If I had to sum up the past decade of my life in one word that word would be Grace. Looking back at my 20’s I survived a terrible bike accident that destroyed my nose, survived 2 massive earthquakes, married, had my first son, and walked through a long season of repentance all through God’s grace. When we left Japan in 2011, I was bound a determined to get back to Japan as quickly as I could. We had reached the point of critical mass that year and after exploring all the options; coming back to the states seemed to be the most logical answer to continue ministering in Japan. I had always functioned as a one-man show up to that point. So, I assumed we’d travel around sharing our story and eventually we garner enough funds to return to Japan and continue with the rough plan I had mapped out. All of that changed when we stopped through Columbia, MO for a visit.
I had been encouraged by my brothers who were members of Karis Church in Columbia to meet with one of their elders. I sat down with Rob Gaskin and shared what we had been doing in Japan. After listening he began to throughly tear though my vision for Japan, challenge my motives, and reveal some of my weaknesses. I had never had a conversation like that before and it rocked my world so much that Meg and I decided to stick around and see what Karis was all about. What we found was a loving family full of grace for one another. I became an intern, and learn what it meant to walk in the grace of God not as a one-man show but rather as part of the body of Christ. My new family helped me see that in many ways I had come to idolize Japan in my heart and that I had other deeper idols in there as well. As I wrestled with the idols of control and approval, I was loving shepherded through my calling to minister in Japan and grew as leader to become a deacon. After 5 trips to Japan along with the elders of Karis we were loving set apart to return to Japan and continue the work that we had been called to do. God brought us through some great things in the past decade but being brought into the family of Karis Church is easily the greatest gift of his grace that I have received.
Last weekend we made to long trip back to Missouri from North Carolina to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Karis. We called it a ‘Decade of Grace.’ We spent the weeks building up to it looking back at the previous 10 years and all the grace the God had show us as a church. All of that culminated with a block party for the neighborhood and an anniversary party for the members of Karis. We’re grateful that we were able to be there for 5 of those 10 years we were celebrating and look forward to being a part of the next 10 years by continuing Karis’s vision for church planting in Tokyo.
If you would like to look back at the past 10 years with us and see what we are so thankful for check out the Karis Church Facebook Page here.