Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hello, or as they’d say in Japan こんにちわ! (konnichiwa)

Only 2 and a bit weeks to go so the count down is on! I can’t believe that the time has gone by so fast! I have officially finished classes at Uni now, so I’m just hitting the books and learning what I need for the final exams.

It’s a hectic time for everyone on the team, so please pray this week that we continue to have clear minds and focus as we study. Pray that we would work as if working for the Lord, as Paul challenges us in Col. 3 to do.

I’ve also come to realise that as I’m trying to prepare for Megumi, I’m still stuck in my university mentality of study and work. When I go to Japan, this is going to have to be left behind and my focus will need to be the students on campus, and being completely determined to work for God. Please pray that this shift is easy so I can be effective from the moment I am in Japan.

Finally, let’s praise God for everything he has done so far with Mission Megumi!

- Building a team who are dedicated servants of Christ to go and spread his word.
- Enabling us all to attend training to get to know each other and become better equipped to share the gospel in Japan.
- Giving us missionaries who have experienced living and working in Japan before to guide us.
- Gathering together teams of prayerful and financial supporters to encourage us and give us the opportunity to see more of God’s kingdom in this world.
- That our accommodation, flights and finances have all been finalised.
- That he is going to use us to share his message of Love and Hope to the Students at Nagoya East University!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hi Everyone!!

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, only a few assignments left and my three exams to look forward to and then I’m off!

I had a few complications with my exam timetable – the exam timetabling people forgot to put in one of my exams and when they did schedual it, it was on the 16th – disaster because we are due to leave on the 15th of November!!

After checking with my lecturer and the timetabling people though, everything was fine for me to take an alternate sitting on the 9th so no worries there! Praise God!

Also, we have had an update from our missionary contact in Japan, Judy. He has arranged accommodation for us with broadband internet so that is finalized. Thanks for your prayers! Also, 2 more Japanese students became Christians last week! Praise God!!

Please continue to pray for the whole team as we approach our exams and assignment deadlines. Also as we continue to support raise, that God would bless us and provide for our needs.

Finally if you could please pray that any worries or anxiety we have about the upcoming mission will be replaced by God’s peace in our lives as we trust him completely with our lives.

Thanks so much for joining with me in Megumi! I almost can't believe it's happening! The orientation last week was fairly full on but it was a blessing to get to know some of the people going and see what kind of a team God has put together.

I've attached a photo of everyone for you, From Back to Front and Left to Right, there is: Jody (A missionary who currently works in Japan), Paula (that's me!), Andy (from Sydney Uni), George (from The University of NSW), Cecilia (from Monash Uni), Shiho (also from Monash), Wai Ling (our team missionary (currently working at Monash Uni) and Ester (Uni of NSW).

It was excellent to meet these people and see their heart for God. I can't wait to do big things in Japan for his Kingdom!

Prayer Points:

1) That the training we did in Sydney for our orientation would remain in our heads, especially the conflict resolution training which will no doubt come in handy as we will be living in very close quarters in Japan together for 5 weeks.

2) For accommodation to be found in an area close to the university or the bus stations so we are able to work efficiently.

3) For the campus to be prepared to hear God's word, especially in the administration levels, who notoriously are opposed to anything new.

Thanks so much for getting back to me and letting me know you are on board to support! It means so much that you can be a partner with me as we work for God in Japan.

I’m heading down to Sydney for my orientation for Megumi tomorrow morning and I’ll be gone until Thursday night. When I’m down there I will meet the seven other people joining me in Japan. Three of them are from Sydney Universities and four are from Melbourne Universities. I will be the only member of our team from Brisbane!

Please pray that all the students wanting to serve in Japan are united and build strong fellowship over the next few days. Also pray for my support raising to continue being blessed. God has amazed me so much by the response he has given me in people’s generosity already.

Finally please pray as I prepare for mission as well as endeavour to finish my final assignments and study for exams that I will continue to set aside time to spend with God and not get too busy.

Thanks again! Hope to update you more soon!
Dear Family in Christ

As you know, for the last two years I’ve been working with a Christian group at University called Student Life. They are a world wide organisation committed to sharing the gospel and building students to live as Christ did. At Griffith, I have been a part of leading bible studies, organising socials and attending outreaches to help this movement grow because I share the same vision that they are trying to achieve; turning lost students into Christ-centred labourers.

To this end, every year Student life orginises mission trips commonly known as “Summer Projects”. During the Australian Summer, Student Life members take two or three weeks out of their lives to devote their time to sharing the gospel through their actions and words at events like Schoolies and at Universities where International Students are taking Summer Courses. Last year, I was part of one of these mission trips. I spent three weeks at QUT sharing the gospel with the International Students there, many of whom had never encountered Christianity before.

This year, I have the chance to combine two of my greatest passions; Sharing God’s word and Japan. I lived in Japan for one year and for the last three years I have been studying Japanese as one of my Majors at Uni. Japan is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to, and is filled with some of the most sincere people. It is almost a shock to think that it has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world. As well as that, less than 1% of the population claim to be Christian and the running joke about Japan is that the people are born Shinto, die Buddhist and in between have a Christian-style marriage. The Japanese people are searching for the real meaning to their lives.

I am so excited to have the chance to share that meaning with them; that there is a God who created and loves them, and who went through death on a cross to make a relationship with him possible.

This Summer Student Life is running a mission trip to Japan called “Megumi” which means Grace in Japanese. It will run for four weeks from the 17th of November to 17th December. I am planning to join a team of seven other Australian students at University in Nagoya to befriend the students there and share my faith with them.

