Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
As we endeavor to be more Christ-like in our lives, I’m reminded of Matthew 11:28-30. In those verses Jesus tells us that His burden is light, He doesn’t put a heavy weight upon us. In fact, in Him, we find rest and relief from the weight of this world, it’s the opposite of a burden. As ministers of Christ, how can we emulate Christ by not being a burden on those we’re ministering to? And beyond that, what can I do to relieve the burdens of those around us?
I often think about this question, not because I view myself as an incredible burden currently, although I’m sure I have my moments, but because of a conversation that we had with a missionary years ago. One of our friends gave us the contact information of a veteran missionary in Japan. He had been there several years, had an effective ministry in Japan and the Philippines, and had come from our denomination, so we were excited to connect with him over the phone. The missionary was great and very helpful, but the first thing he said to us has stuck with me four years later. He said “I hope you come to Japan and serve, but I don’t really have a place for you in my ministry. The minute you land at the airport here in Tokyo, you are a burden to me or my team. I don’t say that to discourage you, it’s just the reality of the situation. You don’t speak the language, you can’t rent an apartment or set up utilities. A national will have to take you to every government appointment and help you accomplish the simplest of tasks.”
The Holy Spirit used the bluntness of his comments to teach me a valuable lesson that day. We had not yet started our missions training at SGWM and we didn’t realize how childlike we would become in our adopted culture. We viewed ourselves as a blessing, called of the Lord, coming to help the people of Japan. That conversation cured us of that notion and we decided that night, while talking to each other, to do whatever we could to shorten the amount of time we would burden the Japanese church. We knew we couldn’t eliminate it all together (the law prohibits foreigners from being able to do somethings without a Japanese guarantor), but we could reduce the weight and length that they would have to carry for us. Thus, we began three years of cross-cultural training and internship, language learning, and growing spiritually before we left for Japan. Please pray for us to be a blessing and not a burden in any way to those in Japan.
Please also pray about partnering with us financially. Our sending organization has a policy that we have 80% of our monthly needs funded before we can go so that we don’t become a financial burden on the indigenous church. They are wonderful, loving, Christian people, and if they saw we were struggling to make ends meet, they would help us any way they could. We don’t want to ever put them in that situation, but especially not when we’ve just arrived. We are currently at 50% of our monthly needs, so please consider coming alongside us to get to our monthly goal. At the same time, we don’t want to be a burden to any of you, so please give prayerfully and within your means. No amount is too small or insignificant, The Lord will bless and multiply it. If you already partner with us, thank you so much, it means the world to us. It is incredibly humbling to have people believe in your calling and want to get behind you. The ‘financial partner’ link is at the bottom of this letter.
Thank you all for your prayers and support.
- For the Lord to provide everything we need (financial, visa, moving logistics, etc.) for our move to Japan.
- For Jeff as he teaches the midweek service at the church.
- For Alishia’s health and strength as she ministers and works each day.
- For the team going to Japan with us for a few weeks in January, and the planning of the trip.
- For Alishia’s US citizenship process, that the timing would work with our departure.