We’ve made it to Ohio! We drove across 10 state lines and have arrived at the next place we plan to make home for several months. We’re staying in the finished basement of a sweet, young couple from Grace Fellowship. Our plan is to make this a bit of a home base as we travel around to the many Grace Brethren churches in the Ohio and Pennsylvania area. There are tons of Grace Brethren churches here and we’re praying for the Lord to help us create new friendships and partnerships to bring the Gospel to Japan. If you're interested, here’s a map of how many churches are a part of our association in this area: http://www.fgbc.org/churches/index. Tons, right! Please join us in prayer as we invest in this community for the next several months. Our major prayer is to raise the remaining 50% of support from these churches (and would love if this could be accomplished by January). There is so much excitement for us in making it to Ohio. This is a major answer to prayer and we’ve reached a great milestone with having crossed the 50% mark on our recurring support. We trust that the Lord has great plans to use this region to reach the Japanese. And so we praise Jesus for going before us and preparing the way! With all this said, this step also comes with a mix of emotions. Leaving for Ohio makes our more permanent move to Japan so much more substantial. We’ve always said things like “we know we’ll have to sacrifice to live in Japan. We’ll sacrifice relationships with our families and friends, but it’s so worth it so that the Japanese people can hear how much Jesus cares for them”. And we fully stand behind that statement. However, the sacrifice is becoming that much more real.
I was watching I Love Lucy last night and am pretty sure it’s the only time this show has made me cry :) It was an episode where Lucy moves to the country and she misses the Mertzes. I didn’t even notice until 10 minutes into the show that I had tears running down my cheeks. Oh Lucy, I get you.
We’ve had to say so many goodbyes to people we deeply love. Goodbyes to our families and goodbyes to our friends and church family. Every one of you that’s reading this is someone we’ve interacted with and care about. This move just feels so much more real and makes the goodbyes just that much harder. I was speaking with a friend of mine, Laura, who spent a good chunk of her life in Brazil as missionaries with her family. She teared up as she said “goodbyes just never get any easier”. And she knows exactly what it is to pick up and leave people behind for the sake of the Gospel. We see our family and friends settling in, becoming established in the States. We see their young children growing up and know that those very kids we love will only know us through video chat. We feel the sting of leaving as we see people we care for preparing to welcome a new baby into the family. We feel it when we watch our newlywed friends taking their vows and starting their lives together. Knowing that our future relationships will be through the use of technology is tough. We think of how our future children won’t be able to interact with all these amazing people we know and love. Jesus tells us in Luke 14 to count the cost. There’s a reason He brings it up. There is a cost to following Him and that cost is our lives. They’re now His and He gets to determine how He uses them.
The Lord is so good in walking us through this next season. I’m feeling all these emotions as each state takes us a little further from our special people. We decided to listen to an audio book from David Platt called “Follow Me”. Here’s a little excerpt from it:
“Jesus wanted followers from every nation on earth, so he commanded his disciples to reach them and train them. And that’s exactly what they did—but this work is still not finished. He expects us to follow in their footsteps and structure our lives so that our actions revolve around completing this mission… Yes, there is a cost that accompanies stepping out of casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity, but it is worth it. More aptly put, he is worth it. Jesus is worthy of far more than intellectual belief, and there is so much more to following him than monotonous spirituality. There is indescribable joy to be found, deep satisfaction to be felt, and an eternal purpose to be fulfilled in dying to ourselves and living for him.”
I couldn’t have put it any better! Obedience to Jesus’ call to make Himself known is worth the cost. He is worthy.
For each of your reading this update now, we are thankful for you. You’ve had an impact on our lives and we feel honored to take part of your ministry to reaching the nations. Jesus calls each of us to follow Him. Of course, the call may express itself differently in each of our lives as we seek Him. For Matt and I, the call is to go. We are thankful for so many of you in joining us in this call to make disciples of all nations.
Trusting Jesus in the details, Jen