Friday, February 20, 2009

Oh Wow, Tomorrow's Saturday! - To The Rising Sun With The Risen Son (Part 9)

Jonathan Eller in front of a statue of a Sumo wrestlerYesterday was a busy day. The past two have been a bit of a blur to tell the truth. I think if I am remembering correctly that we kind of took our time yesterday morning getting ourselves ready to go. We got lunch at a restaurant called Jonathan's (they even spelled it right!) which is kind of the equivalent of a Japanese Shoney's. The food was good and the best part was that it was reasonably inexpensive. David was impressed that I was able to eat corn and rice with chopsticks. I'm getting pretty good!

When we took this picture a policeman was walking by. He kind of smiled when he saw that I was posing like the sumo in the picture. I see now that I needed to extend my arm more...

After lunch we hopped on the train and went to the OCC (not the same one from the stupid TV show) to visit with the people from Japan Evangelical Missions Association (JEMA). David had met some of the people from this group on his last trip to Japan. We had signed up for a fellowship that they are having on Monday night and wanted to see if it also might be possible to sit in on some other parts of the conference that they are having.

We really didn't know how long we would be there. When we arrived the Association's administrator was trying to finish up some booklets for one of the sessions of the conference. We jumped in and helped to bind them. It was fun. By the time we had finished there were several missionaries working on the booklets and we were having a great time chatting with each other.

The one that we spoke to most is a Brazilian missionary named Gilberto. Part of his ministry focuses on serving the Brazilian-Japanese population here in the Tokyo area. He is also in the process of trying to get a prayer ministry started here. A couple from his church attended the One Thing Conference that I have been raving about since December and have been spending some time at the International House Of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Gilberto also had the opportunity recently to visit the Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. I am excited about what he is getting started here. I believe that committed prayer will begin to change the atmosphere here like nothing else has been able to do so far.

He told us that there really hasn't been a strong prayer focus in the churches in Japan. I had to admit that there hasn't been one in the churches in America either. Perhaps that is why the numbers of Evangelical Christians has been shrinking instead of growing in our country.

The OCC (Ochanomizu Christian Center) sits on land purchased by an Irish missionary known as "Sensei" Irene Webster-Smith. The story of how that came about was pretty amazing. I think David may have told the story in a blog post from his earlier trip. Here is a little blurb from a book that David has about Irene that was published in 1965 titled Sensei: The Life Story of Irene Webster-Smith

"With only $18 to her name she (Irene Webster-Smith) bought a house in Tokyo to establish a Christian Student Center. And despite the fact that its price was $18,000, she never once missed a payment. Fourteen years later the property was worth $1,000,000"

Can you imagine what it would be worth today? The building houses many Christian ministries and also has a very nice Christian Bookstore on the second floor.

After we finished up at the OCC we decided to grab some supper. We ate at a Subway just up the street. They have some different menu offerings here. I had an avocado and shrimp sandwich. It was pretty good. I would eat that again. They also had some different cookies from the ones that we can get back in the States. I had a really delicious chocolate and coconut cookie. Mmmm.

The area where we were was full of guitar shops. I think we counted five or six! It was guitar players' heaven. By the time we got back to the hotel we were thoroughly exhausted.

A Fender amp that goes to 12This morning it was raining when we got up. We took our time getting ready to go and by the time we were ready to get some lunch the rain had stopped. We went down to Ginza and had lunch and decided to walk around and see what we could see. One of the places we stopped was a giant music store. I think three floors were CDs. Then they had additional instruments as we continued up the building. One floor was mostly guitars. That was neat. We found an amp that went all the way up to 12! They also were having a special emphasis on recorders. They had every size of recorder (remember the one they tried to teach you to play in elementary school?) imaginable. One of the large ones cost ¥ 300,000! (That's roughly $3,000!) These were all made of wood. I saw one the same size as the one I have for about ¥ 1400. I was very tempted.

We ended up in a department store with a Starbucks on the top floor. We were both pretty tired so we stopped for a bit to give our feet a rest. While we have been here I have been reading The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. I pulled it out to read while I was having a lovely chai latte. He made a comment that I thought was a little shocking. He said,

It is not those who profess to know Christ who will enter heaven, but those whose lives are holy. Even those who do "great Christian works" will not enter heaven unless they also do the will of God. Jesus said, "not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons, and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil-doers!'"

