Seeking His heart for this neighborhood
I have known Ramone for two years now through his prophetic artworks. www.art-for-jesus.blogspot.com. Sometimes there are some illustrations that didn’t make sense to me at all, yet most of the time the images are confirmations to what I’ve prayed, or comforts that I need in times.
This trip will be primarily working with Ramone to see what God had placed in his heart for the area that he works on and also to be connected with his contacts.
The first assignment I have with Ramone is to walk around Tennoji and pray together with him. As I take photos casually at the street, the obasan in the picture approached me, “気おつけてねtake care, young girl! There are many different people here as you walk down the arcade, take care!” So we took the opportunity to sit down and chat learning about this street, this area, and what she thinks about life.
Obasan, 70 years old, tough lady, survival of Hiroshima during ww2, her malformed left hand is a mark of harshness of life. The friendliness of the Obasan had opened door to befriend with the other people in the street.
The old man is a good guitarist and vocalist who plays on the street, and the young man is probably a regular wanderer at this area. This friendship seems to be a good beginning of my tour in Tennoji.
nishinari - 50 YEN drinks
This is the cheapest drinks that I have ever seen in Japan. 50 yen and above, almost half price of the normal
vending machine. Ramone said it is probably only in Nishinari-ku 西成区, a place where you might find about hundred of jobless people waiting to be employed day by day basis.
Nishinari-ku christian church 西成区大阪救霊会館
The Christian Church is of 70 years in Nishinari, serving the poor and needy, feeding the homeless and have service every evening. A huge amount of resource is put into this service.
They also have two vans that goes around to preach about Jesus Christ in the city.
The cost to pay is really about sacrificing the comfort of having a brand new building, or a set of brand new chairs for service. Everything in this church is just so humble. Yet, they send missionaries to overseas too, actively praying for the nations, for China. They welcome mission teams as well.
Many homeless have come to the service mainly for food. Yet, in the midst of those, sometimes there will be a few truly came to know about the Gospel and saved. I could see the tears in Sakai Sensei’s eyes, the joy that leap in her eyes as she shared about the salvation of the homeless. Prosperity is not the tune that this church sings, but the love towards the neighbors is!
The impressions of Shitennojimae 四天王寺前 are a lot of healthy looking students, quiet temples and a mushrooms of love hotels, a weird combination. The place also included an elderly care center, a blind center, and a YMCA building that located not far from the Subway station.
Be One movement in Kansai - B1 House church (http://www.b-1.jp/)
Jumpei, a English teacher of an international high school, started a cell church together with his student’s father, Keishi, three years back. The interesting things of this meeting place are: (i) it is located at Ame-mura, a sense of Osaka version of Harajuku; (ii) the meeting is free and easy; (iii) yet in all these, you find the spirit moving.
There is a crowd roaring outside the building, and then there is a little corner at the 5th floor inside the building with a little written sign: #Prayer room#. As you open the door, a scene of people casually sitting and freely chatting in the room will brush away the stagnant image of what a normal service will be. It looks more like a high school club to me, with juice and snacks on the table, someone causally playing guitar, someone concentrating in working on her laptop, someone playing, someone reading......
The service starts with worship, and it just starts to pull a string in the heart of the people, and then they are ready for scriptures.... no one will be directly giving a message, but they proceed with bible reading, and then form into small groups discussing and reading, sharing what they feel about it, and pray about it together. The meeting is casual, yet with a sense of unity in the Spirit, AND fun!!! Fellowship...... that’s the smell of this church.
With limitations yet also with great fulfillment of the Lord, the prayer room is going to shut down at the end of this month, but move to Shinsaibashisuji, a more higher end shopping arcade, to combine with another cell-church that is held in Shimamura’s office. With this piece of information, please pray for the spiritual atmosphere at this place and also the people who walk into Shinsaibashisuji, let them be bless by the present of His body!
The Needs at the Riverbank
Sometimes the riverbank is quiet, sometimes it isn’t, especially during spring and summer. There will be stores set up at the riverbank, featuring from food to entertainment.
One store that caught my eyes is the palm reading store. A crowd standing outside the store, examining their own palms with the references (pictures of palms) that hang up at the store.
Probably feeling insecure for the future, probably eager to know what is install next in their life, probably wanna to escape from current situation, they all stopped, mainly middle aged women.
Coming from a background of unbelieved, I can identify with the feelings of uncertainties that causes a lot of anxieties especially when the present doesn’t seem to work out fine. People need an answer for the experiences that they have, the experiences that they are going through....
The homeless are often being ignored in the park or at the riverbank. The strong desire in Ramone in reaching out to them reminds me about Scott Williams who had the same passions towards these people. Let us first remove our lenses, and begin to ask God how He looks at these people.Through God’s lenses... this is the key to His Kingdom and His ministries!
