After our return from Eastern Europe in 2008, cross-cultural missions began to dominate our conversations. For the first time, Gina and I began to seriously consider whether God was calling our family to go to the mission field. This was a big change from how we'd previously seen our life-calling, so we invited insight from trusted friends. The first place we turned was to our elders at Grace Fellowship. I told them the whole story, assured them that we had not yet reached a decision, and invited them to join us in seeking God's will - both for our family and Grace Fellowship.
|Wayne and Amy Newsome|
As we sought God's face, two things became increasingly clear. First, we grew very secure that God was calling us to leave Asheboro and become cross-cultural church planters. Secondly, we grew confident that God wasn't leading us to work in Eastern Europe. At first, we felt confused, because we'd assumed that if God were calling us to missions, He must want us in Latvia or Lithuania. But slowly, it dawned on us that we were feeling drawn to a particular "job description" rather than a specific place. We felt like our greatest contribution would be made on a field where:
- A team was in place and had already established a healthy, local church.
- The team was ready to plant a 2nd generation of "daughter churches" in the city.
- There was a seminary (or equivalent) to help train future national pastors and leaders.
|Nisshin Christ Church, Nagoya, Japan|
|Christ Bible Institute, Nagoya, Japan|
Since then, we've come to understand our calling in a much fuller way. The Japanese people make up the world's largest unreached people group with less than 0.5% professing faith in Christ. Unlike much of Europe, Japan has never been extensively reached with the Gospel, and missions tend to move very slowly. Over the last decade, the astronomical cost of living combined with slow progress have caused many missions organizations to abandon Japan altogether (a 24% decline in Western missionaries in the 7 years prior to the tsunami). In the meantime, MTW has been adding teams.
So, that's how God called has us to Nagoya. It's not especially dramatic - no bright lights or booming thunder. The experience has been more like the gradual change from darkness to light just before dawn. Through divine providence, the Spirit has slowly and steadily turned on the lights for us and solidified our sense of calling to Japan.
And maybe God - in His providence - is leading you to partner with us in this journey. We believe God has called us to move to Nagoya and plant churches among the world's largest unreached people group, but we can't do that on our own. Our two greatest needs are (1) prayer and (2) financial support (in that order). Right now, God has raised up an army individuals who are praying for us regularly. If you'd like to join that group and receive regular prayer updates, you can register at www.news.grace4japan.com. If you'd like to partner with us financially during our first term, you can communicate that desire by using this form. As of this writing (April 20, 2012), God has already raised up financial partners who have pledged 80% of our budget, and we're prepared to move to the field as soon as the remaining 20% is pledged! Thanks for your prayerful consideration!