The Plans Of God
The plans are His. I must simply surrender to His leading and be open to how He can use me.
I’m writing this blog from Osaka, Japan. A small group of supporters from the Joplin area is here to meet with the staff of Mustard Seed Christian Church, including Jay and Caitlin Greer and Ethan and Audrey Greer. Christ’s Church has supported this work for several years. We’re here to encourage them, to hear and see their vision for this nation and to see how we can best partner with them.
I am blessed to be able to participate on this trip. Japan is an impressive place, but it is a nation almost completely void of Christ. It’s a well-developed, technologically advanced, highly industrialized nation. Even with its limited natural resources, it has the third largest economy in the world (second largest developed economy). Its people are intelligent and hard-working. They are very civilized, hospitable and polite. The country is clean, well-organized and the crime rate is mysteriously low. Drop your wallet or leave a cell phone behind and someone will hunt you down to return it. Freedom of religion has existed for almost 150 years, yet the presence of the Christian church just barely scratches the surface of this society.
It’s early Sunday morning. I’m excited that later this morning I will be able to worship our Lord with about 100 or so local residents at the Mustard Seed church in Osaka, a large church by Japanese standards. Sadly, there will be about nineteen million people, just in the Osaka metro area, who will not be attending church this morning. Less than one-half of one percent of the people attend church on a regular basis.
Today in Oronogo, Michael’s message will be based on the story of Gideon. God called on Gideon for a seemingly insurmountable task; that of defeating a huge Midianite force with a relatively small contingent using a very unconventional approach. An angel of the Lord asked Gideon to trust God. He had a plan for how Gideon would lead Israel to regain control, but He took a stepped approach in sharing that plan with Gideon. At first, God allowed Gideon to assemble an army of 32,000 men. While still out-sized by the 135,000 Midianites, it might, at least, have a fighting chance. He then pared back the size of Gideon’s army. This reduction was done in incremental steps as Gideon was having a difficult time with the vastness of the task at hand, wondering if he was really the guy for the job. He required confirmation and reassurances along the way. God wanted to make it clear that He was in control; that it was only through their faith in Him that they could defeat their enemy. Gideon followed God’s leading and the impossible was accomplished, the Midianites were effectively dealt with.
In this week’s blog, I’m asking if you will join me in praying for the work of Mustard Seed in Japan. They have churches in Osaka and Nagoya and will soon open a third in Kolbe. I can report that they have an exciting and impressive vision for what can happen here. But at the same time it’s daunting… at least to me. Mustard Seed and other Japanese Christian churches face a task as seeming insurmountable as that of Gideon’s. I have to give the task to God, letting Him identify the steps and methods for achieving His plan. I have to remember that God is in control. The plans are His. I must simply surrender to His leading and be open to how He can use me. I pray that ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ might someday become a place of vibrancy for the risen Son.