Darkness in the Land of the Rising Sun – Hamano Update May 2024

Dear friends and family, 

It’s been a whirlwind of events as usual and we’re sorry we couldn’t get this update out to you sooner, but we’re excited to finally share about our trip to Japan! We were there for about 8 full days and were thrilled to finally be able to see and experience the country we have been praying over. As I (Lydia) write this, it doesn’t even feel real that we were actually there on the other side of the world! But now we will share some of our main moments with you. 🙂

Landing in Japan

 As we stepped off our 15 ½ hour flight, we stretched out our legs and eagerly hurried to meet our friends Jeff and Alishia Root. The Roots had arrived a few days earlier with some of our other team members attending this trip. I (Lydia) had met Jeff and Alishia when we attended the Calvary School of Missions program together back in 2020. They were the ones who first stirred my heart for the spiritual needs in Japan and they have been preparing to move to Japan as long-term missionaries for the past 6 years. And as of January 2024, the Lord has officially planted them there!

Alishia & Lydia

 We were so happy to greet them in their new home of Japan and once we got our train passes we went straight to dinner with them at a yakitori restaurant in Tokyo. We were immediately immersed in the smells of the winter air, sizzling meat, and cigarette smoke permeating the restaurant. Sitting around the table we shared stories of our trip and went over the agenda for the next few days.

Afterwards we met up with the rest of our team and headed to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. We went up to the top floor to see the beautiful city night life. Here, the Lord spoke to me (Geoff) of the needs of all the people through the lit-up city lights. There were what seemed to be thousands of red lights on top of all the skyscrapers. My heart felt burdened as each red dot symbolized to me a spiritual need blaring from the countless tall structures. As we continued into our next few days, we had the opportunity to speak with a few of the missionaries there who had great insight on how ministry is and how the people react to the gospel.

Ministry in Japan

 There were some hard truths we had to listen to, such as Japan is a very hard place to do ministry. The Japanese people are very engraved with their family heritage and that also means religion. If I could sum it up in one sentence I would say, Japan’s soil is very spiritually dry. But as we continued with our journey to Osaka, we began to see that the Lord is on the move in Japan. Meeting up with our main contacts Joseph and Amy who run Abide Osaka church, we were able to meet a lot of people and Lydia was able to even attend a women’s study. It was amazing to see how the gospel can truly change anyone, to the point where it felt like night and day with the Japanese people who have been converted to Christ.

 It was such a blessing for me (Lydia) to join Abide’s women’s bible study for a day! Amy is such a wonderful bible teacher and it was such a joy to fellowship with the other women afterwards. One lady I met was named Keiko. She was very kind and told me of her experience studying English abroad in her younger days and she shared a bit about her family too. We are both praying over unsaved relatives and the Lord gave me a Scripture passage to share with her. Luke 18:1-8 has always been an encouragement to me to keep praying for my unsaved relatives and to not give up. 

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

Luke 18:1

Before parting ways, Keiko wanted to give me one of the evangelism bracelets she carries around in her purse wherever she goes. It has a Japanese explanation of the symbolism behind each color bead telling the message of the gospel. It would be so amazing to take part in sharing the gospel in Japanese. I am currently taking Japanese lessons now but I have a long way to go!

Prayer Walk in Tokyo

A final experience in Japan we want to share with you is one of the prayer walks our team went on during the trip. This was very impactful to us as we walked around a park in Tokyo where they had various shrines that people would go up to, bow, pray, and some offer money. Most Japanese don’t really believe in the religion of Buddhism/Shintoism but they continue to do its religious practices for the sake of family tradition. Their loyalty is very strong and it would be extremely shameful if an individual left their family religion. They typically view Christianity as a “western ideology” rather than a possibility of truth. So despite the religious freedom in Japan, most Japanese are very closed off to the gospel. Please join us in praying for the people of Japan as there is a great spiritual stronghold over this country. 

So, Are We Called to Japan?

As we have had a lot of time to process our trip and pray through it, we don’t believe God has confirmed to us a “yes” or “no” to serving in Japan. Rather we both felt the Lord telling us, “wait.” Though we both have a burdened heart for the Japanese, we believe God hasn’t called us to go yet, or make serious moves towards going. Instead He has called us to be faithful where we are at. Though it is difficult sometimes to not know for sure where or when we are going to serve long-term, we trust God with the process.

We will be staying in Yorba Linda for the time being, continuing our missionary training with SGWM and serving with CC Saving Grace. Geoff has taken on a leadership role this year in the sound/media ministry and has been blessed to train up more servants for that ministry. I (Lydia) continue to work in the SGWM office as an admin assistant as well as continue to grow in discipling other women at church. I love this amazing life God has given us and am so excited for what God is doing in this season!

Geoff and I are so grateful for all of your support as we pursue what God has called us to. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this newsletter and keeping us in your prayers. We look forward to sharing with you what God does next!


Geoff & Lydia

More Photos!