Hello friends and supporters of Japan Missions! We have an important announcement to share with you today: Effective July, 2019, we are going to be relocating to the United States after 8.5 years in Japan.
Perhaps a surprise to some (yet a surprise to us) but this is the Lord’s work, and we wanted to give you a short summary of this season.
Just before Christmas 2018, we received a phone call from our sending church pastors Jack and Joyce, asking us to consider returning to River of Life Fellowship (our home church in the USA) to fulfill the role of Administrative Pastor to succeed Pastor Bill Bochsler, who is going to be retiring after decades of service to River of Life. It was explained to us that Pastor Jack and Joyce were convinced in the Spirit it should be me who was to assume that position.
We prayed and sought the Lord through many tears, shocked by this sudden shift. But after only a few days (another surprise), we heard the confirmation of the Lord and felt a peace that surpassed our understanding to return home. We had just renewed our visa in Japan for 5 more years; we had just signed a 5-year housing contract; we had just implemented a church-wide discipleship program. So many things in the natural pointed to a longer stay, but the Lord has need of us in another place for another season.
So I will be fulfilling that role as Administrative Pastor, working alongside Pastor Jack and Joyce, starting in July. Tracy will also be on staff at The River when we return, serving in both Children's Ministries and as Church Event Coordinator.
As it was when we left to go to Japan, our response to God has not changed: “Thy will be done.” We have learned more than ever that being a friend to Jesus is more than just a warm intimacy--Jesus told His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15:14). We desire to be in His perfect will, and we believe that this timing is—despite what may seem contrary—what God needs from us in this hour.
This is not an easy transition emotionally for many reasons: deep relationships have been built with the Japanese church, trust has been gained, much has been invested. But despite all of our best efforts, what matters most is obedience and trusting the Lord. The church is His, so when He calls us to do anything, the responsibility of success falls to Him. We simply move forward with our eyes fixed. We hope you as our long-standing friends and supporters can see what the Lord has done through all of us working together in this time in Japan.
We want to express our deepest thank you, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for what you have done, many of you supporting since before we even left the shores of the USA. We are eternally grateful that you have stepped out to sacrifice and give of yourselves financially, in prayer, and in encouraging words to meet the needs of the Japanese.
We have a few prayer requests regarding this transition:
- That God would supply every need of Munakata Bethel Christian Center in Japan;
- That the succeeding pastor would far surpass the work we have done;
- That the church here would grow in faith as a result of this shift;
- That the physical move would be smooth;
- That all financial needs would be met;
- That Pastor Bill’s transition into retirement would be smooth;
- That our return to River of Life as staff would be effective and powerful; and that we may employ all that we have learned in Japan for God’s continuing service in the USA.
We will be also reunited with our oldest daughter, Sophie. It will be hard to leave Japan but a joy to be together again after more than two years of separation as a family.
Thank you one and all, from the bottom of our hearts. We love you, we are grateful. Your support and encouragement has made many wonderful things possible.
Thank you most of all to our two sets of pastor “parents,” Nils and Andrea Olson and Jack and Joyce Holt.
We are blessed that you have entrusted much to us, and we pray that we have honored you and the Lord in our best efforts. We are indeed grateful to these precious people, as well as our board members both in Japan and in the USA. Endless amounts of help was given to help establish us in Japan, and we will never forget it. God bless you!
Jim, Tracy, Serena, Sophie Xavier
This is only a small handful of photos taken in the last couple of years. No possible way to share so many years of memories here in this page, but to give you an idea of the love found in the church in Japan, please enjoy these photos!