Where is home for you?
Last week we gave our testimony at the OMF prayer meeting, looking at the theme of home. For most of us there, it was a topic that was very close to home (if you’ll excuse the pun). I should’ve expected it, but I didn’t.
I began by pointing towards my birth place, Tenshi (Angel) Hospital, about 4km south of here – I jogged past it the other day. So when I’m asked, “Where are you from?” I know the answer. “I’m from Japan,” (often at this point the person asking the question will have a look of disbelief or confusion on their face) “but I’m English.”
My parents being in Japan with OMF meant that I grew up in Japan. But as a kid I was often looking forward to going ‘home’ to England. When I was 6, we went back to England for a year ‘home assignment’ (time to reconnect with supporting churches, prayer partners, family & friends, as well as study & rest). But while I was in England I was often longing to be back ‘home’ in Japan!
At the age of 11, I started at a boarding school in England. For summer and winter holidays I went back to Japan to be ‘home’ with my parents. But for Easter and half-term breaks I went ‘home’ to my guardians in Reading, who became like a 2nd set of parents. I found the 1st couple of years at this school quite unsettling. I thought, again, that I was going back to my home country – I was English after all. But even though I spoke English, and my school friends spoke English, we spoke a different language. There were certain words I’d not heard before, and didn’t realise they were bad. They thought I was putting on an act, pretending I wasn’t as streetwise as they were – but I really was that innocent! They talked about the TV programs they grew up on, not Okaasan to Issho, or Doraimon! … I felt like a foreigner in my own country!
But as a Christian, certain promises came to be very dear to me.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20)
Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
[The heroes of faith] admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
We’re now in Sapporo, trying to set up a new ‘home’. But in a few short years we’ll be back in Wales for our ‘home assignment’ – but it’s not my home! Anna feels very at home there (in fact, she’s making Welsh cakes right now!), and that is a good foretaste of what we have to look forward to: a country of our own, a better country, a place where we can know we really belong, forever… an eternal home.
And we long that many Japanese may come to know the joy of that eternal home prepared by the Lord Jesus.