A Country of Surprises

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Two weeks in, and Japan is still a country of surprises. At the beginning of this adventure, Japan was a country with pandas, bamboo, manga, bustling streets, buildings that tower into what seems like eternity, and weird food, but now, Japan is much more than that. Although it’s an isolated society, it has many of its own surprises that God has shown me to remind me of his greatness. You see, it really wasn’t until this week that I fully realized just how different Japan is from the country I had imagined.

The first surprise is this: not everyone speaks English and not everyone wants to talk to you. Maybe it’s my ignorant North American worldview or maybe it’s just culture shock, but never did I fully realize how difficult communication would be with the Japanese people. One thing us as a team have been working on is learning some of the language here in Japan, including good-to-know words, phrases and questions we may have that would be helpful in ministry. For example, “Konnichiwa! Watashi wa Madeline desu,” means “Hello! My name is Madeline.” Words like these help fuel our conversations with the locals and our conversations usually end with the question, “Watashi wa anata no tame ni inorimasu ka?” This means, “Can I pray for you?” The frustrating thing is the time in between these exchanges when the person tries to talk to you and carry on the conversation. We don’t know what they’re saying, they don’t understand us either, and google translate can only do so much. Not only that, but the Japanese are quiet people. They avoid communication through staring at their phones or books, and will often times just walk away when you try to speak with them. So, how do we deal? Still I struggle with this question. Do I get frustrated and give up, or do I keep pursuing these people in order to further God and his kingdom?

Through the little experience I do have, I’ve slowly been coming to the conclusion God has led me to on how to view and work in the situations where I try so hard to connect with someone but yet communication is cut off. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply,” and verse 10 says that, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others.” In this way, God has shown me that every little action has the possibility of having a lasting effect on someone as long as it is done in love. Although talking to these people does not always result in the inciting conversation I hope it will, I’ve had to choose to believe that my small act of service somehow demonstrated the love of Christ. Especially in Japan where conversing with strangers is not common, God has pushed me to find joy in the small moments even if they don’t include the miraculous healings and miracles we all want to expect when sharing the gospel. In fact, I’ve slowly been learning that even small moments of victory are God’s workings and just because my human intelligence classifies them as “small” does not mean that they are of any less importance.

My favourite moment that has happened so far was while practicing Japanese around our community when I noticed a small Japanese woman sitting on the bench in the park making origami pockets. When one of the other girls and I asked if we could practice Japanese with her, she nodded ferociously and started jittering away to us. Although we couldn’t understand her well, we were able to make out what she was saying and create a small, but touching, relationship with her. From this, she began to teach us how to make the origami pockets she had been putting together earlier. I’m not sure what this encounter did for the woman, but I hope and pray that we were able to brighten her day just a little. As we walked away from this exciting conversation, I was left not only full in heart, but with hands full of origami and a package of gum all from a little, old, Japanese woman.

The second surprise Japan threw at me I full well expected. When I saw it, though, it still shocked me and caused me to rethink my view and preconceptions about Japan. This Friday, our team had the opportunity to meet with both of the YWAM bases in Tokyo and do ministry with them. We had the options of going on prayer walks, praying/talking to people, or doing prophetic art. Something I feel very passionately about is sex-trafficking and prostitution. When I heard that we were only a short walk away from a red-light district, I knew that’s where I wanted to go. You see, I knew full well before coming to Japan that prostitution was an issue, but when I walked onto that street, I quickly realized just how little I knew about it. Japan, amidst the bedazzle and plethora of people, has its own set of issues that may be hidden from the human eye, but are really and truly, very real.

As I walked down the street I eventually began to notice the prices advertising young girls in front of buildings, the “hotels” that weren’t really hotels, and the men in front of bars that were attempting to draw other men into their buildings. It’s absolutely horrifying and maddening all at the same time. While I prayed in this area, I began to ask God and even myself how such a horrible place could exist next to normal restaurants and shops (not to mention a police station) while tourists walked not even five minutes away out of the train stations. Not only that, but I again was left with the hopeless sensation of not being able to do enough. I couldn’t even talk to the girls because they weren’t the ones outside. They were all inside. God had to once again give me a loving reminder that what I view as a small act, is not less important to the God of the universe. So, even though I still have no idea if my prayers helped or were answered, I have faith that they were heard by the Lord, and I know that he hears and see the hearts of the girls and men involved in the sex-trafficking industry.

