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.
Who: Adam and Ashley have been serving as church planting missionaries to Taiwan with Vision Baptist Missions since 2019. They are members of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. They have one child, Anna Grace.
Status: This family finished raising support on deputation and arrived in Taiwan in November of 2020. They are currently in full-time language school learning mandarin Chinese. They are learning the language but also adapting to a new culture and assisting in church planting. Pray for this family’s language learning and adaptation in Kaohsiung, Taiwan!
Who: James and Rosalie have been serving as church planting missionaries to Japan with Vision Baptist Missions since 2016. They are members of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. They have two children: Silas and Amos.
Status: This family returned to the USA earlier this year for a short furlough. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan closed its doors, but they were still able to minister and Rosalie finished language school. Now that language school is over, they are eager to return to Japan and start their first church plant. Pray for this family’s quick return to Niigata, Japan!
Singapore is a relatively new country. A former British colony, it gained independence from Malaysia in 1965. At the time of independence, Singapore would have been considered a third-world country. Through strong leadership and multiple government programs, Singapore quickly developed into the modern, first-world country it is today.
Singapore is a city-state meaning the whole country is just one big city. Singapore’s land area consists of one main island and a few other smaller islands. You can drive across the entire country in about 45-50 minutes.
Because of its British colony roots, the main language in Singapore is English. English is the official language and also the heart language of many Singaporeans. Chinese is also spoken in Singapore and has a heavy influence. Many older Singaporeans will prefer Chinese while the younger generations will prefer to communicate in English. Malay is spoken by people of Malaysian ethnicity and Tamil is spoken by people from south India are also official languages.
Singapore is a place of great spiritual need. With a population of over 5.7 million, It is a place of many different religions but has few true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Buddhism would be the most popular religion and is practiced by about one-third of the people in Singapore. Christianity accounts for about 19% of the population. Muslims and Taoists are also very common as are people that would claim they have no religion. Of the 19% that claim to be Christian, many of them wouldn’t be truly born again as they would believe in some kind of works-based salvation. There are some churches preaching the Gospel in Singapore, but there is a great need for many more.
There is a good amount of religious freedom or tolerance in Singapore. Missionaries are allowed to get religious visas and do missionary work legally in Singapore. Churches are legal and allowed to meet freely. The only religious group that is banned in Singapore is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are some restrictions for churches. Churches are only allowed to meet in places that get approval to be used for religious purposes and there is a lot of red-tape for new church registrations. Still despite some restrictions, there is a great opportunity for church planting to be done in Singapore.
As of 2021, we have found out of 11 Independent Baptist churches in Singapore, with two of them being pastored by missionaries, seven or eight pastored by Singaporean pastors, and a couple of churches without a pastor. These churches are not new church plants. Most of them were started 20-40 years ago. From what we have found out, it has been years since any new Independent Baptist churches have been planted. While it is encouraging to know of churches in Singapore faithfully preaching the Bible, the reality is many more new Bible-preaching churches are needed to reach the 5.7 million people. Would you pray for God to send men to start more churches in Singapore? Would you pray about what God might have you to do to reach Singapore with the Gospel?
The one thing that impressed me the most when I first arrived in China was the masses of people. It is not like I had never been in a large crowd before, but in China the large crowds are everywhere you go. You might as well abandon the love of personal space if you decide to travel to that part of the world.
It is really hard to grasp the number of people that live in China. 1.4 billion is a number too hard to wrap one’s mind around. Breaking it down into more manageable parts helps a little. Think of a city with a population of one million, and then imagine 1,393 of those cities. In each of them there are a million personalities; a million souls for whom Christ died. From that perspective, the scope of the need seems overwhelming. In many missions-minded churches you’ll find a wall map with pins showing where missionary families are working. We have to be careful not to let that pin distort our perspective on the proportions of the need. One thumb tack can cover an area of several million people. No wonder Jesus said to his disciples,
“…the harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”