The theme verse for the IM Discovery Team (IM Team), Romans 12:10, was “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
About a year ago, Rev. Sandra asked “if it would be possible to do an IM Discovery trip to” Japan. The original IM Team of nine became five people. Our daughter, Naomi, greeted them at Haneda airport, helped them purchase their bullet train tickets, and got them on the bullet train, shinkansen, to Sendai. At the end of April 2023, the IM Team finally arrived in Rifu with team leader, Nicole!
One way of showing devotion is serving. The week of service started with hosting a luncheon for our English Café participants and church members. English Café is an outreach program of Oasis Chapel. Praise God that 4 (3 pictured here) of the 5 English Café participants came to the worship service and stayed to have lunch with the team! Some of them mentioned how nervous they were to come to church. Church members warmly greeted them and calmed their fears. We thank God that the IM team was used as a “magnet.” They attracted the participants who normally would not attend a church service.
The IM Team was involved in many, many ways. From chopping onions for curry, to staining the Oasis Chapel,
to meeting the Rifu Mayor, to hosting a Family Day Camp for the church,
to cleaning Shalom House (camp dormitory), to cleaning the Rifu Chapel for baptism,
they served with humility alongside many Oasis members. Note: This was the first baptism service at Oasis Chapel since the beginning of COVID-19!
During the “Baptism Congratulations and Sayonara” party, there were lots of nice surprises for both the two who received baptism and the IM team members. It was pouring down rain but 50+ people arrived for the party. The IM Team hosted the party with food, snacks, and drinks. Several guests brought food to share, too!
There was so much food that many took home leftovers for a treat. The church members expressed their deep gratitude for the IM Team serving at Oasis Chapel. This was their first volunteer/mission team since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
There were many challenges during the week, but the surprise challenge came during the IM Team’s departure. Due to the heavy rain, a tree fell over the roadway near the main gate. It was blocking access to the dorm where everyone and their luggage were waiting. The team had to walk almost 1/4 mile in the rain with their bags! Pastor Makito was able to squeeze everyone and their luggage in his minivan and get to the local train station! The team made their connection in Sendai to the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Tokyo and the airport! God is good!
Thanks Nicole and IM Team for serving with us in Rifu! Serving together with flexibility and humility, we gained lots of goodwill among our Oasis Chapel friends!
Each day was tiring and challenging. I (Gordon) soon ran out of energy and patience! So, I found myself needing God’s help through prayer. God is teaching me to devote myself to God in service, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Devoting myself to God first, He gives me the energy and love to devote to others. For example, “I am devoting myself to you Lord by Your grace. Please help me be devoted to others . . .”
This was my prayer and God answered again.
P.S. Would you please pray for us as we support the Gardena Valley Baptist Church (GVBC) team arriving this Friday, June 24? They will be serving about 9 days with Oasis Chapel. Then, please pray for the Purpose Church team from CA who will arrive, July 9!