How Beautiful – I knew this was going to be good, but I never imagined what I actually experienced. At Grace Week, one Japanese leader after another shared about their weakness, their struggles, their inner heart -idolatry, and their need for repentance. They were so genuine and confident in the grace of God. To be in the room was so freeing as they brought the core truth that Jesus has done all that is needed to redeem us. How beautiful For these Japanese leaders to model transparency and spiritual need and to show how relevant the gospel is in the Japanese society. This is giving me hope, these people hope, and hope for the church in Japan, But then again even more so there is great hope in the gospel for delivering Japanese from their enslavement and freeing them to be who God made them to be.
From Struggle to Grace – Grace Week is an intensive week of spiritual renewal training that involves presentations, small groups, fellowship and meeting with a personal mentor daily. (We made a video about Grace Week that you may want to view or share with your small group.) We had 7 sessions led by 4 presenters which I helped prepare for this event. Two women shared stories about being vulnerable about their struggles and what they are learning about grace. During one testimony I noticed the room had gone completely silent. People were really listening. Then shortly after that probably half of the room was in tears. God through his Holy Spirit had really visited us through those who shared from their hearts what the gospel was doing in their lives. Their sharing helped us open our hearts to our deepest needs.
God Loves to Share Grace – God really worked in developing this Japanese version of Grace Week. This event was the culmunation of over 3 years of planning and prayer by CPI to bring Grace Week to Japan. Several months ago we in faith outlined what we would like the first Japanese Grace Week to look like. We decided we needed about 20 participants, with 10-15 mentors, and 4-6 presenters. When registration closed we had nearly exactly what we had planned. God knew what we needed to be successful the first time so we could build on that. We want to thank you for praying for Grace Week Japanese. God really orchestrated the right event to start out. One pastor mentioned he was a bit concerned doing the first Grace Week, but God had worked and he is thrilled to do another. We are looking to maybe doubling next time.
Groundswell for More – Earlier in the week I had heart-to-hearts with several of the leaders. They were all dreaming about the NEXT Grace Week. On Thursday, I asked all the participants should we do it again. In a very unJapanese way they spontaneously shouted and cheered. Everyone is enthused about working on the next one. Please pray for our future planning meeting on Friday, June 21st.
John Gets Grace Too – The last several months have been the most challenging and stretching ministry I have had through my years in Japan. This time I was not “doing” but “empowering” and “developing” people for this ministry. I was just being the scaffolding around the Grace Week Japanese building. To develop the presenters and mentors was very enjoyable but also much work. But now, they are all ready to do it again! Grace Week is all about being a disciple of Jesus. But discipleship at another level – the level of the heart. Before and during Grace Week God has been examining and teaching me about my heart. These lessons have lead me to more dependence and contentment in his leading in my life and less worry and desire for control. So me along with everyone else cannot wait for the next Grace Week.