A Surprising Thing in our Lifetime: An Eulogy by Brett Rayl from CBI

Brett Rayl, Director and Team Leader for CBI Japan. cbijapan.org.  This is my personal account.

Aug 1, 2016

A Surprising Thing in our Lifetime: A Eulogy for the Pals Family

人生の中での驚くべきことパルズ家に送る言葉

Note: This post was updated 8/4/2016 to include a Japanese translation. Many thanks to Miho Gemmill for her hard work.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)

Jamison Pals first contacted me, June 4th, 2013. I had been serving as CBI’s Team Leader for only a few months, and he was following up on a conversation with Michael Oh about possible foundations CBI could connect with for support. It was a short but helpful email, and I remembered him — perhaps because he was trying to help us fundraise (which no one normally wants to do) or perhaps because he had such an interesting name.

ジェ ミソン・パルズと初めて連絡を取ったのは、2013年6月4日のことでした。私がCBIチームリーダーとして働き始めて数ヶ月経ったころで、マイケル・ オーから引き継ぎ、CBIと今後関係を築ける可能性のあるサポーターの方々に連絡をしていたときのことです。簡潔なやりとりでしたが、とても協力的なメー ルをもらい、彼のことを覚えていました。なぜなら、たいてい誰もがサポートレイズを嫌うものですが、彼はそれを助けたいと申し出てくれたからです。もしく は彼の名前がとてもユニークだったからかもしれません。

What I didn’t know at the time was that eleven days later, Jamison sent a “second proposal” to his wife, Kathryne, inviting her to consider missions in Japan for their family. Here is part of what he wrote:

Kathryne, I am asking you to go with me. Let’s go…or at least let us do everything in our power to go. The Lord may see fit to keep us here, but if he does not, let’s go. It may cost us much, but would you have it any other way? Whatever we lose will be worth it if we gain more of Christ. I believe the Lord is sending us. I am asking you to trust me. More importantly, I am asking you to trust God’s sovereign guidance and care. He will be with us, and he will go before us. Surely, his goodness and mercy will follow us all of the days of our lives. We will dwell with him forever, wherever we dwell for this life. You will never be without your God and your Savior.

しかし、その11日後、彼は妻のキャサリン宛てに、ともに日本に宣教へ行かないかと2度目の提案の手紙を書いていたことを私は知りませんでした。以下は、その手紙の一部です:

キャ サリン、僕と一緒に行きましょ。せめて、行くために私たちが出来ることをすべてやり尽くそ。もしかしたら主は私たち家族がここにいることが適している とみているかもしれない。でも、もしそじゃなかったら行こ。たくさん犠牲を払わなければならないかもしれない。でも、それほど価値があることだ。もし 僕たちがキリストをさらに得るのであれば、失ものには価値がある。主が僕たちを派遣しよとしていると僕は信じている。僕を信じて。いや、それ以上に、 神の主権ある導きと守りを信じて。神はいつも僕たちと共におられ、僕たちの先を行ってくださる。確かに、僕たちが生きている限り、神のいつくしみと恵みは 僕たちを追ってくるだろ。僕たちはどこにいよが、永遠に神と共にいるんだ。君は救い主の神と離れることは決してない。

Jamison had long had a heart for Japan and began to sense an undeniable call to go and share the gospel amongst the world’s second largest unreached people group.

ジェミソンは長い間、日本への重荷があり、 世界で2番目に福音が伝えられていない日本で福音を伝える為に日本へ向かう強い召しを感じ始めました。

My next interaction with Jamison was that November when Rob Boyle, a missionary on our team, connected us via email to let me know that their family was beginning to investigate opportunities to serve. That began a long and encouraging exchange about the possibility of them serving with CBI in Japan.