It will be an unbelievable challenge to minister to such a culturally different nation but I believe that God calls us to go to the nations with his message of reconciliation. In response to that call, I am eager to go and I am asking if you would be able to partner with me in this. If you are able to support me by prayer, please let me know so I can update you with our prayer needs. This is one of the most important ways you can help and I would be honoured if you would join with me this way. I also need to raise $4000 by the beginning of November, so if you feel that God is calling you to support this mission financially that would be a blessing too.

I look forward to talking with you more about this soon and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call me.

Thank you and God Bless.
In Christ

Monday, October 01, 2007


The Gospel, the good news of God, which I am going to represent to those in Japan, is what we read from every Sunday here in Church. The life of Jesus, as told in the first four books of the new testament in the bible, is what we as a Christian community know as the Gospel.

Today’s gospel reading came from the book of Luke. Just to recap what was read from Luke 16: 19- 31, it is Jesus telling a story. He tells of a rich man and a poor sick guy called Lazarus. Now in this story, the rich guy does his thing, the poor sick guy does his thing and when they both die, the rich guy ends up in hell and it’s the poor guy who is enjoying the luxuries of heaven.

We don’t know much about the rich man, but from what he says to Abraham, who is evidently showing Lazarus a good time in heaven for all to see, he’s pretty shocked to be where he is. Verse 27 – 28 shows that he is worried for his brother and father, who are living the same life as he did. He is worried that without someone to warn them, they will end up somewhere they didn’t expect either.

So why was this man so shocked at where he ended up? He was a rich man, he probably gave his 10% at the Synagogue, probably did say his prayers and observe the Sabbath. He was expecting heaven; and yet he ended up in hell.

What was he missing? What went wrong in his life? Was there somewhere that he missed dotting an i? or crossing a t?

Verse 30 shows us that even he knew what went wrong. He says “if someone would go to them from the dead, they would repent” This rich man in Jesus story finally realises that all his actions were for nothing, because his heart was not in the right place. He had not repented and turned to God.

So what is the point of Jesus telling us this story? Why is he stopped in the middle of wherever to make this point? If you read all of chapter 16, you will notice what’s going on. Firstly Jesus is talking to his disciples. This could have been any of the “special 12” to the 50 or so people that genrally followed people around. Also notice that he isn’t far away somewhere doing this, Jesus is out in the open possibly on a street, possibly in the synagoguge, maybe in a house, either way, he is somewhere there are more than just a select few can hear his message.

Verse 14 says “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” The Pharisees – they were listening in!

After they start to make a scene and try to mock Jesus, he goes on to tell this story. So who is this story for? Who is it directed to? I'd say that all the poor people around Jesus would have been thinking – YES! I’m going to heaven! But there is a huge point here that Jesus is making to the Pharisees.

What did the Pharisees expect to get out of life? We know they considered themselves righteous, they thought “we give our 10%, we wash our hands before we eat, we make sure we are nice and clean – we are set for heaven”. The Pharisees knew the law and were so intent on keeping it, they thought that was all there was to it.

What do we in hindsight know about the Pharisees? All they were doing was a show, their hearts were not right with God. They were so caught up in working their way to God that they had forgotten that God didn’t want our sacrifices and our works, but our hearts and our lives.

Sounds fimilliar: the rich man, doing all his good things expecting heaven and getting hell; and there is Jesus laying it out for the Pharisees: if you keep doing “stuff” expecting heaven – you are only headed down.

So what does this mean for us. Who are we in this story? Are we the self righteous rich man, doing our Sunday worship and expecting heaven?

If we are true followers of Christ, the bible gives us great promises about what to expect. John 3:16, so well known and yet so elequonte, says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

What are we expecting as believers of God’s son? Eternal Life! John 17:3 explains it more for us: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

John 1:12 says “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” As Children of God we can expect eternal life – God’s inheritance for his Children.

Now, how can we be 100% assured that this is going to happen for us. Even the Pharisees thought they had it good to go - they were set to see God’s kingdom.

Looking back at the gospel, in Luke 16: verse 30 it’s laid out right there for us. Not only does Jesus tell his story to people to show them what’s going on, the real extent of their condition and their lives, he also gives them the answers to their “what now?” questions.

Verse 30 reads: 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

That key word there – the last word in that sentence: Repent. That’s all that is needed. Now maybe the Pharisees were thinking “I’ve repented twice today already, this Jesus guy knows nothing,” but what does repentance actually entail?

Repentance is the feeling and act in which one recognizes and tries to right a wrong, or gain forgiveness from someone that they wronged. In religious contexts it usually refers to repenting for a sin against God. It always includes an admission of guilt, and also includes at least one of: a solemn promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reverse the harmful effects of the wrong where possible

Repenting is not just saying you are sorry – it is the act of realising you have done something wrong and are turning away from it. It is a 180 in the other direction. It is sorry this way – and then hello to this way!

This is the good news: Jesus called us to a relationship with with him by admitting our sins and turning to him!

To know God, to become his children, to receive his promises, we need to repent: acknowledge our sin and turn to God.

How can we put this into practice? What does it mean for us?

When was the last time we knew that assurance? That 100% feeling – I’m walking toward God today. When was the last time you weren't just doing the right thing not just coming to church on a Sunday and not just giving your 10%, but were actually doing it for the right reasons? When was the last time you realised that you can’t get to heaven on your own, and you need to turn to God to even take a step in the right direction?

God doesn't’ want things, acts, money or attendance – he wants our lives. Have you given him yours today?