Carol recently returned from cell group Bible study full of joy and thanks for her Japanese sisters. She had mentioned to the group that it was a bit hard on her, and on Martha, that she is not in Virginia with Martha to pick out the wedding dress and do other wedding prep together as mother and daughter. One dear friend, Mariko, cried as she empathized with Carol, and thanked her for the sacrifice of being here in Japan, away from Martha. It was a special time together.
Along the same lines, our church ladies threw a lunch party for Carol’s parents when they were here last month. As honored guests they were seated at a head table, given gifts, a concert, and many kind emotional sentiments reflecting thanks for sending our family to share the riches of Christ with our Japanese believers. Then, after worship on Sunday, Carol’s dad gave a greeting to the whole congregation. He stood up front with me below the podium with the wireless mike, all eyes fixed on him. (He is a very impressive guy, dignified, strong, 79-year old former Marine Colonel.) Usually, many folks leave quickly after the benediction to rush home to non-Christian spouses/ family who are not so happy with them attending worship; but this day, no one moved.
Dad Chase told how they had received a very serious telephone call from us when we were in seminary. He knew it was serious when we requested that all four of us be on the phone. When we told them that we were prayerfully considering going to Japan as career missionaries, he recalled, with clarity and emotion, their initial reaction. They had lost Carol’s younger sister, Martha, after a long, difficult illness, and felt as though they were getting ready to lose their only other daughter. No one moved. As I interpreted for him, passing the mike back and forth, everyone’s eyes going back and forth between him and me, I thought about how they were hanging on his every word, listening more intently than they had to my sermon a little earlier.
Dad went on to say that, yes, it was difficult to send us to Japan, and still is difficult on them for us to be here. “But being here today worshiping God with you, seeing what God is doing among you makes it all worth it, and gives us great joy to be a part of this by sending our family here.” When he finished, he and Carol’s mom were practically mobbed by people wanting to meet them and express their thanks. We do love these people.
Last night our church staff of 3 Japanese guys and their families gathered with us for our church/staff fellowship time. We had the best time laughing, eating, sharing, laughing, singing, praying, eating more, and laughing some more. We love these people. It’s been 21 years and six months. We still cannot imagine being anywhere else, doing anything else, with anyone else.
We are especially thankful to many of you who keep us here by your prayers and financial support. None of us can support every worthy cause, nor pray for every good Kingdom endeavor. But to those of you who are led to stand behind us, many of you for 22 years now, we are deeply grateful. Thank you!