次に私がジェミソンと連絡を取ったのは11月で、私のチームの宣教師、ロブ・ボイルがメールで私たちを繋げてくれ、パルズ家が日本での奉仕の機会を模索し始めたことを知りました。それが、この後に続く、CBIでの働きの可能性についてのやり取りの始まりでした。

They didn’t skip steps and Jamison led his family well. We kept talking and the Lord made it clear to them and to us that they should spend a season serving with CBI via World Venture. They would work to learn the Japanese language and seek to build relationships for evangelism via our Heart & Soul Cafe ministry. Kathryne felt called to be a mom, and we told her from the beginning that because of that call, she would have more natural opportunities for outreach than Jamison would. Jamison already knew a lot about Japanese culture and their family was actively involved in ministering to Japanese people in the Twin Cities. They connected us with some of the students they were working with who were returning to Japan. Their passion for serving the Japanese people was apparent and compelling. They even began to mobilize others to consider Japan and helped send a vision team from Bethlehem to CBI this past summer. They had one more trip to Colorado and a just few more dollars to raise before they would be with us in Japan. I did their departure call with World Venture just two weeks ago. Our staff team emailed Jamison last week with apartment options for them to consider. We were all ready for the Pals to have a long season of faithful ministry with CBI in Japan.

彼 らは順序を飛ばすことなく、ジェミソンは家族をしっかりと率いてきました。私たちは話し合いを続け、主は彼らと私たちの両者に彼らがワールド・ベンチャー という宣教団体を通じて、CBIで奉仕することを明確にしてくださいました。彼らは日本語を学び、ハート&ソウルカフェのミニストリーを通じて伝道する予 定でした。キャサリンは母親としての使命を感じ、私たちは始めに彼女にそういう感情があるからこそ、ジェミソンよりも多くアウトリーチの機会が与えられる でしょうと彼女に伝えました。ジェミソンは日本文化をすでによく知っていて、彼らはツインシティーでの日本人ミニストリーに参加していました。彼らはミニ ストリーに関わっていた帰国する日本人学生たちを私たちに繋げてくれました。彼らの日本人へのミニストリーに対する熱意は明らかでした。さらに、他の人々 が日本での宣教を考えるために、この夏ベツレヘム教会からCBIにビジョンチームを送ることに協力してくれました。彼らが日本で私たちと共に働くまでに は、あと1回のコロラドへの旅と金銭的サポートを少し集めるだけでした。2週間前にはワールドベンチャーと出発の合意の連絡をしたところでした。チームの スタッフは先週ジェミソンに日本で住む場所に関するメールを送ったところでした。私たちはパルズ家がCBIで長期ミニストリーに携わるために、準備万全で した。

It was providential that Mike Tong, one of the pastors from Bethlehem, even thought to call. We only met one month ago when he was with the vision trip. He knew the Pals well from Bethlehem. We spent a while talking about them when he was here, and he was kind enough to call us with the tragic news. I had just stopped off for a lunch with my family, but walked outside to see what was so urgent from Mike. He then told me that the entire Pals family had been killed in a rear end collision on Sunday, on their way to Colorado. I fell to the ground in disbelief and horror. Jamison, Kathryne, Ezra, Violet, and Calvin — all gone from this world.

ベ ツレヘム教会の牧師の一人であるマイク・トングが訃報の連絡をくれたことは、ある意味で神の導きのように感じました。彼とは一ヶ月前にビジョントリップを 通して出会ったばかりでした。彼はパルズ家のことをベツレヘム教会を通じてよく知っていました。パルズ家について長い時間話をしました。彼は親切にも訃報 を私に知らせてくれました。訃報の連絡があったとき、私は家族とお昼を食べるところでしたが、マイクからの緊急の連絡が何なのかと思い、外に出たところで した。彼はパルズ家全員が日曜日、コロラドに向かう途中後方追突事故によって亡くなったことを教えてくれました。倒れこんでしまうほど信じ難く、恐ろしさ を感じました。ジェミソン、キャサリン、エズラ、バイオレット、カルバンがこの世から消え去ってしまったのです。

This loss is still very fresh and our team is weeping and praying for the families and friends of this precious family. We are so thankful for the ways we have already seen Bethlehem Baptist Church swift to love them well. Below is part of a post I wrote to update our team and to begin to process this hard providence. I share it here as a tribute to this family and their unwasted lives.

彼 らを失ったばかりで、私たちのチームは悲しみの中にあり、この素敵な一家の家族、友人のために祈っています。さらに、ベツレヘムバプテスト教会が残された 家族や友人たちのために愛を示してくださったことに感謝しています。下記は私が書いた今回の訃報の神意に関するチームへのアップデートの一部です。この家 族のため、彼らの無駄でなかった人生のためにこれを分かち合いたいと思います。

A Surprising Thing? Worth the Effort to Find out

驚くべきこと?努力してでも見つける価値があるもの。

I know you all did not know the Pals family well, but we feel the loss just the same. If you’d like to continue get to know them and their precious heart for the Japanese people a little better, you can visit their blog. Jamison was a gifted writer and these posts remind us that their calling was no accident and God was with them every step of the way. They have gladly laid down their lives for the Japanese people.

