2011 Japan – Joy Um

My Beloved is Mine and I am His

 

The day before leaving for Japan, I had received the Father’s blessing during Sunday Swim. Every word spoken over me stirred my heart and made me feel like God was romancing me. But the words that really captured my heart were that I was a fully loved and accepted daughter, and verses from Song of Songs chapter 2. Song of Songs surprised me because it had been the exact verses that my Emmaus familia leader had spoken over me back in May. On that Sunday I marveled at how God prepares me and strengthens me at the perfect time, right before the mission trip. But little did I realize that God’s hands were working not only in the present, but also in the future. What I received that Sunday was not for me alone, but it was a prophecy for what to look for in Japan. What I saw in Japan was God’s “lilies among the thorns,” His “darlings among the young women.” He had already picked His daughters out and marked them with His love. I felt like I was sent in to be a witness, and to learn from how God awakens those flowers: He lifts up their faces to see and receive the rays of God’s light. They eventually blossom and spread their fragrance with God’s touch.

God’s blossoming flowers I met in Japan were Saki, Haruka, Moe, and Lisa. Saki is a member of Fuse Jesus Community at Machida- a keyboardist, and a small group leader. When I first met her while preparing for street band outreach on Friday, she was wearing a black dress with a flower pattern. She was petite and skinny, with big eyes. My immediate impression of her was how delicate and fragile she looked. Because of this first impression, I was surprised by her strength and intimate relationship with God during her small group after Sunday service. She had to translate English to Japanese and vice versa continuously during dinner for Jen unni and myself. She could barely eat because her lips were so busy speaking life over her small group members in both Japanese and English. Sake shared about how she had an argument with her mother, where the mother spoke many false identities over her. However, Saki kept on remembering her true identity in God. As she shared, I just felt how much God treasured Saki. I felt like God was building her up in His safe arms as a beautiful flower that will translate not just English to Japanese, but also God’s sweet whispers into sensible words for the Japanese people. The beauty and light that God clothed her with were confirmed when a few of our team members prayed for her.

I met Haruka, Moe, and Lisa during the Friday street band outreach. Mat Wachtor had handed them over to me just because I was a girl and he thought I would have more to talk about with them. Mat was right. Even though my Japanese was extremely limited, God connected us as sisters. These three girls were in their third year in high school. Honestly, I do not even remember what I was blabbering about for so long with those three girls. God definitely captured their hearts on the first day we met and drew them in slowly. These girls were beautiful. Although their make-up made them look a little more mature than their age, I felt their innocent and curious hearts. I felt like God was shaping my only-child heart into a more sisterly heart to protect them and bring their hearts close to His own. God also made their thirst for His love very evident to me. Even before I reached out for them, they were reaching out for me first via email and Twitter. They loved our team members even before I began to love on them. God knew that I am not the most expressive or forward person when it comes to love, so He showed me His grace by introducing me to three most active, curious, and completely lovable blossoming flowers out of his garden to learn from how actively they seek to satiate their thirst.

God surprised me. What I received from Him on Sunday was not only for me, and what I prayed for Japan, I ended up receiving. God is sometimes so silly. Everything I looked for, God gently but surely showed me. I felt like He was playing Blue’s Clues with me. I had written in my journal:

“July 11th night debrief. Expectations for Japan mission trip:

1) That the young people in Japan (2 sons at least) break down and cry “Abba Father, I have returned home”

2) That there will be a restoration of mother-daughter relationship. All the burden and expectations will be broken off of the child and instead be replaced by God’s love. Tomorrow’s going to be a day of sunshine and of an awakening for both myself and the Japanese people.”

The next morning as we entered Iwaki City, a sign read, “Welcome to Iwaki City, the Sunshine City.” Not only was God’s presence on the billboard sign on the entrance of Iwaki City, but just everywhere in Iwaki. God also ended up fulfilling my two specific expectations for Japan. I don’t think I fully understood (and I will never fully understand) the very things that I expected the Japanese people to receive. I think God wanted me to first taste for myself the depth and immensity for His love. I broke down suddenly and ended up crying when I saw Pastor Mark (Fuse Jesus Community’s pastor) playing with his three-year-old daughter, Hana, during the Saturday jam session outreach. Hana’s joy and freedom when dancing to the praise music and when playing hide-and-seek with her father suddenly came to me as the same joy and freedom I can have in dancing with God my Father. I saw how Pastor Mark came running to Hana whenever she called out “daddy” while they played hide-and-seek and realized that the Lord is always there, ready to come running towards us at even our smallest cry. God’s love surprises me every time with its simplicity and grandeur. So I was the one crying out “Father, I have returned to your house!” at the end of the day. God humbled me to see that I am no better expert of His love than the Japanese people. Japanese people and I are both God’s children, and we both walk the journey of being awakened to God’s love for us. The Japan mission trip was witnessing God’s tangible love more than anything else. Japan is not a land of darkness. Japan is God’s land and He is the mighty and gracious God of of this nation.

“My beloved is mine and I am his;
he browses among the lilies.
Until the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved,
and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag
on the rugged hills” (Song of Songs 2:16-17)

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