As I write this, I am also reminded of Matthew 5:44 that says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” After seeing the men in the red-light district attempt to draw other men into their businesses, I felt anger and hatred towards them for misusing girls and trying to get other men to do the same thing. Before I had even begun this particular prayer walk, however, my other teammates and I had prayed about and recognized that even though these men are sinful, they are still loved in God’s eyes and are worthy of redemption. During this time, I had to consistently revisit these prayers. I knew in that moment that I was not a worthy judge of those men, as I too have had my own sin to repent for. Only God who is sinless, can decided their fate and because he loves them, I knew I had to choose to do the same.

The past two weeks have been a very stretching experience for this team and for myself personally. We’ve continued on with the homeless ministry we began in the first week by singing songs, handing out food, and praying for people. This week we also decided to go to a park and worship. This ended up with us dancing around and praising God in a big circle. Everywhere we go, we try and spread God’s light with us by simply greeting those who walk by us and praying for others as we feel led. We’ve also had the opportunity to attend New Hope Church each Sunday. We all really love the worship at this church and appreciate how the service is translated between Japanese and English. Last Sunday we also attended a second church where we were fed squid soup. This was definitely an odd ingredient to many of us, but most of us tried it, and luckily, we have a very willing team that is always open for new opportunities no matter how odd they may be to us. We also had the chance to hear and meet David Cole who is a speaker in YWAM. He spoke on our identities in God and really encouraged us to base our foundation in a strong Christian faith.

This week, God has really moved in me by reminding me of his great power especially when things begin to get frustrating and difficult. Through this, God has taught me to appreciate everything I experience and have faith in his ability to take the small things I do for his glory, and plant a seed in the lives of others. As I continue on into the third week of outreach, I cannot wait to see the plans God will unravel in each of our lives and the people we meet. God has been so good in leading us this far, and I know, even in the hardships, he will continue to be faithful.

By Madeline Peters

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Our Greatest Testimony

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After wrapping up our amazing time in Chisinau, Moldova, this week we have had the opportunity to work in an orphanage alongside a ministry run by Raluca Farcas called ‘Mission Impossible.’ This ministry gives young girls a home, education, love and most importantly the opportunity to learn about God. Even though the term we use for these girls is ‘orphan’ it doesn’t necessarily imply the normal definition of orphan. Some of them actually don’t have either parents, but most of them actually do have parents or at least one. In Moldova a lot of the children living in orphanages do have at least one parent still around but the people of Moldova suffer from so much poverty that they often have to send their children to orphanages simply because they can’t afford to raise them themselves. Raluca’s ministry gives girls a home until they are able to stand on their own two feet.

During our time here so far, we have gotten the opportunity to build relationships with the girls, run English classes for them, visit local schools and villages, as well as visit nursing homes and run street kids ministry programs. It has been so amazing to see God’s hand at work here in Moldova and pour out his love to the people here.

After the first of arriving at the orphanage, many of our team members began getting sick myself included and I started to become overwhelmed by the many obstacles I have faced while being here. I began to try to begin to press into his word and try and learn what God had been trying to teach me through this seemingly impossible season. One night when we were having a team meeting with Raluca, she began to share with us what God had been putting on her heart to share with us for our team here at the orphanage. She began to read from Acts 27 and 28 about the story of Paul and how during this time in his life he experienced every kind of storm imaginable. He finally reached the land of Malta, and when he was bit by a snake he took his bitten hand and asked how can I heal?

I’ve come to learn the God doesn’t always give us an explanation, but what He does give is a revelation. Our greatest testimony sometimes isn’t what we say with our words but the way we act whilst we are in the storm. In this season I have chosen to turn the question of “Why me?” to “What are you teaching me in this season God?”

I am so excited to see how God will continue to work in my team, as well as the people of Moldova.
Paige Nagata
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God Is In Control

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For the first week of our outreach we headed to England for roughly ten days. Our flight left from Belize City to Toronto, and from there to London. We arrived on Saturday the 26th around 11:00 am. We stayed just outside of London at a YWAM base in Harpenden. It was beautiful. Right as we walked up we were all amazed at how nice the atmosphere was. Everyone was so loving.

The first couple of days were a little tiring but we did things to keep us awake so we didn’t experience much jetlag. Sunday evening we all decided to go downtown Harpenden. They had lots of decorations up for Christmas and had a market going on. I personally had a significant moment from that evening. We went into a store called “M&S” and I saw a dozen of roses for five pounds. Which is extremely cheap compared to where I’m from. As you may not know, God has shown me a rose every time I struggle with trusting him just to symbolize “trust me”. I had a difficult time with trusting God with protecting my family. So, when I did finally trust Him, He showed me a picture of a bouquet of roses. So, I decided I wanted to get the dozen of roses. After I bought them, I had the team by me and I gave each and everyone one of them a rose signifying that they are my new family and I trust God to protect them and take care of them. It was a wonderful moment for our new becoming family.

