26 February, 2014

Meetings galore, but not all boring

Annual Meetings
Part of Monday and most of Tuesday I spent at JEMA (Japan Evangelical Missionary Association) annual meetings. This is the organisation that publishes Japan Harvest, the magazine I edit. They also run the various intermission events that I've gone to, like the Women's Retreat in March, and women's prayer days in January and October.

As a result of being involved in these various gatherings, I'm gradually getting to know some female missionaries. I rarely see the men, though, unless they have connections with CAJ. Going to the meetings earlier this week was an opportunity to meet and network with people I don't normally see, especially men. What's funny is how different someone can be to their writing. Most of the time I "meet" people via an email and something they've written for the magazine. Meeting them face-to-face is quite a different affair.

My view from the "floor" of the meeting for over
four hours yesterday.
One missionary I met yesterday wrote a series of articles for the magazine a couple of years ago. I really struggled with her style, it didn't communicate well. I groaned when I knew I needed to work on a new article of hers and had to do a lot of work to get her articles into shape for publication. However, meeting her in person, I found her to be very personable.

JEMA is an interesting organisation. It is a voluntary gathering of evangelical mission agencies (and independent missionaries). Its mission statement is: "Networking and equipping our  members to make disciples for Christ." We heard yesterday that they have 41 member agencies, and a total of 886 missionaries. It isn't known how many evangelical Christian missionaries there are in Japan, but probably more than twice that number.

I wonder if there are other countries that have such organisations?

Annual meetings aren't my thing, yesterday I cross-stitched my way through the hours of sitting and listening, it helped me sit still and listen better. I like meetings that small and very focused on action. However I must say that I was not coerced to go to these meetings. They were useful for networking, as I've already said, but also for finding out a little more about what's going on out there in the mission world in Japan.

For example, we heard from

  • http://the4points.jp who are doing some exciting things in media, flash mobs, and with youth to get the gospel out.
  • the 4 to 14 window focusing churches and parachurch organisations' attention on children from the age of 4 to 14, a key age for making a decision for Christ
  • Global Outreach Day, which is more a week, in June coordinating with many other countries in evangelism and encouraging people to be creative and bold
  • Billy Graham Evangelical Association is very active in Japan. In fact two of the families in our youngest son's class are with this association.
  • man who was a former Yakuza (Japanese gangster) gave his testimony and we heard a little about the film missionaries here (friends of mine) are making based on his and another former gangster's life, called 2 Criminals.

All exciting stuff! I'm glad to be a part of it. 

We also heard that the number of churches in Japan is decreasing, sadly. There are 7,238 churches in Japan, less than the number of post offices (24,000) and convenience stores (43,000). In a land of 127,000,000 people, 127,000 churches would be more realistic, if this land were to be fully reached. 

Personal planning again
I got to have lunch with my husband at this coffee shop
and am looking forward to a lot more lunches with
him during our year in Australia.
Today it would have been good to have a catch-up day, because I have several other projects that need my attention. 

However, David and I had already booked today as a home assignment preparation day (we had one earlier in the month too). He took a day of and we worked together to prepare for home assignment. We achieved quite a lot, more than if we'd just trundled along doing bits and pieces here and there in our spare time.

The most exciting thing is that we've gotten to the point of booking holiday accommodation for when we arrive in Australia. Next will be plane tickets. We're also negotiating for some people to housesit for us while we're away (not fixed yet, we're still working out details and getting permission). Still, after thinking about these things for a long time, we're finally getting to the stage of action. Yay!

Over lunch we got to thinking about what we might do, aside from deputation and meeting people. I'm keen to do some writing and editing courses or workshops. David's thinking about a few different ideas, so we'll see what he comes up with. I love new possibilities.

I also love brainstorming, coming up with ideas and then seeing them realised (though it's often most fun if someone else implements my ideas). Here's a couple from today:

  1. One idea of mine that might be completed by someone else, is a fun game about recycling in Japan. Our eldest son is into making up board/card games and so we've asked him to think about what might be possible. 
  2. But my personal project has been planning a photo book to take around with us on deputation that covers the last four years. I've brainstormed this one and now plans are coming together for this and I'm really excited!

Ah, lots of things going on! I've got a Writer's Workshop next week to plan for tomorrow, along with ongoing editing responsibilities to keep on top of. It's a busy week! But next week I'll be away from the responsibilities of home for five days (Writer's Workshop followed by the JEMA Women's Retreat), so hopefully that will be refreshing.


Jay Kay said...

Hi Wendy, will you all be coming through Perth while you're in Australia? Would love to meet up with your whole family if you end up passing through this side of the country when you're back.
Jason (WPC Bullcreek)

Wendy said...

Yes, we're planning to come over to Perth. Not exactly sure when, yet.