He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Thursday, February 26, 2009 

Japorn

Something that shouldn't be shocking in a godless nation is the sexual perversion that pervades the society. I had read about enjo kosai when the Lord had made clear to us that we were to go to Japan, but I still wasn't prepared for how often I would have to run away from pornograpy, or as I'll write in the next paragraphs, the real deal.

I would notice men standing in the convenience stores in a row reading or flipping through magazines. It wasn't until Luke & I went to the ATM in a 7-11 (they are Japanese owned by the way) & there were literally dozens of doe-eyed Japanese women, scantily clad, staring longingly at us from the magazine rack.

Mindy, Luke, & I were in a second hand store, kind of like an upscale flea market at home, & as we browsed the aisles, literally touching on the right side of the Playstation games for sale were not just scantily-clad women, but completely nude women posing on the front of DVD's, row after row, & on the left side of the porn, anime or funky cartoon DVD's.

I went into a bookstore - then I walked out - because it seemed like every book was cartoon porn (a big hit here for some reason).

I walked downtown one night (very close to our home, an easy walk) & found myself right in the middle of a couple streets where you could walk into any venue & pay to see nude women perform privately for you. How do I know? Because the sidewalk pictures & photos were so graphic that it left no room for misunderstanding what you could do & for how much.

My immediate thought is often, "Oh God get me out of here." My second more lingering thought goes to Luke & the thought of him growing up with such easy access to things that quite literally could haunt him to the grave. But as I selfishly thought about Luke, I think the Holy Spirit brought my attention to the sons & daughters of Japan. All Japanese men have the same ease of access as my Luke does. Those women who pose are lost apart from Christ. The men in the corporations that push the industry are lost. And the Japanese are created by God in the image of God just the same as Luke is.

So I'm asking you to pray for purity of heart for the Japanese, but I'm not asking you to pray in the vacuum of morality. Please pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified for the sins of sexual perversion & sexual idolotry, would set the capitves of this industry & addiction free, & that the sons & daughters of Japan would become the adopted sons & daughters of God the Father.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 

Missions as Fasting from Recognition: We're Not Home Yet

There’s a well‐known story of a missionary couple who after decades of faithful service overseas, were returning back to the States. They happened to be on the same ship to New York as President Theodore Roosevelt, who was returning from a big game hunt in Africa. As the ship pulled into the dock, huge crowds, the press, and a brass band were gathered to welcome him
home.

The old missionary couple, health broken and spent in their service for Christ, walked off the ship and through the crowd, unmet and unknown. As they walked, a tear trickled down the husband’s cheek.

“What’s wrong?” his wife asked.
“My whole life I’ve given to serving Christ. We’ve spent ourselves for Jesus and nobody is here to greet us on our return home.

His dear wife thought for a minute and said softly, "That's because we're not home yet, dear." (emphasis mine - DR)

I’ve met lots of wonderfully humble missionaries who don’t need awards or standing ovations – but would of course appreciate the encouragement of a simple “thank you”, but most of all in lieu of any recognition we all long for and wait to hear the words, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

For those who fast earthly comforts and recognition, there is a heavenly comfort and recognition that will leave no one disappointed.


- Michael Oh

 

Church Based Theological Training

My pastor from Lakeview Baptist in Auburn, Al Jackson, has written an article for 9Marks ministries on his convictions that seminary training should be church based.

Monday, February 16, 2009 

Theology Drives Missions? AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!!

Although Japan is a tough mission field – considered by some missiologists to be the most difficult mission field in the world – we’ve seen tremendous openness to the Gospel among young people.

We’re really just a small ministry, but we’re involved in a fairly broad range of ministries from evangelism to discipleship, from counseling to music, from lay training to graduate level theological training. Our goal has been to set up a ministry that models the whole range of Gospel WITNESS and Gospel IMPACT from a Gospel FOUNDATION

And at the very CORE of all these ministries is theological education.

In missions we are not merely looking for numeric conversions. We are looking for sustainable growth of the church as the instrument of God’s work in this world.