 We had a great time downtown Harpenden but, our main purpose in England was to get visas into Mozambique. So, earlier that Sunday we interceded for a smooth process with the visas. We were all excited and felt like it was going to be an easy thing to do. The following Monday, we headed into London to go to the Mozambique Embassy. Before we entered, we stood outside and prayed for the people in the embassy. We went in with a few other people and waited until they called us up. Once they did, Rachel talked to the lady, Rabeca, about our visas. Rabeca told Rachel that the Europeans were able to get their visas but the Americans couldn’t because they have to go to the Mozambican Embassy in America. We all were shocked by this because we felt like it was going to be a smooth process. Rabeca told Rachel that she was going to call someone and around 3:00 pm she would call Rachel with news about Americans getting the visas. Throughout the day we stopped and prayed multiple times. Just before 3:00, we gathered around in a circle and prayed. As Rachel got the phone call we continued to pray until she was off the phone. Rebeca had told Rachel that there was absolutely nothing that they could do. After another difficult phone call Rabeca mentioned to call again tomorrow.

Throughout the night we prayed and prayed about our visas. The next day we stayed in Harpenden and had team time and prayed more. Later that night Rachel gave Rabeca another call to see if there was anything that they could do. Shortly after, we all got a message in our group chat saying that the Americans can get their visas! We were all extremely excited. By the end of the week on Friday, all eleven of us had our visas.

We all learned a lot from this experience. We learned that God is in control over everything and to keep praying especially when things get tough. I personally learned that just because things don’t always go as planned doesn’t mean God isn’t in control. This past week in London was great for our team. Being together for that week helped us learn a lot from each other. It was a blessing from God that we got our visas and got to spend time with each other to grow as a family.

By: Abigail Dannenberg

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Living as a Disciple

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When I stepped onto this island I had expectations of what this time would be like. I’m not going to tell you if they were exceeded or not met but I can say that my experiences here are always unexpected.

If you are reading this because you are thinking about doing a DTS, or because you like to stay updated with YWAM DP, or simply because you’ve just stumbled upon this blog and collection of stories of God’s goodness to His kids. I just have a few things to say about His goodness to me, personally, in this time.


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He Knows Just What I Need

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Coming to YWAM DP I desired answers. Answers of what the Lord has for my purpose, where I am supposed to go after my DTS (Discipleship Training School), how I was going to get to that point, and when that was going to be. In other words, I wanted to know God’s plans. I was thinking that getting these answers, God would just snap His fingers and unfold my future before my eyes. I never would have imagined that God was going to dig into my past as well as confront how I am doing right now, but oh boy He is!

I do not have a horrible past or childhood; just a broken home and what I viewed as normal teenaged troubles. I did not think these things really affected me but I have learned over the past few weeks, that these things have a massive grip on my life. I am challenged daily to assess what I hold to be true, what others say is true about me, and what God reveals to me to be true. Amid the challenges and newly found knowledge of who I am in God (which I’m still finding daily) I find myself surrounded by people that are on fire for God and I find myself growing closer to Him and all that he brings. I see others around me, who in a matter of a week I could call family, struggle to uncover the same strongholds in their lives.

YWAM DP has set-up a community that allows us to connect with one another rapidly and deeply; doing so many things together, lectures, worship, cooking, small groups, homework assignments, chores/work duties, going to town, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving to name a few of many. We experience how one another processes, grieves, expresses excitement, etc. Community living here causes us to naturally bond with one another and allows us to have someone to grow with and relate to while still being from all walks of life and coming together for one common purpose; to be better equipped to share our love in Christ with others.

In this time, I have found myself diving deeper in relationships, I come from a family of secrets and I have learned I don’t put my trust in others, God has been doing many things within my heart. He knew that coming to my DTS I wanted to know more about myself and He gave me just that, but in a raw version, in our first week of lectures we touched on foundations: the character and nature of Christ. Then we did identity.  This week was a week God had crafted just for what I had asked. As a result, with this newly discovered knowledge of who God sees me as I then find myself struggling to let go of what I see myself as because is it far beneath what God has. After being reminded and gaining yet again, a new understanding of who Christ really is it changes the lies that I believed to be true.

All in all, these first few weeks of DTS have been God-inspiring, being able to learn so much and growing closer to God. I have received more than I thought I would from my entire DTS, but only in the few short weeks I’ve been here. You’ve got this Lord, and you continue to show me repeatedly!

Akira Murphy

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