At age 33 now I write this, sensing the wild culmination of all that has led up to today and thinking about who will take the torch of discipleship for this next decade. You all face something I never did, and will need to adapt to a totally new wild climate of mental anarchy that is both better and worse than that of 2001-2011.
My mistakes were many but the miracles so numerous it’s difficult to even know where to start. The coolest and most important factor however has been the faithfulness of God to always answer as long as I was seeking Him. The Enemy tries to lie to you and say you’re not worthy of finding His answers on a daily basis. He’ll say you’re too much of a mess, and that’s ok. That’s his job. Your job as a son or daughter of the King is you get to face him in the court and use the blood of Jesus to turn around and put him on the hot seat, and then finally under your boot (or high heel!)
THE ROAD TO JAPAN:
Discipleship began in the heart, daily seeking after God and fudging the system of the world (although still operating under its armpit from high school to university). After seeing the way most of my classmates and peers were descending into the drug/party scene I latched on to Japanese culture, finding their over-studious and artistic ways and traditions a welcome alternative. Along the way the miracles were ultra personalized. You have the Word of God at hand at all times and you find God talks to you through it. It’s supposed to be our sword and our shield so the vision was like the game Castlevania where we are armed to the teeth storming the Enemy’s stronghold and hunting vampires and demons wherever we go.
The Japanese are actually far less pagan in the witchy sense of the word than you might think, and having a constant interaction with them made it a lot easier to see things in a different light than that of the American West, where Atheism and outright Witchcraft prevail.
To this day I still don’t know what the whole purpose of the Japanese influence was but I could go on for miles talking about what the Lord did from day 1 concerning her. It was all thanks to my father and his connection with a famous Japanese conductor named Akira Endo, who invited me to stay with he and his wife for a few days learning Japanese, eating home made ramen noodles and watching Japanese movies. After that I was hooked, and the blessings just rolled in. When you first become a Christian expect God to give you a sort of honeymoon, as you seek his face. Everywhere I went people were giving me Japanese books, and most of all the miracles were ultra super sweet. There was a day at age 17 when I was beginning to question this and the Lord made it abundantly clear that indeed this was his will.
After working at a Japanese restaurant I went to the Vanderbilt Library in Naples to do some language study, but on the way there I questioned inside my heart praying “Jesus help me study this language, as you know it’s not easy . . . but it’s your will for me to study it. . . right?” and I pulled into the library. It happened to be closed early on Friday but something made me pull in all the way anyway, and I there in the front of the library looking somewhat bewildered was a short older Asian lady. I took my chances and walked up to the where she was standing and was like, “hey look at this the Library is closed to so early!” and she said “oh, you is read Japanese? I am Japanese person, I am teacher, I teach you!”
So anyway that’s basically how I met my Japanese tutor who taught me for the next 4 months until the Rotary club accepted me as an exchange student. Ya know, just another typical miracle. But the catch was what happened next – I was invited to go to her home right away, so I went into my car and waited for her to drive to her condo. Then there on the floor I saw a Bible verse written on a notecard that my sister Heili had dropped out of her notebook lying there (we usually drove to Naples High together).
“He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.”
“It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
So then there I was, reading this exact verse which was handwritten in Heili’s beautiful cursive while waiting for my new Japanese teacher to bring me to her house. The amazing thing was, I had not even finished my prayer on the way to the Library but the Lord had already given me the answer. He was basically giving me the green light on pushing the Japanese thing which was a major important milestone in my life and walk with Him.