It’s easy to dismiss theology and theological training ‐ especially in the mission field as we’re SOOO busy, so undermanned and so focused on evangelism. But theology is the foundational discipline for all of ministry.

Theology must inform our evangelism;

Theology must inform our discipleship;

Theology must inform our church planting, our counseling, and certainly our theological education...

Please do pray for Japan. This is an extremely exciting season of fruit bearing. Light has begun to shine especially among young people, and I am very optimistic about the future of that nation and those people, the people that I love.


- Michael Oh...I think you know where from by now

 

Film Coming on Japanese Christians

Here's some news you don't read everyday. It appears that famous film director, Martin Scorsese is planning on making a film about the persecution of Japanese Christians, based on a 1966 book.

It will be interesting to see this film and see how historians rate it concerning accuracy. Read the full story here.


- Persecution Blog

Sunday, February 15, 2009 

Fasting of Things Present - Missions as Fasting from Family

A FASTING of family is not a neglect of family – neither the family that you leave behind in America nor the family that you bring with you to the mission field. Instead it involves a mourning over lost time with extended family and some lonely holidays; it involves a fasting of financial and physical comfort and educational opportunity for your children; you’re not going to find an SAT prep class or after school violin lessons for your kids in the Congo. And it involves an exposure of your family to some potentially dangerous and scary circumstances in enemy territory.

It sounds funny to talk about dangers in Japan which is one of the safest countries in the world; but that depends on how you define safe; I have 5 children and we live in a country that has an alarmingly high rate of child molestation and was the number one provider of child pornography on the Internet.

I think Japan could have the most densely concentrated demonic population in the world. This is a nation that worships 8 million gods. There are 183,000 cult groups registered with the government. And in almost every single house and apartment in the most densely packed nation in the world there is incense burned, food offered, and prayers prayed to idols which Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 are offered to demons.

No, Japan is not a place to casually bring your children it is a battlefield.
‐‐
Such fasting of the blessings of LIFE is difficult, but it comes with an encouragement from Scripture that it is the RIGHT THING to do and with a promise –

Isaiah 58 ‐
Is. 58:6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is. 58:7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Is. 58:8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

The Lord has CHOSEN FASTING to:

LOOSE the chains of injustice
To set the oppressed FREE
To share food with the HUNGRY

And as we engage in such food and LIFE fasting our light will BREAK FORTH like the dawn – righteousness will go before us and the glory of the LORD will be our guard.

If we will spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and the lost, then our LIGHT will rise in the DARKNESS; the Lord will guide us, satisfy us, and strengthen us, like a well‐watered garden and spring whose waters never fail.

That PROMISE is good enough for me! How about you?


- Michael Oh, Founder/President CBI, Nagoya, Japan

Saturday, February 14, 2009 

Day of Celebration

Today is a day for me to celebrate. And no, actually, it has nothing to do with the fact that it's Valentines Day. But it has everything to do with the fact that it is February 14th. Today my niece turns 1 year old, & the friend I've had since 4th grade, the only friend left from elementary school, middle school, high school, college, roomates, & fraternity, is getting married today.

At first thought it is kind of sad. I have this pink, chunky, nose squiggling, spunky niece who is celebrating her birthday I'm sure with my sister, brother-in-law, & I would imagine my parents & maybe even my other sister. And I can't be there.

My friend who is getting married asked me to be his best man, as he was my best man at my wedding, said he would pay any cost to get me over from Japan, but we have a policy that doesn't allow us to leave the mission field during our first year. So it is upsetting that I cannot be there.

However, the greater picture tells the greater story. My sweet niece Caroline was born to the baby of our family, the youngest of 4 children, Rachel. When Rachel was just a little older than Caroline, she had to have open-heart surgery. Many children died from that procedure with a condition as serious as hers, but God spared her physical life. Then as a young teenager, the Lord who had saved her soul by now too, lit a fire underneath her, & as I lived as immorally as I could find ways down in college, Rachel was praying for me, lovingly sharing Christ with me just matter-of-factly when I came home. It was one of the first times I considered the fact that maybe I was not reconciled to God through Christ. And the Lord kept His hand on her (my sister), gave her an amazing, godly husband, & now Caroline comes as another miracle in her life. How can I be sad? How can I do anything other than rejoice, celebrate?!