I have always thought that this saying of Jesus was radical, but today when I read this in conjunction with the words that Mr. Bridges wrote I realized just how different this is than the "gospel" that is being preached in many places - especially the United States. How many times have you heard someone declare that holiness is required to enter heaven? As I have pondered this passage what he says is certainly true. Without obedience to God's Word - holiness - we won't see God. And if we don't know Christ - truly having relationship with Him - then we won't desire holiness or be equipped to walk in it. What a fearsome passage of scripture.

After our break we did a little souvenir shopping - more window shopping really. All the stuff we saw there was pretty expensive. Still looking for something cool to take home for my niece and nephew that won't break the bank.

There was another park that David had seen on the map that he wanted to see. So we headed over that direction. As we rounded a building we came face to face with....

Godzilla statueG

As you can imagine we were quite excited about it. He wouldn't sign any autographs and he didn't destroy any buildings, so we got bummed and left.

When we got to the park there were lots of things to see. The park was apparently the first western style garden/park in the country. We came across some different kinds of statuary, including, oddly enough, a copy (I think) of that statue of the she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus. There was a statue of what we are guessing was a Roman or Greek goddess. We found some other turtle statues. There were some interesting things strewn about the park.

Liberty Bell reproduction in Tokyo JapanBut I think the thing that surprised David and me the most was when we found a replica of the Liberty Bell right there on a high knoll in the park.

It turns out that General MacArthur got some American businesses to donate it to Japan after the war. There was a plaque on the back side that explained. There were also some Japanese characters on the bricks that made up the tower. We couldn't read them though.

After we finished up at the park we headed back toward the hotel for the evening, but stopped at a restaurant for some more traditional Japanese fare for dinner. This was the biggest adventure of the day by far. In fact, it may have been the biggest adventure of the trip.

When we looked at the menu outside of the restaurant it looked like something we would enjoy eating. When we got inside, we very quickly discovered that we were in trouble. Only one fellow knew any English at all and the entire menu was in Japanese. (Imagine that! Where do they think this is? Japan?) After much pointing and grunting and referring to a handy dandy pocket dictionary, it became pretty clear that most of the stuff on the menu was going to gross David and me out. Somehow we managed to order. I am really not sure what it was I got, although I have an idea and being not sure is fine with me. All I know is that my meal tasted very good even if the texture was a little unusual.

Tonight we have done laundry and I have been blogging and uploading pictures to my Facebook account. If you aren't on Facebook and would like to see the pictures you can click on these links to the albums:

Japan 1

Japan 2

Hillary Motorcade

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Japan 3

Tomorrow we will catch up with a missionary friend of David's and deliver a "care package" from home. We found out tonight that she has conjunctivitis, so we'll be careful. Prayers for her good health and ours are very much appreciated. Hopefully by the time we meet her for lunch tomorrow she will be past the contagious stage.

It is really hard to believe that tomorrow is Saturday. Time has really flown. It will be time to go back home before I turn around good.

I was asked by a missionary friend today what the most amazing part of the trip has been so far. I didn't get to respond to her because things got off that track during our chat. But I have been pondering my answer ever since she asked it. I guess at this point the most dramatic thing that has happened has been that God got us over here in the first place. That, far and away, has been the most dramatic thing that has happened. But there have been other things too.

Three days before I left I started coming down with a cold. I had been around sick people for months and hadn't even gotten a sniffle and three days before I was supposed to go to Japan I was starting to get sick. I prayed and stood against the sickness myself for a day and realized that I wasn't going to be able to beat it on my own. I went to church that night and asked my church family to pray for me. I also got prayer from two other friends. The next day I was about 90-95% better! By the time I got on the plane I was well. Prayer works! Thanks, guys, for lending your faith to me!

Most of what we have been doing while we have been here could be called "spiritual mapping." In some Christian circles, spiritual mapping is a form of spiritual warfare that does research with the help of the Holy Spirit to uncover elements in a geographical region's past that have either made it more or less receptive to the move of God. Once you know the spiritual strengths and weaknesses of an area it is easier to know how to pray for that region.

I believe that a lot of what we have done while we have been here these first few days has been beneficial, but frankly David and I have been chomping at the bit to discover what was so important that we needed to uproot ourselves to the other side of the world. Perhaps obedience to God is sufficient, but we both feel that we are to do something here that will have a direct impact on the spiritual climate of this nation.

We may have received such a revelation tonight. I will not go into details at this time, but we will certainly be praying about this between now and Monday. Please pray with us that God will give us clarity of purpose and that we'll understand what He wants us to do without question. I would like to get some confirmation about this myself. And please also pray that we will have the boldness, confidence, and courage to be willing to do anything that the Lord asks us to do.

Thank you so much for reading and I'll be updating you again soon!

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