Today I was given a gift. It was not a present because it was obligatory for my birthday or Christmas. It was a gift because it was what God knew I needed to see, and He let me see it.
This past week has been very full of activities. I have photographed different events and accompanied some of the adventure tours to have records of them. I have also been busy helping Seth, the art director here at NORTHSTAR, creating website icons as well as helping bring the new NORTHSTAR website together. It is really fun work, especially since I know that I am actually using my degree in the real world! I love spending time with people in the office, getting to know them better, talking about music and about dreams. I was talking about this with my Dad and he asked me where the missionary side of this was. After all, I am here on mission with mission support behind me. At first I was stumped. I was wrapped up in the creative process and experiencing Japan for the very first time (is it really necessary to constantly take my shoes off and on?). Thanks to conversations with Seth and Brad, one of the other full time staff here, I have an answer.
NORTHSTAR hosts many camps, some for school groups and others for church groups. The camp that is here this week is from Young Life, a school outreach program intent on sharing the gospel to youth with no church background. It is a difficult field, often with seeds taking a long time to sprout. Of the youth at this camp only one is a Christian. The rest are atheists or come from Buddhist backgrounds. I asked Brad how the camp was going and he said there were several youths who are coming to an understanding of the Gospel and perhaps even close to making a Decision. There will be a campfire tonight where one of the leaders will share his testimony and invite others to the same journey.
The creative part of the answer came from Seth. He explained to me yesterday how churches are not visible to the population of Japan. They need websites and branding in order to distribute their wealth of teaching to those who most desperately need it. Seth has a vision of making that happen. While I am the first step in this process, it might take a long time for this to fully come about. He envisions creative young people from all over working with local churches to bring the churches to the eyes and ears of unbelievers.
This is what NORTHSTAR is about. It is not to keep Christians happy and comfortable. It is to invite those who have never heard of the Gospel into our comfortable rooms, and show them what being a Christ follower really is. It is really easy to lose focus. Between working on the website, cleaning rooms, guiding tours, and serving dinner, we forget why we are here. It is for that handful of Japanese youth whose lives will change drastically, and raise Japan’s 2% to 3%, then 4%. God’s gift today was focus.
Please pray for all of us at NORTHSTAR, to not only do our jobs well, but also to keep focused on what is important. And pray for the campfire tonight (morning for most of you), and for the youth who will listen to the testimony.