My friend Josh? I was writing a seminary paper on a Saturday in February 2004 in the SBTS library taking a break to watch the snow softly falling. Like a 2 ton truck had hit me, the Lord told me in my spirit that Josh was lost, & though I had made efforts before, I was to share with him all the Lord told me. I ignored it because Josh was my last friend left from before I was saved & I had shared with him & though I knew he was lost, what else can you do when someone affirms all your words, when they won't recognized they are lost? I went to bed that night & around 2:30 am, that truck hit me again, & I got out of bed & began writing one of many, many letters that I would write him over the next several years, along with phone calls & visits, all pleading with him to come to Christ. Eventually, it took its toll on the relationship, & for 14 months, we didn't exchange a word. I had lost a best friend. It made no sense to me.

Then in October about a year & a half ago, I get a call. It's Josh. He's telling me God used what I told him over the years along with Biblical teaching he was hearing at a church at home to redeem him. He's one of those guys with a good heart, never saw his need for a Savior, but always agreed with me about Jesus being great & acted like he was a believer. I was just glad to talk to him, but I had heard his song & dance before. But we visited. He was different. We started talking again, he was not the same person. He was breathing & bleeding Christ, genuinely! And he continues to grow today.

And now, on another Saturday in another February from the one years ago, he is getting married to another young Christian God brought his way, & even though it is sad that I cannot be there, how can I not rejoice that a best friend since grade school is walking in the truth, is making a covenant before God to serve his wife in a Christ-like manner, & is bringing glory to God in the business world in Birmingham & to his neighbors.

I'm literally half-way around the world today, but my heart is in Alabama today ,& my heart is full.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 

Spiritual Darkness & Need of Japan

Over the years I’ve learned that the Japanese are an AMAZING people – industrious, dependable, engineering geniuses; they are steadfast friends; respectful and kind.
All of this is so much so that you might be tempted to ask, “Do they really need the
Gospel?”

But if you can look beyond the high technology, the smiles and politeness, you will
see a nation so DESPERATELY LOST WITHOUT CHRIST.

They are a nation spiritually lost. They worship 8 million gods, but so few know the ONE TRUE GOD. The Protestant population is 0.2% There are 183,000 cult groups in Japan.

They are a nation that is also sexually lost.

The historical legacy of the so‐called “comfort women” that I mentioned before
is today continued as there are 150,000 Filipino and Thai women who are being exploited in the Japanese sex industry having been lured by so‐called, “entertainment” jobs.

And they are a nation that is also relationally lost.

There is a phenomenon known as “hikikomori” where people refuse to work or
participate at all in normal life. They sleep all day and if they venture out at all,
it’s at night to their local convenience store to pick up some cup of noodles and some pornography. There are today in Japan more than 1 million young men who are hikikomori.

Young girls in Japan are so desperately seeking fatherly attention that many have turned even to teenage prostitution. Having a dirty old man touch you and pay you doesn’t seem to me like a fair substitute for a father’s love. One study says that upwards of 9% of high school girls and even upwards of 4% of JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS report having participated in such prostitution.

The Japanese need the Lord and our love as well. So the Lord called me, my family, and our team to love the Japanese people.


- Michael Oh, Founder/President of CBI, Nagoya, Japan

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 

Forgiveness, Gospel Restoration/Love, & Historical Horrors of Japan

I’m not Japanese. I’m Korean.

But my father was born Japanese – or at least he was forced to take a Japanese name Hideo Matsuyama as a subject of the Japanese Imperial Government which controlled Korea from 1910 to 1945. As a child he would be beaten if he used his Korean name Sung Kyu Oh or spoke Korean.

And now I his son serve as a missionary among the people he was taught to hate. And there is perhaps good reason humanly speaking to hate the Japanese. We talk about the horrors of the holocaust when Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews and 20 million Russians.

According to Historian Thomas Chalmers the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Koreans, Chinese and other Asians. There was a holocaust in Asia – but no one
seems to have noticed.

