Share The Love – Tokyo Day 2

It was an interesting day, to say the least. We started the day with a trip to the largest Buddhist temple in Japan, the Asakusa Temple. It’s a place guarded by temple deities (large scary statues). The roof of the temple has a black dragon painted on it. We arrived in time to see a ceremony going on much the same as the ceremony I got on video last year. I managed to get back into the back before hand, so I was in a great spot. Monks came out and kept the rest of our team from coming back where I was. I read Scriptures out loud during the ceremony. Not in a disruptive way, but in a way that made sure the Word was spoken. Lindsey did the same, as did most of our team. We covered the temple in prayer and Scripture, asking God to bring Truth and Life to the people of Japan. As I read, God brought to mind Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” I knew that He was going to take His Word and do something special with it. And when He brought that to my mind, He also led me to leave my Bible there in the back where the Buddhist monks were walking back and forth. So, I left my Bible there knowing that God intends for someone to pick it up.

The temple is a very dark place, shrouded in a dreadful feeling of hopelessness as people try to manipulate fate through piety to gain a better future for themselves, resembling the same thing people do in America even though it looks MUCH different in practice. In theory, many try to manipulate God or fate to provide themselves hope and a future. As I stood in the temple and read Judges 2, I was reminded in that passage of a truth for us: ” “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did.” So my prayer become that the Japanese people would allow God to change their hearts and turn them to Him. Prayer is a beginning place, but the bottom line is that without a change of heart, people don’t come to faith. And until they come to faith, they have no hope and no future. Join us in praying for them.

From the temple, we made it to a Turkish restaurant that does KaBobs and Doners. I had a beef doner AND most of Lindsey’s chicken doner! They are thinly sliced meat & pita pockets with lettuce, tomato, and a spicy dressing Good stuff.

After lunch, the teams dispersed to our train stations for 5 Minute English. Kaitlyn and I are on the same team, along with 6 others from Paramount. We took up our spot at the Musashi-Koganei station and started 2 hours of sharing with anyone who would listen. We had some good conversations. I handed out 5 “comic book” Bibles, called Manga. Kaitlyn handed some out, too. We shared with all ages and kinds of people. Kaitlyn’s highlight was one specific conversation she had. Here’s her version of the story:

Kaitlyn: “My coolest part of the day was getting to talk to a businessman. It was near the end of the day and we were packing up. There was a businessman walking down the other side of the sidewalk. I smiled at him and asked if he wanted to practice English with me. I didn’t expect him to come over, but he did. He came over and asked me what I was doing. I told him if he wanted to he could practice his English with me. We started talking, and I gave him a Hope Tract. He asked me what hope was and why we chose that word for the tract. I told him Jesus is the hope, and He gives us hope because He died for us. He responded in awe. We wrapped up our conversation with me giving him a Gospel of John book and he said he would read it! It was a God-thing! I was shocked that he talked with me, but afterward, I was excited that he would read the Gospel of John.”

Be praying for the man Kaitlyn shared with, and with all the people who got Bibles from us today. Pray for many to be saved through what was shared with them.

Another team member made a new friend today that I will tell you more about later. But be praying. God knows the details, and we will share more in person when we get home.

I’m sure that the others have stories to tell, but they are already asleep! It was a LONG day. Tomorrow will be even more so. We will travel for an hour and a half to a park to gather with other believers to worship. Then, after lunch, we will do park evangelism, playing American football, Frisbee, face-painting, and hopefully more connections and conversations with new friends. Be praying for us as we will do A LOT of walking and A LOT of connecting!

Thanks for your continued prayer for us. Amazing things are happening! I’ll try to get the Mackenzie, Machenzee, and Mario stories for tomorrow!


