Updates from John and Elaine Mehn
We are both well and we are safe. We are now in Illinois in the basement of our home. We left Japan last Thursday (4/9) on schedule. We are now in self-isolation for 2 weeks here in our basement as a precaution. We are amazed in God that we were able to complete our move to the US with Plan A on schedule. The Machida house was empty and clean when we left with no lose ends. Thank you to those who prayed for this important phase in our transition and especially those who joined us online to share and pray with us.
Just last week, the Japanese government declared a health emergency for 7 areas with increases in Covid-19 cases. Since then other regional governors have declared an emergency. Tokyo cases were increasing rapidly causing major decisions by the government. There are now over 8,000 cases of infection in Japan and without changes in behavior the projections are quite gloomy with over 400,000 projected deaths.
For the churches in Japan this new environment is very challenging, but many are coping well and there is even some good news. Many churches had to halt public worship services or those attending dropped to very low numbers. One church continues to meet as they have no cases in their city. Most churches basically stopped everything and are trying to keep connections with their members especially the aged. Others are coping quite well. We attended one church that had 150 or more, on one zoom call. It was very lively with small group discussions built in. We heard of one church seeing more people than ever. This global crisis has caused every church to ask themselves what is the church? If we can’t “go to church” then how can we “be church.” Great opportunity.
One church planter was planning to start public worship on March 1. This was to launch a series of 12 new churches in major Japanese cities. Well they had to settle for unadvertised meetings and have been meeting weekly with a very small group. But one person has been baptized already! Another church planter wrote me about the “new normal” where families are spending more time together, a rarity in Japan. Also one gifted musician has been able to talk more with the church people because all his gigs were cancelled. He is not yet a believer, but they have great opportunities to speak to him about Christ. Pray for growing opportunities.
Our States of Transition – Farewells & Departure
We had several farewell meetings canceled (Tim’s entire trip was cancelled) but some went on as scheduled. We had a great time at the Saitos where several gathered for lunch. One neighbor couple took us to a small restaurant (pub) for dinner and karaoke. Our last Japan Field Council was held with just the 4 of us but was very memorable. Our last Sunday we had a very short farewell at the Crossroad church. On Tuesday we and our friends the Watanabes had the whole restaurant to ourselves for a farewell dinner.
Departure – Pastor Nakano and his son took us to the airport by car. Then we were surprised in meeting Pastor Makoto Fukuda and his wife Michiru who were dropping off another party. We have been partners with the Fukudas in CPI and especially Japanese Grace Week. It truly was a God thing to meet with them at the airport. The trip to the US was uneventful through 2 airports. The 777 we flew was so empty we felt like it was kind of a private plane.
A NEW KIND OF HOME ASSIGNMENT
Home Assignment for missionaries is intended to get reacquainted with family and friends, some retooling and refreshment, and to connect with their ministry partners. “Home” always meant home passport country. Now with everyone practicing physical distancing home really means “home.” We were planning to hit the road in May visiting churches. Because of this social-distancing response to Covid-19, we will have to connect with you online rather than in person. We may be isolated, but we don’t want to be disconnected. Maybe you have some good ideas too, but we came up with some ways to accomplish this over the next several weeks. Let us know what you are interested in.
- Short video updates from John and Elaine. We will post on YouTube and our website and send along those links to you.
- Some churches have already requested video sermons from us. These we can do live or record ahead.
- Live online updates with John and Elaine via Zoom. This will be interactive with short updates and Q&A. We also want to hear from you our partners. Our next live update will be Thursday April 23rd CDT 7-8pm on Zoom. Come and join us but adjust your time accordingly. https://zoom.us/j/97750608803?pwd=QVdVT0NDRWg5SzhhN3hyenVnWUs4dz09
4. Live online prayer sessions with John and Elaine. We will be praying for each other and Japan. Our next online prayer session will be Tuesday April 28th CDT 7-8pm on Zoom. Let’s pray so adjust your time accordingly. https://zoom.us/j/95471653745?pwd=eU4yTlVWa2psTGhieEZyNkJrWFIrQT09
5. Some local churches may want to schedule their own live time with us. Go ahead and suggest when.
6. Live sessions with church leadership or mission teams. Kind of a coffee hangout for information and relationships. Let us know your interest.
7. Live sessions with individuals to connect and share updates.