In Asia Japanese scientists tested various chemical and biological weapons such as
bubonic plague and anthrax on human victims.

Human vivisection was performed without anesthesia; body parts were cut off and blood loss tested.

Women were impregnated by soldiers and doctors; their bellies sliced open; their
babies removed and then tested upon leading to their death.

Nazi scientists who visited Japanese medical experimentation facilities vomited from
the horror of what they saw.

200,000 Korean women and girls as young as 12 years old were forced to be sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial army, subject to rape upwards of 100 times per day. They are known today euphemistically as the “Comfort Women.”

Many of them ended up dead as we can see in this picture a ditch filled with the dead
bodies of women. By the way all of these pictures were taken by Japanese soldiers as
souvenirs.

Undergirding all of these medical and sexual atrocities was a racist ideology that sought to subdue, civilize and subject lesser races and peoples.

On top of all of this, many Japanese leaders today STILL do not admit to fault during
Japan’s Imperialist past and they wonder why Koreans and Chinese and other Asians aren’t more thankful.

It should come as no surprise then, that the question that people most often ask me
about our mission work is, “WHY JAPAN?”

“Of all the places in the WORLD, why would a Korean person choose Japan?” The answer that I give is quite simply, “Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’”


- Michael Oh, Founder/President of Christ Bible Institute, Nagoya, Japan

- I should also note here that I have heard that as many as 2,000 Korean missionaries are serving in Japan. Please pray for these brothers & sisters as it would be just like God to use them dramatically, sweepingly, to bring the light of Christ into the land of 8 million gods.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 

My Only Hope.

In 1531 Luther lectured for the second time on the Epistle to the Galatians, the great polemical writing of St. Paul in which he attacks an understanding of Christianity as a religion of what man does...Luther wrote a preface acknowledging that the content of this commentary were his thoughts and said, 'For in my heart there rules this one doctrine, namely, faith in Christ. From it, through it, and to it all my theological thought flows and returns, day and night'.

He defines justification thus: 'that we are redeemed from sin, death, and the devil and endowed with eternal life, not through ourselves and certainly not through our works, which are even less than we are ourselves, but through the help of Another, the only Son of God, Jesus Christ'.

Justification is a matter of life and death. Negatively it means to be freed from sin, death, and the devil, ­free from the bondage of evil, free from the consequences of evil, death, and eternal damnation, and positively that we receive eternal life. In another passage in this commentary, Luther defines justification in a way that brings out some other nuances: 'But the doctrine of justification is this, that we are pronounced righteous and are saved solely by faith in Christ, and without works'.

Justification is that we are pronounced righteous or acquitted. Here Luther follows St. Paul in the way he uses legal language to describe how man is saved. God pronounces man righteous, as a judge gives the verdict. The difference is that an earthly judge has to acquit the innocent and to condemn the guilty. He has to judge according to the defendant's actions, what he has done. God does it differently. He does not judge us according to our deeds, but He pronounces us innocent, even though we are according to our actions guilty. A human judge searches for innocence in the accused. God finds only guilt but imputes to man Christ's righteousness.

This legal language safeguards that the reason for our justification is not something we have done, do, or will do, but solely what Christ has accomplished on the cross. It teaches us to look outside of us for salvation and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and His righteousness during our life and never ever trust that we are pleasing to God because of what we do, but rather to realize that we are pleasing to God because of Christ.



- Rev. Roland F. Ziegler

Monday, February 09, 2009 

Spotlight: Zambia & Baba Mkubwa Justin

The title of this blog is Serving in Shizuoka. Whoever comes here either comes by accident or because they want to see what is going on with the Rainer's in Shizuoka City, how to pray for the missionaries & the Japanese, etc...So why in the world are we focusing on Zambia?

Because if you love the Rainers, you have to love a man named Justin serving in Zambia, a constant pray-er & encourager of our ministry & lives. Sometimes you wait & wait to hear from your closest friends. Sometimes you're desperate for a word of news from home or someone just to check in on you or just to remind you that you're not forgotten (I'm talking about not just our 1 month here, but also our summer in Indonesia).

