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I still remember Pastor Lin, director of Lifting Hands Network, asking me, “Are you ready for the Japan short-term mission trip?” “Yes, all is prepared.” I replied with confidence, not knowing things weren’t going to go as planned.

I was only a junior in high school when I read a book called Silence, written by Endō Shūsaku. Those days of immersing myself in the pages of how Japanese Christians were persecuted, had me experience the emotional sufferings and sadness as if I was present with my brothers and sisters in Christ. There were days I had no appetite and had trouble sleeping at night, only to repeatedly pray, “Lord! Please have mercy on Japan!”

Two years ago, Hiromi, a Japanese friend of mine, invited me to visit. I was really happy, and kept my feelings toward Japan close to heart, waiting for God’s timing.

As it is harder to share the gospel in Japan, most missionaries open cafés to make it easier to connect with people. When Hiromi finished her master’s degree in TESOL from Biola University, she decided to move back to Sapporo, Hokkaido, joining COEN missions. Café COEN was founded by missionaries, Mark & Athlee Bowman, on October 1st, 2007. The café provides English courses, Bible studies, English activities, and also set meals. When Mark & Athlee retired this April, Dale & Karen Viljoens from OMF took over.

Most of COEN customers are ladies over forty. I was pretty excited when I found out, because usually women are more receptive towards the Gospel. Furthermore, because COEN has foreign teachers leading their English activities, such as their Bible Study and Discussion, I knew that it would be great working with them. Thus, I scheduled to go to Japan on a November 27th flight during the Christmas season, even though I don’t like the cold weather. I scheduled to return on December 27th.

Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle the day before my flight. To leave on time I had to take a cortisone shot and borrow a walking pole from a friend. When I got to the airport, the wheels of my suitcase weren’t working, and I had to get a brand-new suitcase when I got to Japan. Arriving at Hokkaido, with the dramatic temperature difference, I suffered from headaches, stiffness in my fingers, and oral sores. I even accidently cut myself while preparing food at my friend’s house.

With all the misfortunes, I still really enjoyed the Tuesday prayer meetings at COEN. We would pray for the leaders, all the students in the English courses, the Bible Study, the English activities, and all the customers of the café. During the Bible Study and Discussion, I was able to meet a lot of nice people. The missionaries that lead the courses not only can speak fluent Japanese, but can even preach in Japanese at some of the local Japanese churches. Their commitment to missions was a great inspiration. In the middle of the café there is a large table, allowing customers to connect each other. I would be there at the table most of time when there aren’t any English courses going on.

On December 5th, my right eye was feeling teary and irritated. The following day I went for a checkup and found out that I had Epidemic Kerato-Conjunctivitis. In order not to infect the people around me, I wasn’t able to go to any public areas (including COEN) and forced to stay home. Therefore, I decided to change my flight back to Taiwan to December 8th, as I didn’t want to burden Hiromi, whom I was staying with. I had many questions and doubts during this time, asking God, “Why are these things happening? How can I leave without leading any one to Christ? It hasn’t been two weeks and there have been more than nine “incidents”. Isn’t this too much?”

Was this trip to Japan a waste of time and resources? Not even close. I was touched and sadden by the understanding of the risk of divorce all Japanese women, even royalty, and the condemnation and persecution they will face from the families if they choose to become a Christian. I was inspired by the commitment of the missionaries who were willing to give their all for God, though only to be faced with misunderstandings and forced to leave the Japanese church, where they had served for so long. So many times, I have seen people tear up when just speaking to me. So many times, I have seen people experience the presence of the Lord through my testimonies. So many times, I have seen people being filled with gratitude and thanksgiving after watching the film “How to Help Those in Need” ……As the memories of the past weeks flow through my mind, I know how precious this trip to Japan was. Although there are things that I still don’t understand, but I will never doubt the will of our Lord.

Thanksgiving:

1. The translation of “IGNITE” interactive course 1st year curriculum has been completed and mailed to our donors.
2. A total of 32 people joined the October 26th “Walk Out of Grief” Workshop in ShuLin, including pastors, brothers and sisters from Taichung, MiaoLi, and Ilan. Jane was invigorated by their passion for learning.
3. The facilitator training of the support groups for the “Walk Out of Grief” Workshop in ShuLin on November 16th concluded with joy and tears. Two pastors who joined the training gave their feedback to Jane, saying the courses were really practical and of upmost importance.

Prayer Request:
1. May the Lord prepare the speakers and the churches that will support the conferences to be held in 2020.
2. May the editing of the translation of Take Your Life Back and For Men Only be a success.
3. May the Lord use both DVD sets of “IGNITE” and “Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage” to bless Christian couples. May the Lord also lead couples who are still unbelievers to join “IGNITE” and have a personal relationship with Him.
4. May the Lord open the path for more cities and counties to start “Walking Out of Grief” and “Group Crisis Intervention” Courses.
5. May the Lord continue to use the books published by Lifting Hands Network to bless more and more Chinese readers.

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