Tokyo – Day 1

I’m sitting above Shibuya’s famous train station/intersection, sipping on a Starbuck’s Americano as I watch 1,000’s of people 20′ below me pass through the busiest intersection in the world. If I remember right, over 1,000,000 people pass through here each day. I’m a little jet lagged AND I miss my family, but God reminds me that these feeling are temporary. He reminds me that the people I am watching have a condition that is much more dire.
Although its my second time to visit Tokyo, this is a much different trip than the first. During my first trip, my primary responsibility was to disciple/teach students on church planting and relationship evangelism. I was an equipper for the ones on the front line. This trip, I’m on the front line, doing connection point relationship building and evangelism in neighborhoods, train stations, and parks. During the first trip, there were 100 students and several sponsors. This trip, there’s 26 of us, including 7 adults. 6 of the students here are from THF.
The sea of lostness that stretches out before me is overwhelming. I mean, Tokyo is an overwhelming place anyway, with a population equivalent to the entire State of California, it’s a tight fit to get all 35 million people into a city roughly the size of Metro Houston! It’s very easy to be overwhelmed by the city itself. The thing that strikes me most, though, and evokes the deepest sense of urgency, is to look people in the eye as they walk by knowing that most of them have never even heard of Jesus. Less than 1% of the population here is Christian. My constant prayer today has been that God would change that. I’m praying that the people here would become acutely aware of the predicament and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. I’m asking you to join me in that prayer as well.
As I watched my students today, it occurred to me how simple it is to share our faith with people. Start a conversation and share when you can. Pretty Simple. But, you know, it’s the same at home! Why don’t we do that at home? Why don’t we share more, share often overwhelmed by the human condition and need for Jesus? Why don’t we have a sense of urgency because time is short? Why don’t we feel drive to reach our friends and family like we’re driven to reach the nations?
There’s probably not a decent answer to these questions, except to say, we ought to be. We ought to be.

Parents of our kiddos: your kids did GREAT today! They are engaging people, sharing their faith, prayer walking, and making a kingdom difference. I already see that you will be getting a different student home than the one you sent on this trip. Thanks for praying!

Here’s a heads-up for tomorrow (later this evening for y’all), we will be prayer walking the largest Shinto/Buddhist temple in Japan in just over 12 hours. Pray with us. Pray for God’s Spirit to go before us and to give us opportunity to share as light in the darkness. It’s a moving experience that I believe will change your student FOREVER.


Yo May Yo

Yo May Yo? That’s Chinese for “have or don’t have.” That’s the thought that came to mind this morning as I contemplated this statement from Francis Chan: “if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that it is not true the Holy Spirit lives inside us, most likely our lives wouldn’t look much different.”

Asia Is Around The Corner

It’s almost here! In October, my entire family, along with some friends who are as close as family, will be heading back to our city in East Asia. I am excited about my family going with me. It will be all three of them’s first time out of the country. And what a GREAT opportunity for them to be a part of changing the world. I’ve asked them to tell me why they want to go, and here’s their responses:

Jeremiah (my 9 year old son):
“I want to go because I want to share Jesus with some people. I want to see what it’s like there and see what people do. I hope we will reach lots of people and that they will start spreading [The Gospel] with their friends.”

Cayla (my 7 year old daughter):
“All my life I’ve known Jesus wanted me to go. I was 5 years old, I think, when I felt like God told me to go there. I’ve been waiting to go ever since.”

Caryn: “I want to go with y’all for the same reasons you want to go. I want to share the Hope with others that they otherwise wouldn’t know about.”

Have I told you her story? When she was 5 years old, while riding her tricycle in the driveway, God called her to Asia. She came to me sobbing, unable to breath, as if something horrible had happened. After I got her calmed down, she said to me, “I’m gonna miss you and mommy!” and started crying again. When she finally calmed down, she told me she was going to miss us when she is in C**** telling people about Jesus! Not only was it the moment of her calling, but God used it to call me, too. He used her to set things in motion in my life going to East Asia to prepare the way for her to go. And now, 2 years later, she can barely contain herself that she gets to go AND she doesn’t have to say goodbye to us to be able to go!

Here’s where you come in: For our family to go will take around $8k. It’s going to take even more than that in prayer support. If you’d be willing to help with prayer, finances, or however God leads you, would you drop me an e-mail at ? We have to get the ball rolling on Passports this week.

