This morning I dragged myself out of my apartment to do something I had never done before. One of my Korean friends invited me out to do evangelism on the campus close to our church eons ago. I could write an entire entry on my thoughts on tracts, evangelism without relationship building, and perhaps five or six more related topics. But needless to say, a rather frightened, praying-under-her-breath Pamela arrived at the university clock tower about ten minutes late.
We gathered under a tree, sang some hymns in Korean and English, and then took some time to share what God had been showing us during the week in our Bible reading. It's been awhile since I had been in a group that did that, and I was reminded how much I love the accountability. It was a long time of exhortations. The leader of the group retold the whole story of Elijah running from Jezebel, waiting for God on the mountain through the earthquake and fire, and how God finally spoke in a still voice. A British man gave a long, animated exhortation about the book of Ruth and told how God uses the weakest, smallest people. His Japanese wife stood next and, with many fewer words, reminded us of the verse of the cross being foolishness to those who are perishing, but the power of God to those of us being saved. She took comfort in this in the rejection that often comes with sharing the message of the cross.
We all prayed aloud together at the same time, and there was power in the prayer. We didn't "lead anyone to Christ" today, but one high schooler heard the Gospel for the first time; we had a decent conversation with a girl who had studied abroad in Australia and didn't wish to discuss delicate things such as religion; and at the end we had a really fun chat with three guys who were smoking and hanging out by a motorcycle. The guys kind of laughed with us and let us know that Japan has no religion (an often said phrase). Japan has no needs. They repeated. Perhaps two minutes later they had revealed that one of them went to church with his grandma rather often and another had read the whole Bible. This country blows my mind, I tell you! I love Japanese young people a lot.
My verdict on this kind of outreach...dangerous and probably harmful if you think you can just drop a message and run, but potentially wonderful if one is willing to show love and be vulnerable.
It also opened up a connection I had been hoping to make for awhile, because one of the Assemblies girls came to my church afterwards. We had a small Key meeting...truthfully I hadn't expected anyone because I hadn't initiated at all. But it turned out to be four of us. Conversation was deep, real, and God centered. Yay!
I went straight from Key to western Tokyo for the "Sixth Month Checkup" of Global Day of Prayer. We decided once a year wasn't enough. But I must say, this meeting was far more meaningful to me than the one last May.
Stan--the leader of a revival prayer group there--had a wonderful program he called "A Concert of Prayer". With each subject, we would pray as a solo (just on our own), a trio (with the people next to us), and then as a symphony (as the whole group). Every section was moved on by worship songs.
I knew I was "in for it" as soon as I was pulled in for the pre-prayer meeting prayer session and the Holy Spirit just dropped down. Stan was choked up. I could hardly manage words without trembling at who God was. A man I didn't know said that God was holy and the whole group was taken over with awed whispered praises at the holiness of our God. And this was the PRE prayer meeting prayer session.
We praised. We cried out for forgiveness. We stood before God on behalf of Japan, and dozens of other countries as their flags were projected on the screen--including some nation of approximately 7000 people that live off the coast of Newfoundland that Stan is particularly enamored with. ;-) We had five minutes of silence that was the most holy time of the whole evening for me. During the time of silence, I had this picture in my head. It was a father and a little girl. He would try to pick the girl up, but she would hit him on the head, and he would set her down, even though he wanted nothing more than to hold her. Stan called on Pastor Bill to pray after the silence, and he asked forgiveness because we had been holding God at arms length. It seemed very appropriate to me. I could say very little after we were done praying except for, "That was so wonderful and lovely!"
Oh, I should also add, if one more person tells me they are starting a house of prayer anytime soon, I'm not sure what I'll do. One of my Assemblies friends was called to start one a few weeks ago, and is moving into a house / student ministry center to do so sometime this month. As I was walking to the prayer meeting tonight, I heard someone behind me say "Pamela." I turned around, and there was a Brazilian pastor I tried to connect with last May. We had a good talk, obviously both on prayer pages, but didn't really find a connection point. I was surprised he remembered my name. Tonight, as we walked to the meeting, he told me how they really were working to get a continuous prayer ministry (hopefully eventually 24/7) going, and he hoped I would be on board. I have to admit, when I asked God for a 24/7 prayer house in Tokyo back in January, I really didn't expect I was part of this larger vision...and I certainly didn't expect to be told by two separate people in a month less than a year later that it really might happen very, very soon. Pray big, my friends!