Our primary objective is not just to live in Japan but to start a church. While settling back into the country, we plan to be concurrently promoting the church plant and spreading the gospel so we can officially launch the church at the beginning of December. We hope this allows us ample time to get the word out about the new church.
The plot twist for us will be the ongoing COVID situation in Japan. Aichi prefecture (the state that Nagoya is in) is currently in a state of emergency. Navigating these times where large gatherings are frowned upon will be a challenge. However, in the middle of every obstacle is an opportunity. We know that our God is bigger than any pandemic that we might face. Many variables lie ahead in the days and weeks to come. Butwe have the unchanging gospel and the unwavering promises of God.
Some may ask why we go during unfavorable circumstances. While the situation is less-than-ideal, we have to remember that the people in Japan are in even more unfavorable circumstances apart from the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Most of them have not heard of the unshakable hope we find in the pages of Scripture.
The incarnation was an obstacle. The cross was an obstacle. But our Lord did not falter at these obstacles. While He may have preferred not to go through them, His prayer was “not my will, but thine.” What is God’s will? He wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)!
We are incredibly blessed to be able to work in a first-world country like Japan. We are not building straw huts or needing airplanes to deliver medical supplies. But we do face a spiritual foe. The Word says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” The enemy has held Japan in his clutches through the darkness of Buddhism and Shintoism. We ask that you pray for us as we embark on this next term. But even more, pray with us that the Lord of the harvest will send more laborers into His harvest in Japan.
In missionary biographies of days gone by, you can read about how many spent months at sea on their way to their fields to tell people about Jesus. While most of us missionaries don’t ride ships to our respective fields of service, we nonetheless have the chance to serve the Lord in foreign lands. But if our days are not spent sailing the high seas, what does it look like to go to a foreign country?
Returning to the field includes packing up and moving out of our residence in the States. We rented an apartment near our home church for our brief, 5-month furlough. In the weeks leading up to our departure, we (mostly Rosie) coordinated furniture pickups and returns in between saying goodbyes.
This return has been a bit different from our previous departure for Japan. Because of the ongoing coronavirus situation, we need to have negative PCR test results within 72 hours of departure. The direct flight from Atlanta to Tokyo is 14 hours long. Upon arrival, we will be required to take another PCR test. Once we are in the country, we have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
We will be driving 5 hours from the Tokyo airport to Nagoya, the city where we will be planting a church. For the first 6 weeks, we will be renting a temporary-stay apartment in Nagoya while we look for houses. After finding a home to rent, we will drive 5 hours to Niigata (where we previously lived for 2 years) to pick up our household items in storage and take them back to Nagoya. After moving into our home, we will begin looking for a building we can rent for our church plant.
One of the interesting aspects of life in Japan is the layers of bureaucracy. Because our furlough in the U.S. was not a permanent move, we are still registered with the city hall in Niigata. In Japan, there is a very specific process to follow when moving from one city to another.
First, you go to the city hall for the city you are moving OUT of. Here, you submit your paperwork saying you are leaving the city. After this, you take your paperwork to the new city you are moving TO and let them know that you are moving into their area. Japan has social healthcare, but it falls to the city government to issues health insurance cards. So we will surrender our old health insurance cards to the city we move out of, and we will be issued new insurance cards at the city hall for the area we are moving into. Because of the detail tied to our city of residence, we will work on this paperwork after securing a home to live in.