Paul Myers and Jessica Tekawa are framing a map of Japan. This month and the first two weeks in November - every day from 10 pm to 11 pm either individually or with just a few others - their team and all the Japanese campus staff are praying for a different prefecture in Japan and for the CCC staff there. Jessica says, “It's been an awesome way to learn about the needs of each area of Japan and also to pray with my teammates/roommates before going to bed. Our team really wants to be a team of prayer and evangelism this year and it's sweet to be able to start off that way with the rest of the staff as well.”
There are actually two STINT teams in Tokyo this year. Their first week on campus was a ‘Fill the Feast’ week. Paul and Jessica did this based on the ‘Evangelism Motivators’ that Dusty and Allison Hoffman gave us in Korea. (Even though I think Jessica took a nap during that session based on her notes.) At the same time, they were doing the ‘Building a Biblical Basis for Evangelism’ from the Playbook. Jessica shares that the first day they were on campus she was experiencing a lot of fear and nervousness. Maybe it was because the very campus she was on was one where last year she was told that if they didn't leave the administration would call the police. Jessica writes that she is very aware of her need to renew her mind with Truth every day and almost every moment.
Amidst the warfare, Paul and Jessica’s team have met a lot of students who are open and really genuinely seem interested in the gospel, but aren't faithful in meeting back with them. Last week five students indicated that they would want to pray to receive Christ but they needed time to think. One was Chinese international student named Li Weh who actually did pray to receive Christ. Each of the four other students (Koki, Tomoka, Yuki and Mari) either cancelled their appointments or the team couldn't get a hold of them which was, as you can imagine, discouraging. They are planning a Halloween party outreach and the theme is ‘The Masks We Wear’. “Many Japanese put up a false front and it's recognized even among the students we talk to so we're going to have a short time to talk about what it means to ‘unmask’ and to have the Truth set us free,” Jessica explains.
That theme makes me consider the masks that I wear. I don't know about you but I tend to protect myself. Paul (not Myers but the Apostle) unmasked himself in 1 Timothy: “… Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Paul writes that he was chief among sinners… top of the list or I guess bottom of the list… world champion of sinners. Not past tense, present. Instead of being discouraged and throwing a pity party, it drew Paul into a life of incredible gratitude. He knew his position in Christ. He knew his role as apostle to the Gentiles. God had called the worst dude imaginable to be a living display of the depth of his unlimited patience and mercy.
What if I saw myself as chief of sinners? What if I lived every day like I need the gospel? Not needed but need. Yes I know my position is secure but what if I lived unmasked screaming to the world, "I desperately need today Jesus because I am the worst of sinners"?
I think if I (and all of us) lived every day like this some things would happen. I think we would be safe. We would be so overwhelmed by our need for grace and mercy that we could never sit in the judgment seat for others. I think we would be overwhelmed with gratitude. I think we as broken vessels would shine forth the light of the gospel. We would believe that God could transform anyone. We would not try to perform and win approval of others because we know we can’t. We would not be afraid to empower others to lead because if God can use me the worst sinner, He can use anyone. We would live a life of worship and gratitude because he came into the world to save sinners among whom I am the worst and in the greatest need of his unlimited patience, mercy and forgiveness.