“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” John 21:18 NLT
I (Darryl) have been going through a “mid-mission crisis”. Unlike a “mid-life crises,” I have no sudden urge to regain my youth and sense of adventure by buying a hair piece (Cambodia is too hot for hair) and buying a sports car. Instead, I suddenly had a longing for a peaceful life, a stable job, and stable housing (a 9 to 5 job, a mortgage, a mini-van, and money in the bank). When I was 24, I made a commitment to Christ, “I won’t say No” to any of His plans for me. This has led me to spend the 10 of the past 14 years in Cambodia as a missionary and the other four years have been divided between California and Japan, with only a few visits to Missouri, my home-state. It was easier to take bold steps of faith when I was 24 and single than when I am 37 with a wife and a child.
I had a deep sense of exhaustion from too many adventures and so I sought a way to escape my life as a missionary, for something more peaceful and safe. Even pastoring a church in the US seemed like an easy alternative. On Easter, we went to a small church north of Tokyo. While Kayo was playing the piano and because I couldn’t sing the Japanese hymn, I closed my eyes. In my mind, I saw a very stony path up a mountain before me. Ahead of me, the path suddenly became almost vertical as it when up the side of a cliff. At the top, I saw light surrounded by darkness. Since that moment, these words have been written on my heart, “the path gets steeper from here.”
I really struggled with this. I cried out to God, “I can’t climb any steeper paths. I’ve already given all of my strength just to get this far.” Since making the commitment to Christ, “I won’t say N0,” in 2000, I have suffered dengue twice, a nervous breakdown (bipolar disorder) and healing, countless disappointments, thefts, and serious food poisoning (bacteria, amoebas, and parasites) around 50 times. Recently, I explained my medical history to a doctor in Japan he said, “You are an expert of diarrhea.” I was at the end of my strength and I really wanted to run away from my calling.
After spending a few hours at Starbucks in Hiroshima, venting and complaining to my good friend Kevin, an tent-maker missionary/pastor, who also has a Japanese wife and hybrid sons, God placed John 21:18 on my heart. I’m glad it wasn’t 21:19 because that was about Peter being crucified : ). I also have been given a sense that Christ was telling me, “I held you hand and walked with you up the first part of the path, I will carry you up the next part.”
Since then, I have been challenged to continue to grow in faith through every stage of life, not just when I was young. If we were trusting God to meet our needs at 25, we should be depending on Him even more at 65 or 85. We can’t start off trusting in God in our twenties and then in our thirties and forties start trusting in our retirement plans and investments (not to say that these things are bad, but our sense of security and provision must be placed in Christ alone). We must be prepared to hear His voice, and follow Him, wherever in the world He calls us regardless of our age or other considerations.
Experiencing God’s Power in Japanese Churches
We have been experiencing God’s power a new way as we visit Japanese churches. In addition to being able to encourage the church member to be ambassadors for Christ in their daily lives, God has given us opportunities to minister to individuals.
Some of these opportunities relate to our Christian Apologetics ministry:
- A Japanese junior high school teacher who is required to teach evolution to his students.
- Various parents who want to give evidence for the truth of Christianity to their children either to prevent them from losing their faith as a result of evolutionary teaching in public schools. Others need resources and encouragement to help restore the faith of their children who have already lost their faith.
Other opportunities relate to challenging the Japanese not to bury their God-given talents but to use them for His glory throughout their entire lives. We have even had one opportunity to minister to a mentally-ill Japanese man and to point him to Christ in a way that could penetrate his confusion.
Please continue to pray for us that we will continue to keep our eyes on Christ instead of the storms.
In Christ’s Hands,
Darryl, Kayo, and Benjamin