み なさんは、パルズ家のことをまだよく知らなかったかもしれませんが、彼らを失ったことについて、私たちと同じように感じていることは確かでしょう。ぜひ彼 らのブログを読んで、彼らの日本への思いを知ってくださればと思います。ジェミソンは書くことに長けていて、ブログを読んでいると彼らの使命は偶然でな く、神様がすべてのステップにおいてともに歩んでおられたことがわかります。彼らは喜びとともに、日本人のために人生を捧げました。

John Piper was a major influence in their call to missions (as was Michael Oh), and this story from Don’t Waste Your Life came to mind almost immediately after hearing the news. I share it with you now as a reminder of the glorious calling we all share to serve the Japanese people as ministers of the Gospel:

ジョ ン・パイパーは彼らの宣教に大きな影響を与えました(マイケル・オーと同じく)。訃報を聞いた直後、彼の著書である「無駄でなかったと言える生き方」にあ る、あるストーリーを思い出しました。日本人への福音の働き人として、栄光の使命に召されている私たちへ今与えられているストーリーだと思います。

In April 2000, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards were killed in Cameroon, West Africa. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. (Editor’s note:  Ruby was also a relative of Rick Pals’ uncle, Norris Magnuson.  Also in this accident and surviving with severe injuries, was Patricia Magnuson from Circle Pines, Minnesota, wife of Rev. Linden Magnuson [one of Jamison’s first pastors and Uncle Norris’ brother.) Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon. The brakes failed, the car went over a cliff, and they were both killed instantly. I asked my congregation: Was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great passion, namely, to be spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ…No, that is not a tragedy. That is a glory. These lives were not wasted. And these lives were not lost. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)

2000 月、ルビー・エリアソンとローラ・エドワーズは西アフリカ、カメルーンで殺されました。ルビーは80歳を過ぎていていました。生涯独身で過ごし、その 人生を唯一の素晴らしいことにささげました。それはイエスキリストを、まだ伝えられておらず、貧困で、病気に苦しむ人々に伝えることでした。ローラは未亡 人で、医者であり、80歳で、ルビーとともにカメルーンで奉仕をしていました。車のブレーキが壊れ、車は崖を落ちていき、彼女らは即死でした。私は教会の 人々に聞きました。これは悲劇なのかと。一つの情熱によって導かれた、すなわち、イエスキリストの栄光のために捧げられた、途方もなく貧しい人々への無名 人の人生。。。これは悲劇ではありません。これは栄光です。彼女らの人生は無駄ではなかったのです。そして、彼女らの人生は失われたのではないので す。「いのちを救おと思ものはそれを失い、わたしと福音とのためにいのちを失者はそれを救のです」マルコの福音8:35

My heart breaks for the experiences we will miss together. Their family planned to focus on studying Japanese while serving with the Heart & Soul Cafe with a long term goal of helping with church planting in Japan. Jamison had a background in grant writing and was excited to help me with fundraising; he had already shared several opportunities to help us. Kathryne’s greatest desire was to be a mom, and she was encouraged by ministries like Baby English and looked forward to building relationships with other young moms. More than anything, they wanted to share the Gospel with new Japanese friends. They had already built relationships with many Japanese in the Minneapolis area and had helped connect some of them to Heart & Soul Cafe. They loved the vision of CBI and Jamison often asked how he could pray for us, even when he was needing help with their application process. They were excited about the development of the Church Planting Center and hoped to serve with a new Japanese church plant in the future.