But then the Lord raises up Justins. Did I attend grade school through high school with Justin? Nope. College? Nope. Seminary? Nope. Neighbors? Nope. Church members...yes. Justin was a college student at Auburn while I was in seminary, & we simply made some evangelistic visits together. I loved his company, but I never knew the Lord was giving me such an advocate. And what I cannot get over is that he is on the front lines in Zambia himself, no wife, no child, & yet he focuses on the cross & on others serving & seeks to bring them before the throne & build them up. All I know to do to show love & thanks is to ask those of you who come across this today to lift up Justin in prayer & the people of Zambia.

PRAYER REQUESTS from JUSTIN:

Ministry:

- That those who have and are being discipled will share their faith with the relationships they have and will be intentional on making relationships in order to share Christ.

- I’ve really been burdened lately by illiteracy among some new Christian women. Pray with me about this. Pray that this will not frustrate them as they can’t read. That their husbands will read the Word to them. That they will be able to remember much Scripture and stories.

- Two villages that have come together to form a church are in prayer about doing storying in another village. Pray for God’s vision and wisdom.

- A fresh outpouring of the Spirit here in Kaputa, Zambia. My fear and belief, although not judgement, is that the majority of people here who say they are Christians and even go to church aren’t. Now, only God reads and knows hearts, so pray that He will reveal Himself to those who are spiritually blind. And pray that I and others here will proclaim Truth, that He may set the captives free.

Personally:

- Here are some Scriptures I pray daily...Isaiah 40:28-31, Ps. 27:4; 27:8; 37:3-5, 90:12-14; Prv. 3:4-5; Matt. 5:6; Rom 12:1-2; Phil 4:4-7; Heb 12:1-2; 1 Pt. 1:15-16.

- Especially pray, 'but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”' 1 Peter 1:15-16.

- Continued health and safety, especially when traveling. Roads are difficult – a lot of dirt and even the paved ones are pretty bad.

- My term finishes in August and I will need a job. I’m applying for teaching jobs. The economy is horrible, I have no experience, and I’m living in Zambia. It’s going to be all God. He loves to do the impossible and so Himself strong and faithful. I’ve been praying with Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12, “O God...We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” So just pray that I will continue to trust in His sovereignty and perfect plan and that He will provide the perfect job.

RESOURCES TO HELP PRAY FOR ZAMBIA :

1. Operation World - Zambia
2. Times of Zambia - News
3. Follow Justin on His Blog - Focused on the Cross
4. Watch SIM's Zambia Country Profile - Video

Sunday, February 08, 2009 

Imagine a Bird trapped in a Few Square Feet Flying Lowly over Shiz City...This Is What He Would See

video

Thursday, February 05, 2009 

The Marathon Has Begun!

Check out my post on our ministry team's website. Here's the link where all the info on our city, updates, & articles will be posted: http://www.outreachjapan.org/area/shizuoka

Monday, February 02, 2009 

Setsubun

Setsubun ("seasonal division") is a festival held on February 3 or 4, one day before the start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar. Setsubun is not a national holiday.

For many centuries, the people of Japan have been performing rituals with the purpose of chasing away evil spirits at the start of spring.

Around the 13th century, for example, it became a custom to drive away evil spirits by the strong smell of burning dried sardine heads, the smoke of burning wood and the noise of drums. While this custom is not popular anymore, a few people still decorate their house entrances with fish heads and holy tree leaves in order to deter evil spirits from entering.

In modern days, the most commonly performed setsubun ritual is the throwing of roasted beans around one's house and at temples and shrines across the country. When throwing the beans, you are supposed to shout "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out, happiness in"). Afterwards you should pick up and eat the number of beans, which corresponds to your age.

In Shizuoka City, the festival will be be held at Sengen Shrine from 3 pm, with priests and other participants throwing beans and small snacks to shrine visitors. Please pray that this traditional festival, which is rooted in animistic Shintoism, would have the Spirit of God fall on the participants.

Here is a video from the Setsubun festival in Shizuoka City 2 years ago to give you an idea:




- Japan-Guide.com is where the info came from

Sunday, February 01, 2009 

Shots from Around Shiz Town








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