In early 2007, when God led me to Ramone’s blog, I felt a strong connection with Heart4Japan. I often think, if there is going to be a fellowship of the Ring, Ramone would probably be Legolas Greenleaf. Prince of Elf, that could see and hear spiritual things and have an understanding of it.
On the third day of staying with Ramone, he handed me a picture of Jesus under the pink sakura tree, and told me this is a picture for hikikomori. A scripture that attached to this is Song of Songs 2:14. The beauty of the petals, the long waited season, the joy and cheerful look of this picture, along with the scripture pierced my heart, the hikikomori is precious in His eyes, and he is calling them out from their closet!
Hikikomori might have rejected the world, or vice versa. But God has not reject them. He has a message for them, and that’s why He had brought us into this picture so that we can sense the hearts of the broken ones, and begin to pray and carefully search His heart for them, and work through it with persistence and endurance!
Ramone has a very sensitive heart and tentative ears for the Lord. It is fun to learn about what he had studied and often encouraging and humbling to learn about his visions of the place where his heart is on. I’ll leave it to you to be connected with him, so that you can form a strong team in the future if you have a burden for the poor and needy through interceding and prophetic art. Shalom!
〜moment of relax 〜 長居公園 Nagai Koen
Besides of working and praying, I had an opportunity to relax and just to catch up with all the sleeping time that I needed to regain strength. The extensive travel in past three weeks had been more tiring than I expected. Probably often have to carry not less than 8kg loads on my back and extensive walking are the most tiring part for me...... ^^
There is a beautiful park in Nagai, one station away where I am staying. An International Game is going to be held at the park in May, and prior to that, there was a clean up of homeless in that area. An botanical garden is attached to this park.
In the park on weekends, there were elderly people with their paint brushes or cameras and walking sticks, young families with beautiful children, a few pair of couples, some high school students, having fun, resting and having bento (lunch box) in the garden.
After an hour walk in the garden, we finally sat down under the sakura tree (where the flowers had almost gone) and had our bento. It was relaxing as the sun was shining, but the weather was just cooling, and there was an old man concentrating on his drawing at the path which is not too far from our left, and another few families sitting not too far at our back.
Lying down on the Mr.Thomas mat, I fell asleep comfortably, as a Sabbath rest, in the arms of the nature that He created, a relaxing moment, together with Yoko and Timo.
Yet, in enjoying this, it also finally made me realize why many people had not recognize the problems of the homeless, hikikomori or youths with deviant behaviors. I remember an Osaka lady advised me earlier when I started the work on hikikomori, “Yes, there is a problem. But I believe we have enough ‘normal’ people to function in this society!”
......a pause for you, for me, to think......
Gospel concertmama outreach
There is a Gospel Choir Outreach in Jesus Family, where mothers in the neighborhood can bring their children to the church and relax, fellowship with one another, making friends, and singing Gospel music. http://www.jesus-family.jp/
A beauty saloon that turns into an outreach place, where bible study and Sunday worship also take place in this warm Total Beauty Center.
Highlights of Next week
Meeting this team in RJC (Reaching Japanese for Christ) remained a blessing to me. They had gone all the way out to meet with Takako Watanabe, a missionary that was sent by the Evangelical Church to Seattle, and brought a little bookstore with them to the conference.
Their love towards the Hiki T-shirt encouraged me! Somehow this turn out to be a wish to work with them in this trip.
The highlight to this is that we seemed to cross into each other without any prior plans that we made. First, I met a member from the church during the second week when I was in JCMN Summit, and then the day after I left Nara city, Pastor Fukuno came to speak in Antioch Cafe.
It seems like God is connecting Heart4Japan with the body of Japan Evangelical Churches (JEC). Takako did the translation for the brochures from English into Japanese, and the work with Hikikomori had also led me to Nagano Fukuin Kyoukai and Nara Fukuin Church.
Let’s pray and see what God is leading us to. Having an opportunity to share with the ladies and the youths in the church is encouraging. Though it is just another two days ahead, I am still reserving a place for the Holy Spirit to move so that the message will be of what He wants the congregation to hear. Please pray with me in this too! Let me not speak out of flesh, but in obedience and tentative to His will and desire.
It will be interesting to find out more about this church, and leaning towards the Holy Spirit to see what is install in the coming week. Maybe more of hikikomori? maybe more of encouraging the youths to after their dreams in Christ? maybe sessions of comfort and prayers? 楽しみね！
http://r-c-i.net/ Add: 〒584-0092 大阪府富田林市昭和2-2-8, Tel: 0721-25-9788
Prayer Points for Heart4Japan:
- Possible connection with Evangelical Churches.
- More people will catch the vision and willing to come together to seek His heart for the harvest in His field.
- Foundation for future work.
Prayer Points for Roseline:
- Speaking with Discernment.
- Chances to work with hikikomoris.
- Being an encouragement to the family of hikikomoris.
- Faith and Trust