彼 らとともに経験するはずだったことが叶わないという事実に、私の胸は張り裂けそうになります。彼らは日本語の勉強しながら、ハート&ソウルカフェで奉仕を し、長期的には日本で教会開拓を助ける予定でした。ジェミソンはサポートレイズの働きにも協力的で、すでに何度か手伝ってくれていました。キャサリンが最 も望んでいたことは、母親として、ベビーイングリッシュなどのミニストリーを通して若い母親たちと関わりを持つことを楽しみにしていました。そして何より も、彼らは日本で福音を宣べ伝えることを望んでいました。すでに彼らはミネアポリスに住む多くの日本人と交流を持っており、ハート&ソウルカフェに繋げて くださったこともありました。CBIのビジョンに同感し、ジェミソンは宣教師の準備期間にも関わらず、私たちのために祈れることはないかと時折聞いてくれ ていました。また、彼らは教会開拓センターを建て上げることを楽しみにしていて、日本で新しい教会開拓に携わることを願っていました。

Yasuyo san and I were just emailing with Jamison last week about where they would live. They had hoped to be here this past Spring, but decided to delay with the birth of their third child, Calvin, and support raising delays. They were almost fully funded and they were on their way to MTI for their last training before coming to Japan in October. This news is shocking and sad, but we know that it is part of God’s good plan.

先 週、やすよさんと私はジェミソンにどこに住むかについてメールをしたところでした。彼らは今年の春に来日することを希望していましたが、3人目のこどもの カルバンが生まれたことや、サポートが十分でなかったことを理由に来日を遅らせていました。今サポートはほぼ十分となり、10月に日本に来る前の最後のト レーニングのためにMTIに向かっていたところでした。この訃報はとてもショックで悲しいです。しかし、私たちはこの事故が、神様の良い計画の一部である ことを知っています。

Jamison wrote back in March about the first real resistance they experienced in trying to come to Japan. They had some health battles, hit a lull in support raising, and began to wrestle with discouragement (can anyone relate?!). Jamison reflected on Ephesians 6:10–19 and shared this reminder:

For the first time, it feels as though something or someone is actively setting itself against us going to Japan. Strangely enough, I find that incredibly encouraging. I take it as a sign that we’re headed in the right direction.

ジェ ミソンは今年の3月に、日本に宣教師として来ることに初めて抵抗を感じたと書いていました。その時彼らには健康上の問題があり、サポートレイズがなかなか うまく進まず、挫折感と戦い始めていました(共感できる方もいらっしゃるはずです)。ジェミソンはエペソ6:10–19に注目し、このように綴っていま す:

初めて何かが、あるいは誰かが私たちを日本へ向かわせることを妨げているよに感じている。しかし、信じられないことだが、むしろそれに励まされている。これが、私たちが正しい道へ向かっている印だと思

They were indeed headed in the right direction, and this is all a part of God’s sovereign plan. The resistance for the Pals family is over. They have fought the good fight, they have finished the race, they kept the faith. They now wait for that Day when they will enjoy the crown of righteousness laid up for them, a reward they will enjoy with our team and all the Japanese who have loved his appearing (2 Tim 4:7–8).

彼 らは確かに、すべて神の主権なる計画のうちに、正しい道へと進んでいました。パルズ家が感じていた抵抗はもうありません。彼らは勇敢に戦い、走るべき道の りを走り終え、信仰を守りました。 彼らは、義の栄冠を授けられるその日を今待っています。主の現れを慕っている私たちチームとすべての日本人たちとともに、その報いを喜び楽しむことでしょ う(第二テモテ4:7−8)。

So what now, brothers and sisters? We know that could have been any of our families. And the loss to our team is real, we will never have the honor to serve together in Japan. This news can be like a stomach punch to our faith. What now?

主 にある兄弟姉妹のみなさん、今何をすべきなのでしょうか?このことは、私たちチームのどの家族にも起こりえたことです。彼らを失ったことは現実で、彼らと ともに日本で仕えることはもうありません。この訃報は私たちの信仰に強い衝撃を与えました。今何をすべきなのでしょうか?

God’s word speaks to us in our time of need. Now we fight, not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). Now we race, running with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1). And now we keep on keeping on, not losing heart, for we have this ministry by the mercy of God. (2 Cor 4:1). As we mourn with the friends and family of the Pals, we do not lose hope, but rather gain inspiration. For the love of Christ controls us and we are ambassadors of Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore the Japanese people on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:14, 20). May this news be no tragedy for us. May God raise up a hundred to take their place. May we gain fresh energy and zeal for making disciples in Japan. We may see little fruit from our efforts but, to quote Jamison once more, “who knows, perhaps the Lord will do a surprising thing in our lifetime? It will be worth the effort to find out.”

