We have limped blindly into impossible situations and seen God’s miraculous provision and blessing.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘GO from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…’ so Abram went, as the Lord told him… and Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered… and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.” Genesis 12:1-5
Sarah and I are not so different. Sure, we are separated by roughly 4,000 years (along with significant redemptive history) and I probably won’t live to see my 127th birthday like her. I can’t know for sure, but I doubt that I’ll be turning heads of kings and Pharaohs when I’m an old lady. Still, I have identified with Sarah in my journey following Jesus.
Years ago while living in Joplin, my husband, Jay, and I began praying about an opportunity to join a team that would seek to plant churches in unreached urban areas. After we got married, we committed to the vision and team but we had no idea what city or even country would be our landing point. What we knew is that Jesus had told us to “GO therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
So the day came when we loaded up our livestock, tents, and nephew, Lot, to head to Canaan. Actually, we just had a lot of bags (8 to be exact), and we boarded a plane to GO, like Abraham and Sarah to follow God to Japan, a land on which we’d never stepped foot. It was February 2008 and we were headed to “the missionary graveyard,” home of the largest unreached people group at that time.
Over the last eleven years, we have seen God be faithful to his promises to be with us, always. We have limped blindly into impossible situations and seen God’s miraculous provision and blessing. We initially planned to be 100 percent funded before we moved overseas, but when that didn’t work out, we had to trust God to fill in the gaps and provide for our needs. We didn’t plan on losing so many teammates in the first few years, but God proved faithful and provided more workers for the harvest (we now have over 50 adults as part of our Mustard Seed Network team).
From the beginning, we planned to be in Tokyo. When God pointed us to the city of Nagoya (where on earth?), we trusted and obeyed. The new Nagoya church grew and disciples were made and from that church, we were sent out to plant in Osaka, a city of 19 million people.
Out of the Osaka church, God provided teams to plant more churches in Kobe and Kyoto. We could have never planned for the joy of seeing over 110 people come to Christ. We’ve seen gutsy prayers answered. We’ve seen Japanese orphans adopted. We’ve seen people who’d never met a Christian before become pastors-in-training.
In March 2019, Jay and I found ourselves back at the beginning again as we shared with our beloved congregation in Osaka that we will be moving to plant another Mustard Seed Christian Church. This time in Tokyo, the place to which we’d initially planned to GO.
This time we won’t be leaving the land of our fathers, but rather the city we’ve come to love. Osaka was once a land of uncertainty. Now it’s home. It’s where God led us, walked with us, blessed us, and proved faithful (again) to his promises. I love it here. But I also know that God sometimes calls us to GO into the unknown. Like Sarah, I will once again pack up my belongings and walk into Canaan. And I know God will be with me.
This song is really special to me and I’ve listened to it in seasons where I had to GO into the unknown to follow God’s leading.
Canaan Bound
by Andrew Peterson
Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan bound
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron’s hills are amber crowned
So bid your troubled heart be still
The grass, they say, is soft and green
The trees are tall and honey-filled
So, Sarah, come and walk with me
Like the stars across the heavens flung
Like water in the desert sprung
Like the grains of sand, our many sons
Oh, Sarah, fair and barren one
Come to Canaan, come
I trembled at the voice of God
A voice of love and thunder deep
With love He means to save us all
And Love has chosen you and me
Long after we are dead and gone
A thousand years our tale be sung
How faith compelled and bore us on
How barren Sarah bore a son
So come to Canaan, come
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron’s hills are amber crowned
Oh, Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan bound

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