Here's a picture of most of those students from a trip to the Zoo they arranged for us.
Even more encouraging however has been sitting in on Tuesday night staff led Bible discussions that these 3 students and a few others (including my roomates M and G) have been attending. The staff does an incredible job of presenting a bare gospel in the talks, free from all the usual complications and christian jargon that sometimes weighs it down. We've been going through the last couple chapters in the book of Mark, the questions they ask, and the observations they make about Jesus absolutely blow me away. Listening to the small pieces of the conversation that occasionally get translated for us (usually by M or Brian) I'm amazed by the wisdom and thought put into their observations. They see Jesus as powerful, forgiving, standing for truth, and yet they can't seem to see Jesus as someone they could actually have a relationship with....yet.
As really short term visitors in Japan prayer is usually the most effective thing we can be doing. That can be pretty frustrating, and it's something I often forget. I was reading Luke chapter 9 last week where Jesus is speaking to a large group of people late into the day. As dinner time approaches the disciples ask Jesus to send the people away to go find food and Jesus tells the disciples "You give them something to eat." The disciple think that's asking too much. How could they feed so many people with what was basically 3 foot long tuna subs? And besides, feeding people is so much work, slow, and really unglamorous. Especially when you're serving tuna subs. As usual Jesus steps in and shows them how to serve His people by feeding the 5,000. Later in that same chapter Jesus is walking towards a village and sends some disciples ahead to make arrangements. The village decides they would prefer that Jesus and Co. aren't welcome in their city and choose not to receive them. At which point the disciples turn to Jesus and ask him (without any provocation) "Lord, would you like us to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them?" FIRE, FROM HEAVEN. That would be incredible, powerful, people would talk about that as a true work of a servant of God. This wasn't an idea that particularly excited Jesus so he rebuked the disciples and kept walking to the next village.
Along with former Freshmen now Seniors, I've also ran into an older student who dropped by
Shizuoka while on leave from his job. 3 years ago he and I had talked quite a bit and been on the same team for a weekend sports tournament. He seemed to be doing really well, had a job, had friends, unfortunately still not really into talking about deeper things with me. But still, it was great to see a student who I thought I would never see again, and have some time to compare notes on our lives. Also it was a great reminder to me to be praying for all the Japanese students I knew while I'm here, not just the ones still around and that I see everyday.
Reading that was like looking in a mirror. I want ministry to look the way I want, to be impressive, powerful, to send a message. And as far as I can tell, that's not what God has in mind over here for now. Instead He'd rather we feed his people, meet them, and serve them. So that's what I'm working on.
Prayer for that would be seriously appreciated, serving is not somewhere I often shine :)
Also please keep praying for my roomates M, G, and S. I've had deeper and deeper conversations with them about what matters in life, plans for their lives and things that they see in society that they don't agree with. Pray that God would give me a clear opportunity to feature Him in a conversation soon.
Also here's a video my roomate G showed me to explain some of the finer points of going out for Sushi:
G's help at times has been questionable ;)