Dec 2014 / Jan 2015 Update


Happy New Year!


Decorating Christmas cookies with our language teachers

John here.  It’s hard to believe that one year ago we were packing our suitcases and saying goodbyes.  Our hearts were full of the ripe anticipation of finally departing for Japan—ready to carry the light of the gospel into the dark corners of this nation.  For me, one word has been uniquely challenging, convicting, encouraging and empowering: dependence.

Last spring, not long after we arrived, our team had the privilege of hosting a prayer team consisting of various leaders from within the ReachGlobal community.  Reaching the end of their time with us, they prayed for each member of our team.  The word “dependence” resonated among each of the prayers as I listened—surprised and introspective.  Exemplified in the closing prayer “May John come to understand what it means when you say, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’”

Initially, I was shocked and perplexed.  I would have liked to hear something more like wisdom, power, or fruitfulness, but as I felt the heart-crushing weight of the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin, I slowly accepted the reality that the Lord was working to reveal the rat’s nest of self-righteousness that kept me from “remaining in Him.”  When that mess played itself out in life and ministry, it looked like grasping for achievement in the areas of discernment and prayer where, in reality, we are completely hopeless apart from the Lord’s grace.  The most frightening part of it all was that I had no idea what was going on in my own heart until God intervened and opened my eyes to it!

It wasn’t an easy recovery; it was rocky at best.  Over the course of several months, I felt spiritually crippled because of my awareness to my innate lack of dependence.  Yet, the Lord was gracious to me as He taught me to enjoy His presence in silence and solitude, to pray with a listening heart—even on the bustling trains--and minister with confidence in His desire glorify Himself in Tokyo.  I emerged from the doldrums exhausted but renewed, weak but full of faith.

During the past month, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on our first year in full-time ministry.  Though we see that that Lord has used us in many ways as we crossed paths with our language teachers, Japanese friends and co-workers in the gospel, I now see more clearly than ever the power of the gospel at work in my own life. The hopeful reality is that if God can use this broken jar of clay, He can certainly glorify Himself in bringing salvation to and through Tokyo.  We move forward into the New Year clinging more tightly than ever to Jesus’ words:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”

- John 15:5

By His grace, John & Jo Beth Lee

Celebrating Christmas with our new friends, Aoba & Hideki

Celebrating six grace-filled years of marriage together!

prayYamanote Facebook Group

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