Tenacity for the Lord – Vanrenterghem Update May 2024

The new year brought in many new experiences, places, and people into our lives. This update has been needed for some time and we want to thank everyone for the prayers and support. We have felt them throughout our last few months. Hang on for a long update!

Turning Japanese…we wish. 

We planned and prayed and planned and finally made it to JAPAN! We spent our first few days in Tokyo and stayed in a great Airbnb in Shibuya. You may have seen it in movies, it’s the place in Tokyo known for millions of people crossing the street daily. Because of our excitement, and all the places we wanted to go to and see, we hit the ground running.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. The world’s busiest pedestrian crossing.

A main goal of ours was to not only see the sights of Japan, but to pray over and meet the people of Japan. We got to go up to key places like high-rise buildings in Tokyo and Osaka in order to view the cities and pray over them, to lift up Japan to the Almighty Creator of the Universe. In Tokyo, we really felt small, the most populated city in the world with current numbers at 37,115,05 people. We serve a God who is BIG and know that He knows each and every person, nothing is too big for Him. He formed them from the start and loves and cares for each individual one.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. You eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.”

Psalm 139:13-18 ESV

We got to visit with pastors and missionaries who have labored in Japan for many years and hear from them their thoughts and experiences living in Japan. 13 years and more are an example of how long they have served and lived in Japan. We got to connect with three pastors/churches in the Tokyo area and then we also got to visit/attend Calvary Chapel Abide in Osaka and Calvary Chapel Iwakuni in Hiroshima. These churches and pastors are laboring and plowing and are tenacious for the Gospel and for the people of Japan. The theme we kept hearing from all the missionaries was patience and being tenacious for the Lord.

And let us not grow weary which doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9
Pastor Rich and Candace from Calvary Chapel Fuchu, Tokyo. Serving Japan over 20 years.

While the people of Japan tend to be polite but distant, our experience with the christian Japanese was an amazing transformation. They are so open, loving, and accepting. We experienced true koinonia (fellowship) with them in how they included us into their Bible studies and lives.

Carrie with the ladies of Calvary Chapel Abide, Osaka.

To wrap up, our time was very eye-opening and wonderful and we left our hearts in Japan, as well as our friends, the Roots, who now serve in Osaka with Calvary Chapel Abide. During the first two weeks we were on our own, and then in the last two weeks of the vision tour we met up with others who are praying about going to serve in Japan. Jeff and Alisha Root, who had been preparing and praying to go to Japan for 6 years moved there on this trip! Another tenacious couple to serve the Lord in Japan.

Saying goodbye at Osaka airport to Pastor Joseph Totsis, the Roots, and Gabby.


We flew from Osaka, Japan to Indonesia to continue on our vision tour. We met up with some new members of the team. We decided to join the vision tour team in Indonesia because we are open to whatever the Lord has for us and the opportunity and connections spurred us to.

Indonesia Vison Team on the way to East Java.

We spent the first few days on the island of East Java and visited with pastors and missionaries there. This was a sweet time to see the work being done there. Then we spent the last of our 10 days in Bali.

So while Indonesia is a Muslim country, Bali is Hindu. There is quite a difference in Bali from the rest of Indonesia. In East Java we saw the Muslim mosques and call to prayer, and in Bali we saw the shrines and temples to Hindu gods in almost every home.

The contrast from Japan: a people that is closed spiritually, to Indonesia: a people that is all about spirituality. Sven explains the spiritual climate better below.

Sven was given the opportunity to teach Sunday service at a church in Bali as well as our son-in-law, Bryan Crenshaw, at another church. Pastor Trent Douglass had just taught at a pastor’s conference the day before where he got to share about “The Purpose of the Church.” It was a great turn out all around and so impactful. He shared with the believers in Bali and taught them biblical truths that many had never even heard before.

Sven teaching Sunday Service in Bali.


