I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on top of a chair, hanging a sign at my English school, when the ground began to shift and sway in deep subtle movements. I knew right then that a powerful quake had just struck somewhere.
I looked on my phone to find that the quake had hit in northern Japan where some of our friends lived. We were able to contact them and learned they were scared but safe. After classes that night Meg and I drove home with an eerie anticipation to learn the full story of what had happened. When we turned on the news and saw the images of the tsunami we hit our knees in tears. The devastation was unimaginable. 2 days later we we’re on our way north to begin volunteer relief efforts. Nothing could have readied us for what we faced during those 2 weeks and nothing will ever be as it was before. Both for the people of Japan and for us.
Over the past 4 years the restoration of Tohoku has seen a lot of progress, as has my own heart. In a way it was during those 2 weeks of volunteering that the Holy Spirit began to call us to return to America. We left at the end of 2011 and I brought with me a heart, full of pride and arrogance, thinking that I would accomplish all I set out to do by my own strength. Yet, during our first year back in America, as we traveled around sharing our stories from Japan, I was made aware of my sin and brought to repentance. God eventually led us to Columbia, Missouri and into the welcoming arms of Karis Church. Now after a tremendous season of growth we are ready to set our sights on Japan once again. But, this time not just to return but rather to be sent. Sent by our church family to continue the work that Karis is already doing here in Columbia. Sent to share the good news about Jesus with the almost 30 million people of Tokyo who have never heard for, “how can they believe in whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14)
So it is on this eve of the 4th Anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake that we are announcing our plans to be sent from Karis Church to work with church planter Yoshito Noguchi in Tokyo. We will continue the spread of the gospel in this great city and share of the hope that Jesus brings to the hopeless. Our aim is to move back by the beginning of 2016. Would you pray for us as we begin to make preparations?