This is a guest post by Levi Booth, fellow OMFer, blogger, and general all-round geezer!
Hi, I’m Levi. I do church-planting and stuff with OMF down in Yokohama, but for a short, sweet few months back in 2015 I worked with Natch on the FMzero team.
This summer I had the privilege of coming back up to Hokkaido to help with a student camp. The summer has passed on, but as I reflect on the camp, the feelings I experienced stay strong. Allow me, if you will, to share them with you.
All gospel work is a great privilege, and student work is no exception. But more than the sense of privilege there are two emotions that I felt during the camp, and that I feel even now:
Sorrow, and joy.
The theme of the camp was ‘relationships.’ We covered the range of relationships – acquaintances, friends, family – and through them we sought to point the students to the relationship that God offers them. We shared our own experiences of God’s grace through games, over dinner, at the onsen, and ended the camp by Natch explaining the story from Luke chapter fifteen of the prodigal sons and the Father who goes out to them.
It is of course an illustration of God’s heart. His love for us and desire for us to come home. And as we get involved in the work of sharing the gospel with students, it also becomes a illustration of the sorrow and joy we feel.
Sorrow at getting to know students – overflowing with dreams and potential – squandering the gifts that God has give them, often in foolish and destructive behaviour.
Joy at seeing students recognising their lost state and returning to the Father. Even if we only get to see their first, hesitant and haltering steps towards God, filled with doubts and concerns.
Sorrow at hearing students – filled with youthful self-reliance and pride – refuse the grace of the good news. Hearing time and again the motto of the open-minded yet hard-hearted pharisees, “That’s good for you, but I don’t need it.”
From the outside student work often looks like a party: playing fun games, eating nice food, and hanging out in onsens (or coffee shops, if you prefer Starbucks to hot springs). But at the heart it is a work of pleading and praying, as we call students into the Father’s house – where the real party is at.
So whilst I am no longer directly involved with the student work in Sapporo, I continue to pray for the team. I pray that they will have strength to endure the sorrow-filled task of sharing the good news with students more interested in learning English than encountering Christ. And I pray they will have the joy of seeing even pharisees respond to the Father’s invitation to come home.
Will you pray too?
Levi Booth worked with fmZERO in Sapporo from 2015-2016 holding the fort while we were away in the UK on home assignment. He loves coffee, bad Kung-Fu films and blogging at Reversed Thunder. His writing is always witty but warm, and is a pleasure to read.