Thanks in advance for helping us follow Cayla’s calling!

Day 5: Encouragement

Today was the kind of day that everyone needs once in a while. We spent the day mostly with people who are like-minded. Our day started with the opportunity to gather with other Americans here in the city who live here for business purposes. This was my third time to gather with them to lift up the name of our Dad in a Sunday gathering. All three times they have asked me to share from The Book for their gathering. It’s a truly humbling experience. It’s like Michael Jordan asking me for basketball advice! I am honored to even know these people, let alone call them my friends. They are the people that The Book would be writing about if it were still being written today. And to possibly think I have anything to offer them is laughable. I am honored and humbled to just be able to sit with them and share a part of our lives. It turns out that I am the one who comes away encouraged. When they gather each week, they share family business success and failures. To listen to them and hear their hearts shames me. As I’ve said before, and will every time I get to meet with them, these are the real heroes of our business. Especially Marcus and Katlyn. They are the youngest on this team, and yet they have such a vibrant and far-reaching impact on their friends and acquaintances. That’s not to say that every team member here isn’t just stinkin’ amazing! But I’m very proud to call Marcus and Katlyn “ours.”

From the gathering we went to lunch at The Sizzling Skillet. I LOVE THAT PLACE! It’s various fried meats and potatoes served on a fajita-style skillet. Mmmm! We shared the noon meal with some Americans here on business, and were encouraged by their work. When I first came to this country, they had only been here a few days, and had no language skills and no connections to the people they need to reach. Now, almost 2 years later, they are carrying on conversations in the native language and have a huge work going on with college students. They are the couple that we will return to encourage and support in October.

After lunch we did just a bit of shopping, then it was off for Karaoke! Here, Karaoke is called KTV (Karaoke Tele-Vision). And it’s different than karaoke in the USA. Here, you rent a private room that is fully equipped for your singing (lights, sound equipment, etc.) and it’s just and your friends that embarrass each other. We sang songs in English and Chinese with our local believing friends, having a GREAT time. I’ll have that video up before long. I left KTV encouraged by the playful nature of the first family members of Marcus and Kat’s business here.

We wrapped up Karaoke JUST in time to meet some friends and attend a tea ceremony. A tea ceremony consists of brewing and tasting various kinds of teas. In our case, it was gua tea and oolong tea. The lady brewing the tea gave us all kinds of fascinating information about tea and it’s brewing during our time together. Apparently there are 21 steps to the perfect cup of tea. And I watched all 21 steps with great fascination. The group we were with was ½ family and ½ almost family. I was able to speak to them as a group and encourage them each to take the necessary steps for their relationships.

The night ended with us doing a broadcast back to the states with a trip update. We connected through Marcus and Kat’s internet and shared some of what we’ve seen here. In listening to the stories, I am encouraged about the business here. As Lindsey and Lissa shared, the people who became like-minded with us last trip have been sharing with their non-like minded friends, which is AWESOME

I’m sure by this point that I am rambling…I am falling asleep as I type, so I’m off! Keep lifting us up. We have some hard conversations tomorrow, and I nearly just smashed my face into the keyboard falling asleep! I’ll send more later!

Day 4: Surprises

Today was not nearly as full of different activities as the other days, and yet I am more exhausted than any other day so far.

When we awoke this morning, the weather was too foul to go out, so we hung out at the hotel and journaled for half an hour. Then we headed out to meet a few of our friends. We had invited 3 or 4 people to go with us to Bi Jia Shan, The Natural Land Bridge. It’s a beautiful place on the coast (JZ is a coastal city) where you can walk to this mountain/island when the tide goes out. You have about 2 hours to get there or you’ll need to rent a boat to get back.

