While March here marks the end of the Japanese school year, April represents new beginnings – new school years, new jobs and most exciting, cherry blossoms! It’s like Easter on a tree. But it’s the endings, the “deaths” before the life that have been weighing on us recently.
We were hiking last week with 4 students from our church youth group along with 2 other volunteers from the church when I realized that in just two months every person in our group (outside of our family) will be living in the States for at least a few months (others are permanently moving). Fast on the heels of that realization came grief, and fast on the heels of the grief came fear: Have we prepared them well for what comes next? Where will our new students come from? Are we going to have to start all over? Maybe we should switch gears and spend more time with college students? Or somewhere else altogether? I think of the disciples’ grief that first Good Friday after loosing their friends, and I consider how it too must have been mixed with feelings of abandonment and fear of the future.
Just when we align ourselves with a particular ministry and think this is where God wants us to dig in, it feels like the bottom falls out. I (Riva) have now had two Bible studies which have ended because my friends left to study abroad. Both were close to understanding the gospel, but neither made a profession of faith and it’s really hard to see them go like that. Our youth group started three years ago with 3 girls, but not one of them still lives here. So we’ve been spending time with students from the local international school, looking for ways to invest in the next gen. And we’ve been making progress! But one of the kids Brooks was really enjoying getting to know moved away last week, and there are rumors of others. Some of our college students recently graduated and moved to start new jobs, including one of Brooks’s best friends and ministry partners. In fact, tomorrow brings more college graduations, and on Saturday a new group of seminary students will fly the nest. All of that makes us feel on a large scale like we’re not making any impact, and on a practical level like we’re not sure what to do next. Confused disciples with no direction.
Maybe you’re experiencing loss or disappointment as well, uncertainty about the future or confusion of calling.
It’s in times like these that need to return to the Word of God together to remember the promises of our Savior. We need to return to passages like Isaiah 55:11 which reminds us that God’s Word is working even when we don’t see the effects, to truths like Proverbs 16:9 that shift our clamoring hearts from desperate planning and preparation to quiet faith and prayer, and to places like Matthew 28:18-20, where the resurrected Christ promises that his own power and presence will attend our ministry. We are not alone, but we need you to pray these passages over us daily for the times when we forget, for the times we feel uncertain, for the times we’re tempted to grieve without remembering the hope we have. YOU are the conduit of God’s ministry to us. YOUR emails and offerings are mirrors of His love. Thank you for ministering with us. But thank you most of all for ministering and TO us! May we all experience new life with Jesus in this new resurrection season. Happy Easter!