Update - May 2012


            As lush leaves cover the trees and corn fields surrounding Atlantic take on a hint of green, we are enamored with the beauty Iowa…and somehow at the same time, God continues to draw our hearts toward East Asia.  We greatly look forward to our future departure for Japan!  We pray it will come soon, and until that time comes we plan to enjoy an Iowa summer.  John has once again taken up the exciting task of leading a men’s softball team for our church, and I (Jo Beth) am taking great pleasure in spare moments to cultivate a tiny garden outside our back door—and what fun to have nieces and nephews living so close that they often go for walks right past the back porch!

It is good to be so near both of our families, especially as we think of leaving the U.S. soon.  “For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name” (Psalm 61:5).  What a blessing to have families who have taught us the love of Christ from our youth and who are supportive of our plans to minister overseas!  This has come to mind recently, especially as John’s mother Omuk recently shared some of her thoughts with us. 

“You know,” she told us, “I think it’s wonderful how God is working in your hearts to want to go to Japan to serve Him….”  She went on to explain some of John’s own heritage.  John’s South Korean grandfather, Geon Seong, was captured by Japanese soldiers around 1940 during the colonial era of S. Korea.  At the time, the area was occupied by Japanese soldiers—Koreans were supposed to speak only Japanese, and they were pressed to give up their valuables to Japanese soldiers.  Many of the men were taken away and placed in Japanese concentration camps, and John’s grandpa Geon, his father’s father, was one of these men.  He was gone for many months, then he was sent home to Korea just before he died.    

Though this is a tragic piece of our heritage, Omuk stressed to us the beauty of God’s grace in the situation.  After John’s mother and father moved to the USA in the 1970’s, Omuk was especially drawn by God’s love.  She came to know Jesus at 9:00am on April 16th, 1990 and has not forgotten the date or time!  Omuk’s love for others is evident, and she harbors no bitterness toward the Japanese.  She longs to see missionaries bring the good news of Christ to Japan, as they once did to S. Korea, and for Christ’s love to be poured out on this nation.  “And I think it’s just great that God would choose to use John, the grandson of a man who was captured by the Japanese, to show His grace and love to Japan—just like He loves us.” 

Thank you for supporting this process!  We are grateful for both our physical and spiritual heritage, to have so many loving family members who have ‘got our back’.  
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