Surprise #1: The size of the group. When we got to the bus station to meet our group, the 3 or 4 had turned into 7, making 11 of us in total. When we got to Bi Jia Shan, and saw that it was 40 RMB ($6.50) per person to get in. Then it’s another 10 RMB ($1.60) per person to get a boat and another 10 RMB ($1.60) per person to climb the mountain. When it’s all said and done, to take this large group to the mountain would have cost $150! So, we decided to go exploring instead. We hiked through someone’s yard and actually made it down to the beach for some breath-taking scenery and fun pictures. As we hiked, we actually made it into the park, but were told by some attendants that we would need to go back out and buy tickets! We opted to head home instead and share a meal.

Surprise #2: The Conversations. During our exploring and our lunch, we had the opportunity to share much with all of the students that came with us. One thing we taught them is how to add “Your Mom” to the end of anything anyone says and make it into a joke! That was a hit! We also got to share things of lasting importance with them. Some of them are people who have already become family to us. Some are considering it. Two of them were friends who became family to us on our last trip here, but had not yet gone swimming in our family’s tradition. We are encouraging them to do that, as well. It seems like times like this always wind down with no one wanting to actually leave. We all just sit, knowing it’s time to go and no one actually leaving. As we left the restaurant we told our friends we would see them again before we leave.

Surprise #3: The Change In Topic. Now, on a trip like this, it feels like we eat, eat, and eat some more. We left lunch to go back to our rooms and get cleaned up so we could meet some other friends for dinner! We ate light and then headed to the home of some friends where we were going to talk about marriage and dating relationships with a group of young adults.. It was supposed to be an hour long meeting, but it went 4 hours! By the time it was done (which was when I began this update) I was exhausted. Instead of talking about relationships, it became a detailed conversation about how to become family and why everyone needs Dad. The topics ranged from the here-after to present help in trouble to how could Dad love everyone and have plans for all of us. It was GREAT conversation. But it took a LOT of active listening. When the evening came to a close, our friends were teetering on the verge of becoming family, making it a very productive night. It would be great if you would spend some time talking to Dad on behalf of these new friends.

Surprise #4: We Are Almost Done. As for us, we are exhausted, but elated. I think our body’s clocks are finally on local time. We hit a groove with what to order at local restaurants, and we have an idea of what we are working towards with our friends. The next part of the trip is the “sweet spot,” so to speak. Unfortunately, tomorrow is our last full day! It seems like it always happens that way. We will make the most of it, though. We have a lot to do in the next 48 – 60 hours! yarP for us!

Day 3: Playing

Our theme for today was “play.” Our great teacher said that unless we become like children, we will not see His kingdom. I think a great part of that is the art of playing.

Our day started at 5:30 a.m. when we began to prepare for our trip to what Lindsey has started calling “Our Park.” It is actually the North Park and part of the zoo, or Dong Wu Yuan. It is the park we adopted last year to speak to Father about every day. During our time here last year, we made friends with many Senior Adults who go to the park to exercise for a couple hours every morning. Their exercise routine consists of Tai Chi, sword forms, and ti jienza (kick feather). We usually walk and talk to Dad during the Tai Chi and sword forms. Then, when our friends are done and start to play ti jienza, we join in. Ti Jienza is like hacky-sack, but with an oversized badminton birdie-like toy. And man can these Senior Adults get after it! They are kicking it behind their head, aiming for their next victim, er, I mean target, and leaping through the air like some graceful dancer choreographing an elaborate and improvised performance. Then we jump in and throw off their groove! They truly are amazing to watch. Last year, not only did I fall in love with this sport, but the outfits that they wear, as well. In fact, the lady that makes their outfits for them actually came to the park, fitted me, and hand made me an outfit. She did have to charge me extra because I am much bigger than the people she usually sews for! Well, this morning was our first time back to the park since our last trip, and the first time for any of them to see my new outfit. When we came into the park, they stopped what they were doing and came over to feel my outfit, say hello, and feel my outfit some more. After that, we walked the park talking to Yesu about our friends and asking Him to reach out to them. Our requests were followed by 2 hours of Ti Jienza, and much coaching from our friends on proper form. It is so nice to be able to lay aside language barriers (none of them speak English) and just be able to play together. For hours we can have this one thing in common; and just play. Our time this morning was cut short when a disagreement happened between the local care taker and one of our friends. We saw that as our sign to bail.

