On Wednesday morning, I have a class of older ladies and one college aged guy. One of the church members is a student and she immediately puts me on the spot (without having any idea she was doing so) by sharing with the class how she is a Christian and therefore surprised her friend by still being willing to visit a statue connected with the Buddhist tradition that is connected with healing. She's about retirement age and her husband has cancer. I have taken to asking Japanese people 'Where does the power come from?' in these kinds of situations. Usually they don't really have an answer, but in this case they explained that, at one point awhile back, a person had swallowed a fish bone that had become stuck in his throat, and praying to the statue had caused the fish bone to dissolve.
Wednesday afternoon is free time at Hongo and I used it to read Punk Monk. It was *so* exciting. I've been wondering for a little while what the next step life (not the next big step, but the next step towards the big step) is, and it seemed like the way to set up a boiler room is to keep organizing 24/7 prayer weeks. It is to get people to fall in love with prayer by praying. I like how practical the 24/7 movement is...it's not a lot of theory about prayer or a lot of people who have all the answers. They're people who put faith into action. It's the idea that, when we hear God saying pray, we pray. When we hear Him saying, 'love your neighbor', we leave our houses and go out and love as best we can. This is becoming an increasingly important concept in my life...living who I want to be now rather than waiting for perfection to go out and love.
Wednesday evening my first class is three women, all Tokyo University College or Graduate students. M. is a Mathematical Engineering student, K. is in some sort of developing countries study, and L. is getting a Ph.D. in history. M. has volunteered abroad in Kolkata with Missionaries of Charity just like I did last summer. K.'s parents were Christian and she's been attending a church for 1-2 years (she confessed this to me when the other two students were absent last week), and L. is a Korean Christian who gets very nervous if you talk to her about Christianity at all and will quickly say, "Well...as you know, it's really hard to stay a Christian in Japan..." None of these three knew each other before this April, so the challege has been getting them to interact, but we're starting to get there.
The class after this on Wednesday is a class of all non-Christians, but a non-Baptized church member (A.) attended the class last night, and I realized just how far this Wednesday class has come. The visitor said to me afterwards, "But...those two women were Christian, weren't they?" This is the same class that I shocked maybe 10 months ago when I told them Christians believe Jesus is God. One of the same women who said at that time, "I never knew Christians believed that!" is one of the women that A. was convinced was a Christian.
In that same class, N. had returned from a trip to Ireland. N. is one of two people that I have specifically chosen to pray for every time I intercess...with a goal to pray for both of them everyday. The part about her trip that she chose to share with the class was visiting a church in Ireland and feeling (in her own words) a kind of 'holiness' there that she said, 'you cannot find in Japan'. I had dropped a New Testament and a letter for N. in her mailbox a few weeks ago, but she got it tonight because of her trip to Ireland. She was so excited to get a Bible, and she declared that she was going to read in her own Bible instead of on the class Bible study sheet...which only lasted until I told her that the English was different, but it was so fun to see her excitement!
I was realizing as I was walking home after class on Wednesday just how many on the line pre-Christians God has been sending me. And with that was the self-realization that my favorite people in the world to work with are seekers. It doesn't matter if they're Christian or not. Discipleship with pre-Christians and with Christians isn't so different, and I find myself most drawn to the people who are very close to the line on either side. The people who are looking for encouragement that God is real, and who have real deep questions that they are still willing to voice outloud.