June 21-25 we were away for the triennial OMF Japan conference. Including children there was about 150 of us staying in a lovely hotel with Japanese tatami (rice mat) rooms, excellent buffet food, a pool and some outdoor onsens (public hot spring baths). I enjoyed the view from our room of nearby mountains covered in deep green, sometimes wrapped in mist. We got a chance to go in the pool with Ethan, but sadly we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the onsen.
The location of the hotel is technically still in our city, Sapporo, even though it was an hour bus ride away. There’s nothing much there apart from the mountains and some hotels renowned for their onsens – so I was told by my friend at our local recycle shop.
The OMF International General Director, Patrick Fung, was giving the main Bible readings from Acts, particularly from ch20. I love that chapter, such an inspiring speech from Paul – final words of farewell having taught them the whole counsel of God and having lived it out among them above reproach.
Another Patrick mentioned was the community of runners from Heb 12:1 (the link was from Acts 20:24). He showed us a couple of clips from the film ‘Chariots of Fire’. One was of Eric Liddell winning the 400m at the Olympics, with a voice over saying how God made him fast; the other right at the beginning as the whole team run along the beach, a community of runners. (The theme of running also came up in Phil 3:12-14 and 1 Cor 9:26.) We’re not meant to do it alone. Patrick pointed out that it was when David was alone, a lonely leader, that he ended up committing adultery with Bathsheba.
The conference was a little taste of that community of runners. All the OMF missionaries in Japan were together for a week. That only happens once every 3 years, but we enjoyed being together while it lasted – learning from God’s Word together, praising Him together, praying for each other … encouraging each other to keep running the race.