From there we headed to lunch with some friends. One of them is a friend we met last time, and one is a new friend who is learning English for his college degree. We shared a great lunch as we helped our new friend try to grasp the concepts of humor, sarcasm, and English idioms. He was much more confused afterwards than he started out!

After lunch, we caught up with two of our friends from our last trip, Wally and Oscar. These friends met Dad on our last trip, and decided they wanted to be in the family. So our afternoon with them was a sweet time of catching up and encouraging each other in the way of the Master. These two guys speak great English, and have a heart for seeking truth. We spent an hour having instant coffee and sharing life.

They accompanied us to visit with a new member of the family. “Van Gogh” united with our family over the Easter weekend as a result of being involved in a family project on Easter Sunday. Van Gogh had some questions about The Book, and about growing in our family’s traditions. He had some really good questions that we spent a couple of hours answering. Wally and Oscar even jumped in to help us explain some of the answers in Chinese. That was cool! And Van Gogh brought his roommate, Brad, with him. Brad is not yet family, but is considering the truth of The Book, and of Father. All four of them will be traveling with us tomorrow as we go site seeing! We are hoping to help Wally and Oscar grasp more of the family business, and to better understand their roles in the work of the family. We are hoping to connect Brad with Wally and Oscar so that they can mentor him in The Book and in the work of the family. AND, we are hoping Brad will become family. So our big request for Saturday is that Dad will expand the business greatly in this city and in these people.
On my last trip to this country, I had the opportunity to lead a parenting forum where parents got together to compare and contrast parenting in our countries. One of the things that parents here mentioned was that they wished their children knew how to play. With so many people and so few jobs, the best jobs only go to the best students. So, students are pushed from grade school through college to make studying their priority. These parents said they could remember being kids and playing outside until the streetlights came on. This generation of students has never known a life like that. When it comes to a night like tonight, then, students get to experience something rare: a night of playing. We brought Jenga, Ker-Plunk, Uno, Phase 10, Trouble, Sorry, and a couple other games for “Western Game Night.” The students come for the English conversations (all of them can speak English, but need to be better). But they experienced something different. One of our local friends reserves a room on the University campus, and we play and have conversations. And tonight was a great night. The room was PACKED full of students who rotate from game to game, giving them a chance to play many games, but also a chance to meet each of us. I shared pictures of my family, friends, motorcycle, and life in Lubbock. They had many questions! One of them finally said to me, “I think your family is a happy family. Is that true? And why?” And I was able to explain that my family is, indeed, a happy family because of the presence and guidance of my Father, who teaches us to live by loving and serving. It opened a door for me to share with 10 or so students. All in all, it was a GREAT night with many doors opened.

We wrapped up the night with a 1.5 hour massage. In this country, a massage like that costs around $12.50! And it’s different than in America. First, they put all of us in the same room with big screen TV’s, bottles of water, and comfy couches. You remain fully clothed for the massage, which starts with a foot washing. In a barrel of 200 degree water Then, in a systematic manner, the massage giver beats the fool out of you for an hour and a half! It’s like an episode of “I Love Lucy” where they bend you, punch you, pull you, and contort you in ways that make you appreciate the ability to walk afterwards. I’d never had my kidneys massaged before! At one point, the girl working on my back in kneeling on my back, digging her knees into my kidneys while trying to make a wish by ripping my shoulder blades apart. I guess I am getting used to it, though. Tonight’s massage was not as rough as the last one, which did leave me unable to walk!

From there, we headed back to the hotel for 6 hours of sleep before Day 4 begins. Thank you for your tending to our requests and making them your petitions to Dad. You are making a difference in the Far East. Lives are being changed and Father is expanding His business globally. The cool thing is that you get to be a part of it!