神 の御言葉は、必要なときに私たちに語りかけてくださいます。今私たちは血肉に対して格闘しているのではなく、主権、力、この暗闇の世界の支配者たち、ま た、天にいるもろもろの悪霊に対して格闘しています(エペソ6:12)。今私たちは、私たちの前に置かれている競走を忍耐をもって走り続けています(ヘブ ル12:1)。そして、私たちは、あわれみを受けてこの務めに任じられているのですから、勇気を失うことなく、続けていきます(第二コリント4:1)。パ ルズ家のご友人やご家族とともに悲しむ中、私たちは希望を失わず、むしろ聖霊の働きを覚えます。キリストの愛が私たちを支配しており、私たちはキリストの 使節であるので、神は私たちを通して訴えておられます。私たちはキリストに代わって、日本の人々に願います。神の和解を受け入れなさい(第二コリント 5:14、20)。この訃報がただの悲劇で終わることがありませんように。神がパルズ家の代わりに多くの人々を立ち上がらせてくださいますように。私たち が日本で弟子をさらに作るための新たな力と熱心さを得ることができますように。私たちは私たちの努力の実をほとんど見ることができないかもしれませんが、 ジェミソンはこのように言っています。「主が私たちの人生において驚くべきことをなさると誰が知っているだろう?それは努力してでも見つけ出す価値がある ものだ。」

Come, Lord Jesus!

主イエスよ、来てください。

Taken from: https://medium.com/@brettrayl/a-surprising-thing-in-our-lifetime-a-eulogy-for-the-pals-family-fadd45270ad3

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Home with the Lord

Home with the Lord

On July 31, 2016 Jamison, Kathryne, Ezra, Violet and Calvin were traveling to their final training session in Colorado, prior to their long-term deployment to be global partners with Christ Bible Institute in Nagoya, Japan. (See article in Omaha World Herald.)  On a long stretch of highway in Nebraska, while stopped in a construction zone, a semi truck rear-ended them at over 60 miles per hour.  The van Jamison’s family was in, as well as the truck, burst into flames and was slammed into several other vehicles.  The entire Pals family went into eternity together.

We deeply love them, and will sorely miss them. We weep and mourn and ache together. Pastor Jason Meyer writes, “Some look at death and see a tragedy—the tragic end of all their hopes and dreams. As Christians, we look death in the face and see ultimate victory, not tragedy, because Jesus defeated sin and death for all of his people. Facing death without Jesus is an eternal tragedy—weeping that never ends.

“And so, while we grieve, we rise up with resurrection faith as we embrace together our blessed hope that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And so, we celebrate the fact that the Pals family is not dead, but more alive than ever because of the grace of God that is ours in Jesus Christ.”

The Jamison and Kathryne Pals Foundation has been established to spread the Gospel of Joy through Jesus Christ to Japan and beyond.  Donations may be sent to the Pals Foundation at 3570 Vicksburg Ln N, Ste 100, Plymouth, MN 55447.  palsfamilyfound.org.  

To view the memorial celebration of their lives at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, click below.

To hear Dr. John Piper’s funeral prayer, visit:

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/john-piper-s-funeral-prayer-for-a-family-of-five

An update on our children

An update on our children

We’ve spent the last couple posts sharing about our burden and vision for ministry in Japan.  Going forward, we plan to focus primarily (though not exclusively) on what’s happening in our family, starting with an update on our children.

Calvin.  Our little guy is quickly becoming not little–he’s already well over 14 pounds.  He loves to eat, smile and baby talk.  He’s probably our toughest baby yet, having survived the loving onslaught of his older brother and sister for over two months now.

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“I’ll go; send me.”
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A boy and his Momma…yet sinners.

Violet.  Her middle name is Joy, and that is fitting.  She is a happy soon-to-be two year old who loves babies and always wants to “go to Caribou (Coffee) tomorrow.”  She can normally be found talking on your cell phone with her Grandpa and Grandma or putting your chapstick on her babies.

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Violet went on a rare date with Momma to a beautiful garden by the lake.
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A near-perfect glimpse into Violet’s personality.
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Two of Violet’s favorite babies.

