So here we are in Sapporo, Japan! I haven’t blogged for a while as we haven’t had easy web access. I’ll fill you in on some details:
We left Clydach, Wales on Feb 15th 2010, drove to London, Heathrow where we flew out with Singapore airlines with a one-way ticket to Japan… via Singapore! There at the international HQ we had a month of linguistics training and orientation into OMF and Asian culture, which we found helpful and enjoyable.
We were also blessed by visiting a few different Singaporean churches. At one house church, I met a Chinese Singaporean, who had become a Christian in last few weeks. He was a working man, husband and father and was now leading his whole family in The Way. It was exciting to meet him and hear how God had turned his life around to now seek to live for Christ. He still had many questions; he wasn’t sure about jargon words and the ‘etiquette’ of praying out loud for each other – it was quite refreshing!
He was also an eldest son and was wrestling with the common Asian issue of respect for non-Christian parents. Coming from a Buddhist/Confucian background, respect for elders generally (and parents in particular) is an essential virtue. The eldest son is responsible for looking after the family altar and the worship of the family’s ancestors. To deny this responsibility would be seen as a huge insult and certainly disrespectful. The Bible calls us to honour our parents, but also to worship no one but Yahweh. What was he to do? How could he show love and respect to his parents, whilst at the same time not worshipping them or his ancestors?
As I listened to this man share his dilemma, I was quite aware that this was a taste of what’s to come. Japanese culture is steeped in Buddhism and Confucianism, and this is a common problem for new Christians in Japan.
Anyway, we arrived in Japan on March 16th at 7am. We had a couple of days at the HQ just outside Tokyo, with some more specific orientation into OMF in Japan, before flying up to Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido. Here we’ll spend 2 years learning the language before being let loose on the Japanese!
Having spent many years in Japan, it’s very strange being here under quite different circumstances. Apart from my childhood when I was just living with my parents in Japan, every other visit to Japan has been just that, a visit, either for holiday with family or a short-term mission trip. Then I always had a return airfare. This time it was a one-way ticket.