The blessing of seeing for myself and experiencing  the countries and the people of Japan and Indonesia was worth the wait. Japan is such an interesting place. On the surface everything looks put together like nowhere else on earth. The structure, the conformity, the obedience of the people to each other and the system makes Japan run like a well-oiled Shinkansen (bullet train) speeding down the track at over 250 miles per hour. However, under the surface it is evident that the people feel hopeless and are looking for any in which way to get hope. The suicide rate is at epidemic proportions. The oppression of many, especially young people, feels like a vice around their necks of which they see no way out. For centuries Japan has been a closed off country, with no leeway for western influence let alone evangelical missionaries. The traditions, false religious oppression, demonic activity, and mystic practices have such a foundational root in the country, that it looks impossible for these chains to be broken in the lives of the people. Now here is the catch, unlike most parts of the 10/40 window Japan is completely open. That is, you do not have to fear in Japan of sharing your faith, even starting a church, or evangelizing on the street. All these practices are perfectly legal in the country. However, even though the country is open, the mindset of the people is 100 percent closed. So Japan is known to the evangelical missionary world as the place where ‘missionaries go to die.’ That’s uplifting, isn’t it?

We got to see that despite these entrenched thoughts about Japan, we saw evidence of fruit. That those who answered the call to go and lay down their comfortable lives and went to serve the Japanese, were producing.  We saw the perseverance of Calvary Chapel pastors and their families who have been there for years was starting to pay off. In Cross-Cultural missions class I have often heard it said that whatever the norm is for missions in other parts of the world, add another 10 years on that for Japan. And we saw that this is very true. We visited a number of Calvary Chapels and some had been laboring for over 13 years, others well over 25 years. But their diligence, faithfulness, and tenacity to the call God gave them, have started to produce fruit and results in these last recent years. God is deeply at work in Japan and I know He wants to do an amazing work there. I believe the field is being made ripe and the Lord is preparing those who are to labor in that Field.

The Japanese people need hope. They need to know that there is hope for them in Jesus. Millions of Japanese people have never heard of Jesus. And if they have they associate Him with a western religion that they want no part of. I heard one guy say that he thought Jesus was Santa Claus. There is no Biblical understanding of the gospel. What Japan needs is for them to hear and experience the gospel in a way that they can understand it. Not the gospel according to America but the Gospel according to the Bible.

In contrast, 1 month later we landed in Bali, Indonesia. Some of you are aware that I lived in Indonesia for my high school years. During that time, I visited Bali about five times so I knew what to expect. The first thing that you are greeted by stepping into the airport at Denpasar is the overwhelming large and intimidating looking Hindu idols with all their grotesqueness.  They are meant to strike fear in those who lay eyes on them. The Balinese people of Indonesia have been under the fear and oppression of Hinduism for centuries. The evidence of Balinese  Hinduism is everywhere and when I say everywhere I mean everywhere. Every fourth building on any given street is a small or large Hindu temple. The offerings that the Balinese give to their gods are carefully placed outside  every home and business.

A Hindu shrine in Bali.

The Balinese people on the other hand are night and day to the Japanese. Where Japanese people are polite but cold and prize their privacy, the Balinese people are warm, hospitable, and want to build relationships. The church in Bali is actually alive. Does Bali need more churches? Of course, absolutely. But the real issue is the lack of Biblical solid teaching. The church for the most part is very pentecostal. Nothing wrong with that, if they are also teaching sound Biblical doctrine. Unfortunately Bible teaching is lacking. So Bali can absolutely use some great Bible Colleges and a generous amount of Calvary Chapel style churches. Which simply means going through the Bible verse-by-verse with room for the Holy Spirit to move. We had many opportunities to teach, preach, pray, and fellowship with the body in Indonesia. They are wonderful brothers and sisters. Indonesia does need more workers sharing Jesus to pierce through the demonic Hinduism and Muslim strongholds in the country.

So having come back and having experienced both places, what is the Lord doing with us now? Well, He is preparing us. How long will this preparatory work last before He says it is time to go? Only the Lord knows that answer. We are in no hurry to go before the Lord says to go. So please continue to pray for us as we wait on the Lord.


  • We arrived home safely from our 6-week vision tour.
  • We stayed healthy overall.
  • We are looking for work in Southern California as we study and prepare to be sent out.
  • Financial and prayer partners.
  • Tenacity in our studies and serving here at Saving Grace World Missions and Calvary Chapel Saving Grace.