Ezra.  When Ezra grows up, he still wants to be a worker guy, and we think he will be a good one.  He has greatly enjoyed living in the Land of 10,000 Cousins (Papa and Nana’s house), where legos abound and naps are few.  He is learning to swim and can hold his breath underwater for 14 seconds.  Ezra understands well that we’re moving to Japan soon, though he wants to know if it’s a short or long drive from Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

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Fun at the beach.
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Ezra meeting a cow for the first time.  The cow was afraid.
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Ezra brings every night to a close with 1) family worship, 2) reading two books while eating apple slices and 3) story/snuggle time.
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When the front yard turned into a puddle, Ezra knew what to do.  Violet learned quickly from her big brother.
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When streams of water flow from your boots…

Unreached and how we reach them

Unreached and how we reach them

In our last post, we shared why we feel burdened for unreached people groups.  More specifically, we feel a burden for Japan, the largest unreached nation in the world.  People are surprised to hear of the gospel needs in Japan.  In some circles, the work of missions has become synonymous with humanitarian work.  The popular picture of a missionary is someone who runs an orphanage, does community health, digs wells or comes into a country after a disaster strikes.  Japan is a well developed country, so why would they need missionaries?  That question is why we wrote our last post, and why we’ll continue writing this one.

We are not against humanitarian work.  I (Jamison) am of the belief that–in a shrinking world–wisely and generously caring for the global poor is one way to fulfill the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  I simply want to point out that many of the good humanitarian activities that Christian missionaries take part in are not the distinguishing activities of Christian missions.  Non-Christians can do them and are doing them just as well, in some cases better.

The thing that makes Christian missions unique is Jesus Christ.  The work of Christian missions is making him known in places and among people where he is not yet known; worshipped where he isn’t yet worshipped; obeyed where he isn’t yet obeyed; loved where he isn’t yet loved.  In other words, missions is the work of “mak[ing] disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And, behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is nothing new.  The people of God have affirmed it since the Great Commission was issued some 2,000 years ago.  But, from time to time, history shows that we’re prone to forget, to lose sight of the work Jesus Christ has left to his people until the end of the age.

Let me be clear–we are not writing to lament the current state of missions.  We have total confidence in God that he will accomplish his work in this world, among all the peoples of the earth, as I recently shared in a sermon. We have a secure promise that the Lord himself will gather worshippers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  He will build his Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  The Lord has burdened himself with the work of rescuing sinners from the far corners of the earth.  He will do it; he is doing it even now.

God himself is the One who reaches the unreached, making the logic of passages like Romans 10:13-15a striking, “‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”

In his wisdom, the Lord has chosen to carry out the work of reaching the unreached and discipling the nations, through those who go to preach and those who send them to do so.  The logic is inescapable.  The Lord has commissioned the work, promised to complete the work himself and then said he will do it as the gospel is proclaimed from by weak and frail people like us, who are sent by people like you.  That is how God has said he will reach the unreached.

He has also said much more.  To quote from PT O’Brien’s Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul, “Proclaiming the gospel meant…not simply an initial preaching or with it the reaping of converts; it also included a whole range of nurturing and strengthening activities, which led to the firm establishment of congregations” (pg. 43).  The activities of distinctly Christian missions are aimed toward the establishment of local congregations, not simply making converts.  Coming to Christ means being incorporated into his Body and its local expressions.

To go back to what we’ve already asserted, the thing that makes Christian missions unique is Jesus Christ.  And, Jesus Christ manifests himself to the world through his people.  Therefore, we aim to reach the unreached by establishing local, visible expressions of Jesus Christ.

In this age, the Church is imperfect, to say the least.  We are not blind to her shortcomings.  Yet, we dare not downplay her beauty either.  The Church is, after all, the Bride of Christ.  Wisdom would tell us to think twice before insulting a man’s wife.  The Lord did not consider himself above dying for the Church; he does not now count himself above dwelling in her midst and working through her.  If you care about people knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ, you should care about the work of establishing churches among the nations.

