, myself and our 3 other hand-picked team members (one of them being my wife) headed overseas to Chiba prefecture in Japan to meet with an Acts29 candidate from Australia, John Evans. We spent a week in Japan learning about the church landscape and Japanese culture with the goal being that we would fall in love with the nation and that God would specifically call our church to pursue mission there. Before we even returned to the States I knew Kevin and the rest of our team were on board and that we would have the opportunity to start planning future work in Japan.
THE RESULT After last year’s trip we knew we wanted to begin to contribute to the mission in Japan. The question now was how? Where? With who?
So I began planning this year’s trip with the goal of meeting as many people as possible and learning as much as we can in hopes to establish a stable partnership or at least to help clarify if, when, and where to possibly send a team and plant a church. There is much we don’t know and there are so many remaining questions to be answered but I believe God is leading Karis Church into a life-long bond with the church in Japan.
In the mean time the goal is to make as many contacts as possible in hopes of establishing partnerships. This means doing a great deal of digging and research as well as continued annual trips. Pray that God would bring about clarity and that we would trust His plans and timing concerning these matters.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY This lengthy post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention at least a small part of Drew and Megumi’s story and involvement with all that I have written about thus far.
Drew spent the past 4+ years serving in Japan. Through a series of complicated and difficult events God led Drew and his wife Megumi back to the States so that they could take a step back from all the chaos they were enduring (a book could be written on all that they have been through) and recast vision for where they were headed in the future. What’s amazing is that God led them to Columbia, MO where they could get involved and serve with Karis Church. Drew has taken on the same 2-year internship that I’ll soon be finishing. Now because of these change of events Drew and Megumi who know Japanese and a great deal about Japan can help lead and guide our research/vision teams to Japan. Their knowledge and specific skill set is an enormous asset to our church!
The way God was working simultaneously in their lives as well as mine and Lori’s is incredible. The timing of everything inspires awe within me and I’m so grateful to have my brother and sister here to serve and lead alongside with from Columbia to Japan.
CONTINUED WORK As I’ve states multiple times there are many questions to answer and much work to be done. At this point all we know is “Japan”. We don’t know what route to take nor who to work with. Pray for these matters. I personally promise to continue committing myself to this ministry endeavor and prayer is what we need most!
If you have any questions, thoughts or comments feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to give a tax-deductible donation towards our efforts you can do so by going to karis.onthecity.org/give and selecting the Karis Japan fund.