Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why Japan?


People always ask me: Why Japan? What made you want to go to Japan?
So here's my answer.

I first wanted to go to Japan when I saw the opportunity on the ELCA website in January (2008). There were no bells, no deep longing for the people across the Pacific, just an opportunity. 

I've always had a strong desire to travel. I remember as a child wanting to have a job that would send me to distant lands. As a freshman my desire to be a minister of my Christian faith and my desire for travel seemed to come together as I heard the call of God to mission work. When I graduated from college I considered serving abroad, but after praying about it and considering my financial situation I knew it was not the right time for me to go. This past year as I was finishing up my time in Seminary the time seemed right. I had almost decided to enter an ordination process to become a pastor when I found myself tired of my experiences in the US. I knew I needed to get out of the country to examine life and faith from another perspective.

Although I had no previous desire to go to Japan my need and my skills matched the ELCA's J-3 program (3 years of service in Japan). While I wanted to go abroad I felt I needed to be in a stable country because this would be my first trip out of the country. I also really needed to pay off student loans which meant I could only go abroad if I had a paying job (my work is supported  through the funds of the church and others who wish to give toward this ministry). The largest hurdle was that I only speak English fluently so I needed to be placed somewhere that would either teach me the language or where no language was required. Well, J-3's teach English conversation so there are no special degrees or language requirements other than being able to speak American English fluently.

I am so grateful to God for this opportunity and am very excited to go. Just under 6 weeks left before I go. What am I looking forward to most? Being in a country where Christianity is not part of the culture. Christians make up 1% of Japan's population. Although some older generations practice Buddhism, and the Shinto tradition is ingrained in much of the Japanese culture, Japan is by and large an atheistic/non-religious country. It'll be interesting to see what I discover about God and about the Gospel in this setting.

Well that's the how and why I chose to go to Japan. I haven't figured out how to check comments yet so if you're leaving them I'm not ignoring you. If you do have more questions email anytime.

If you're in a praying mood:

Please pray for me this last month at home. I've got some ends to tie up and people I'd like to see and a garage full of stuff (thank you mom and dad for letting me store my stuff) I should probably sell. Please pray wisdom, energy, and sanity for me. Thanks.
Jen