And, if you care about the poor, needy and destitute of the world, you should care about church planting.  Where else can people go to find Jesus Christ–the one who is full of mercy, who healed the sick, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, drove out demons and defeated death?  No one loves the poor like Jesus loves the poor; no one has the power to help them like Jesus does.  He is the One both the rich and poor alike need more than anything else.  And, Jesus Christ has chosen to dwell in the midst of his people in a unique way and to carry on his work for this world through them.  Church planting, then, is a work of compassion–the ultimate humanitarian work–through which people come to be loved and cared for by their Savior.

We desire to see the country of Japan filled with healthy, outward-facing, Christ-exalting churches–manifestations of Jesus Christ, where the millions of Japanese people with depression can take refuge; where the one million young men who have locked themselves in their rooms can find freedom from shame; where the 30,000 who would commit suicide every year can instead find hope.

If you have the same desires, you can learn more about the ministries we will be supporting at Christ Bible Institute here.  And, you can learn more about partnering with us in the work here.

Unreached and why we care

Unreached and why we care

When people are really passionate about something, they don’t generally keep it to themselves.  Sports fans wear jerseys.  People put bumper stickers on their cars.  Others bring up politics wherever they go–birthday parties, weddings, funerals, etc.  Social media exists, and the masses use it.  Clearly, human beings are wired to express our love for the things we love.  Some more so than others.  As C.S. Lewis pointed out, our praise completes our joy–we haven’t fully enjoyed something until we’ve told others about it and have invited them into it.  There are exceptions, of course, but the majority of the time we want others to care about the things we care about.  And, though we’re reluctant to admit it, we’re saddened (or outraged) when they don’t.

How much more is this true when the thing we care about is not only a passing interest, but an essential reality to our very existence–something that if it were taken away from us, we would cease to be who we truly are.  So it is with Christians and Jesus Christ.  We exist “in Christ.”  If you were to somehow remove him, all that we are would go with him.  He is our Life.  Apart from him we can do nothing, and we are nothing.  When a person comes to know Jesus Christ in all of his beauty, love, compassion, wisdom, power and glory, it should come as no surprise that he or she would desire others to know him and to be burdened when others don’t.  We want others to have Life in Christ, forever.

An illustration.  This is an old, sad and true story from my previous work.

There were two children living in a secluded village in Sub-Saharan Africa, a boy who was about five years old and a girl who was two years old, if I’m remembering correctly.  Like many children in their area, they did not know their father and depended solely upon their mother, who was sick with HIV/AIDS.  When she died, they were left without anyone to care for them.  The five year old boy, now the caretaker, led his sister from house to house, looking for food.  After several weeks, the children–who were already malnourished while their mother was alive–looked as though they wouldn’t live much longer.  A woman from the village told them that they needed to go to an orphanage in a nearby town–it would be the only place where they could find food.

The pastor who ran the orphanage already had too many children to house and feed.  So, when the two newly orphaned children arrived, he regrettably turned them away.  An older orphan saw the little boy and girl turning back and begged the pastor to let him share his own food.  The boy set out to find them, but they were already gone.  The pastor, feeling guilty for having turned them away, went out to search.  He, too, was unsuccessful and for several days was weighed down by grief.  Two weeks later, he saw something lying in a ditch.  He bent down, picked up a lifeless body and saw the face of the two year old girl he had turned away.  She tragically, but not surprisingly, starved to death.  The pastor never found her older brother.

Now, I like to think every single one of us, if given the opportunity, would do whatever we could to give those two kids food.  The thought that there are children in the world who are starving to death is emotionally unbearable for anyone who is willing to actually consider it.  But, it is a reality.  On average, somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 children under the age of five die every day from hunger-related causes.

Though most people do not have the same emotional response, it is equally true and eternally more tragic that there are–according to conservative estimates–two billion people who will never have the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  The context of John 6 makes it clear–Jesus does for the human soul what food does for the human body.  As surely as food is needed for life, so Jesus is needed for eternal life.  People will eat and eat and eventually die.  But, if people eat the Bread of Life, they will live forever.  It is good to share food with the hungry; how much greater is it to share Jesus Christ.

The above story about the two children in Africa is an illustration of a spiritual reality for over two billion people in the world today.  They could go door-to-door looking for Bread that gives life and is Life, and they will not find it.  They will starve, unless someone goes to offer them Food.  We have the opportunity to do just that.  We have what they need, whether they know they need him or not.  His name is Jesus Christ.  We love him.  He is everything to us.  It is only natural that we want others to forever share in everything that we have in him.  That’s why we care deeply about unreached people groups, and that’s why we will, Lord willing, go.