Day 2: High Places

Today is the day that is usually spent getting acclimated to the time change and getting familiar with the culture. So, to off set jet lag and to experience the culture, we went for a hike. We went to a local mountain park called Bei PuTuo. It is a beautiful location that seems to have grown around a Buddhist monastery and several shrines. I shot some cool video. While we were there, we hiked up to some of the shrines, which are built on the peaks of mountains. The belief is that these places are closer to the heavens, so you are closer to the spiritual world. In the old part of The Book, Father tells His children to go into the land that He has promised them. But He tells them to “tear down the high places” as they go. At first, it’s just something you read. But once you get here, you see the high places and see people using these high places to try to appease the spirits of their ancestors. They offer fruit, incense, and even burn money at times trying to ensure that their dead ancestors are happy. I’ll post some video of the high places when I get home. But it sure puts The Book into a different light to stand in those very places we are called to tear down. And I had a thought while I was standing there. “What if I did tear it down? What would happen?” I realized that if I physically destroyed this spot, the locals who use it would only rebuild it, and probably rally around the incursion upon their faith. So, instead, I spent time talking to Father about it, and spiritually tearing it down, so to speak. My heart was moved today by the amount of effort and futility that is spent in the pursuit of gods who are sub-par and cannot help you. So, will you join me in talking to Dad about helping wandering brothers and sisters to find Him and His light? I don’t doubt for a minute that the enemy answers the prayers of these seekers in ways that keeps them mired in their false beliefs. Our calling is to tear down the high places, and I think that begins with speaking to Dad about them and the people drawn to them. But it also begs the question, “what are your high places?” What are the things you rely on to get a better life? Before we can tear down the high places in the lives of others, we must first tear down the high places in our own lives. Do you rely on your charm, wit, personality, money, influence, appearance, etc. to build a better life for you? To those that now follow The Way, The Truth, and The Life, our only source of strength and help should be Him. In relying on other things, we are building high places in our lives! Tear them down.

One of the cool things about today was that instead of hiking down, we discovered a zip line that went across the valley and to the parking lot where we parked. SO, I decided I would do the zip line. It was a blast! I was smoking across the top of this valley attached to two cables! But the even more surprising thing is that LINDSEY said she wanted to do it too! AND SHE DID! It was amazing. I’ll post that video at some point, too!

From there, we had 2 amazing meals, some near death experiences in the taxis and bus, and a pretty usual day in this country of over 1 billion people. It’s just a little bit past 10 p.m. here, and I have to be p-walking at our park around 6 a.m. so I’ll end the update here with a request: talk to Dad about the many people we will get to visit with over the next 24 hours. College students all the way up to senior adults, we have many chances to show them all about the family business. So be sure to yarP for us!

Asia Trip, Spring 2009

I realized that I hadn’t posted any of my entries for the Asia trip here. I got them onto my Facebook. So, here is Day 1’s update.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Well, we’ve arrived in the city! We are checked into our hotel, and I am about to bed down for the night. It’s weird having left US soil Tuesday morning (as it feels it’s still Tuesday), but bedding down on Wednesday night. All total, in travel time, we were on the move for 23 hours. Trying to stay awake on the train ride from the capital city to our city was brutal. But we are alive and well. Tomorrow starts early for us. We will join American friends for breakfast, and to video conference back home with family so they can see we are well. If you are family, and would like to visit with us, be at THF at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night! I will be speaking with my students, and afterward, families can say hello. AND, since that is early morning here, I am now off to bed. I’ll update more tomorrow!

An Observation From East Asia

Having just returned from my 3rd trip to Asia, the greatest observation that stands out to me is that The Word is spreading there. One my first trip, I got to be involved in a new convert’s observance of ba9tism, or what we call a swim party. On my next trip, I got to participate in an outreach that was sponsored by that student where we met 35 – 45 students, and out of whom 3 or 4 came to faith. During my 3rd trip, while we were sharing with new students, the ones who came to faith on our last trip helped us share, and had been sharing their faith on their own while we’ve been gone. It was very encouraging to me to see that the kingdom is not just being paid lip service. These new friends take it seriously, and understand that this Good News isn’t just for them. Thanks to students like my friend pictured here (whose face I blurred on purpose!), the Good News is being taught to many.