Did you hear that the Hwangs returned from their home assignment? Some of our partners have asked about our trip. One requirement of International Ministries (IM) Global Servants (formerly known as missionaries) is home assignment. This was formerly called “furlough.” Furlough sounds like a break, and it is a break from the work done as “missionaries.” However, the work done visiting supporters and speaking about our work on the field, is mostly not restful. It requires teamwork to do thorough planning, with flexibility, and good execution to be successful.
We will return to the US for about 2 months/year of home assignment during our 5-year commitment. By coordinating with Pastor Makito, we want to maximize our service during the year and regularly report to our partner base.
We departed Japan on Jan. 24 and returned Mar. 8 on our “experimental” home assignment arrangement. In our 6-week visit, we shared with 15 churches and church groups, had 17 individual meetings in Vancouver, Phoenix and LA, and 26 meetings in Seattle.
One of the meetings was for Japanese-speaking pastors in LA. A pastor introduced himself. He said his church is supporting a missionary we work with. We gave a glowing report about Julie, and he was encouraged to hear their partnership is making an impact. At an African American church, a woman asked us how to communicate with a Japanese friend. She wants to share the Gospel with her friend. We suggested some advice on listening and asking gentle questions.
During a 2-day church conference where IM had a booth, Gordon and other missionaries prayed for a 10-year-old boy. He decided to be a missionary at age 4. The kid was ecstatic (along with his parents) and said our prayers were the best part of the conference!
At our last homestay, we shared memories about our departed colleague, Roberta, with her sister. Her sister felt encouraged and strengthened.
During our stay in LA, Gordon got COVID-19. But God’s perfect timing was that he got it midway through our home assignment. This timing allowed us to see the most people, miss only one church engagement, and recover in time for the return trip. Gordon needed a negative COVID test (PCR) to get back to Japan! He usually tires when he meets a lot of people and attends too many meetings. When he got COVID, he probably was under too much stress. Lesson for Lee Ann: 1 or 2 meetings in a day is the max for Gordon.
Organizing a home assignment is usually a difficult task for missionaries and their support team, MPT. Arranging speaking engagements, housing and transportation can be complex. One blessing God provided was 6 homestays with friends and family. Three friends volunteered for nearly all our 6-week journey. We had wonderful hosts for every location. We were allowed to borrow cars in two of the locations. God provided donations to cover most of the other expenses. Lesson for Gordon: God is always faithful and provides for all our needs, so do not worry.
We are so grateful for the hospitality we received in the US. We are thankful to God for providing personal help, resources, time, and energy so we could share with many people some of the things He is doing in Japan.
We thank you for your prayers and financial support that allows IM to send us to Rifu. You are blessing the people in Japan.
If God is encouraging you to do more, there’s still plenty of work to be done. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matt 9:37-38 You can help send workers or be sent!