Click Here to learn more about how you could help send us.  And, Click Here to read more about our burden for the unreached in Japan.

 

Calvin’s Early Days

Calvin’s Early Days

On May 21st, Calvin Boaz Pals came forth into the world.  He bears the name of a Reformer (John Calvin) and a Kinsman Redeemer (Boaz, from the book of Ruth).  We thank God for this little boy and the early days we’ve had with him!  May the Lord give many more days, and may they be joyful in Christ, fruitful for His Kingdom and eternal in duration.

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With a birth weight of 9 lbs, 8 oz, Calvin has no lack of chubby wrinkles, to the joy of his father.

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His biceps are a distinguishing feature.
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Ezra meeting Calvin for the first time.
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The first of many snuggles.
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A new part of our morning routine.
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“I wish he would wake up.”
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In honor of Calvin’s birth, I’ve picked up reading The Institutes of the Christian Religion again.  Here is the boy’s introduction to his name’s sake.
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Please pray with us for Calvin!

Father in Heaven,

You are our Maker and Sustainer.  There is none like you, no one who can do the works that you do.  We are in awe of how you create and sustain every life, from the tiniest embryo to the mightiest man.  There is no one who can draw breath without your willful action, no one who can keep his own heart beating, unless you do it for him.  So, it is fitting that we entrust Calvin to you.  It is our joy to do so, because we know you!  You are a God who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  You will not deal wrongly with our boy.

Work within Calvin that which is pleasing in your sight.  May he grow strong in body and mind, only to be exceeded by the strength of his heart–You, Lord–be the strength of his heart and his portion forever!  As he increases in years, may he increase in meekness and experience the fullness of its blessedness in Christ.  As he tastes the sweet joys of life in this world, may he see them as gifts from your hand and receive them with humility.  When he drinks of the bitter cup of pain that all must taste, may he learn to quickly cry to you for help and seek to right any wrongs.

May he be a man who knows well his own sin but does not despair, because he has a great Savior.  O Lord, may the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, be sweet to our boy from a young age.  May he find redemption  in Jesus’ passion, forgiveness in His cross, purification in His blood, newness of life in His resurrection, a rich inheritance in His Kingdom, fellowship in His Body, security in the sealing of His Spirit and great hope in the promise of eternal life.  May he draw a fully supply from the treasure of blessings that are found in Jesus Christ, always.  Do this and more for our son, that the glory of your Son might shine brightly through him in Japan.

We ask this with great confidence in Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are still in need of financial and prayer partners.  If you are interested in partnering with us and helping send Calvin to Japan, please visit the Partner with Us page to read an update on our current needs.

 

 

Connor and Preston’s Treat Stand

Connor and Preston’s Treat Stand

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” -Philippians 1:3-5.

We’re in a season of what most people call “support raising.”  We prefer to call it “partner development,” because it more accurately captures the reality that our ministry in Japan requires the participation of friends and family around the world.  You are our partners in the Gospel.  When you give, pray and support in practical ways, you’re entering into the work of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in Japan.  Our role in the work is going; your role in the same work is sending.  For this reason, we–like the Apostle Paul–thank God for you, every time we remember you in prayer.

We were recently blessed by the creative sending efforts of two of our nephews, Connor and Preston.  On Saturday, they put together an excellent treat stand, donating 50% of their revenue to the work in Japan.  After taking a two-dollar order, Preston said, “One dollar for me; one dollar for Jamison and Kathryne.”  Praise God–that’s a beautiful picture of what many of you are doing for us…and for the joy of the Japanese people in Jesus Christ.

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Saturday morning was cold, so Connor and Preston served coffee and hot chocolate.
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We’re grateful for the support and for spreading the word to neighbors.

 

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A good spread and art-work.
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The salesman.
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Great customer service.
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The treat stand was a creative way to meet and serve neighbors, while also being a part of the work we’ll be doing in Japan.  

Thank you, Connor and Preston (and parents + Gavin).  And, thank you to everyone else who is partnering with us.  We know that you’re also working diligently and creatively to help send us to Japan, and we pray that “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”-Philippians 4:19.

Please click here if you are interested in joining with us in ministry.