What if we were as committed to Church as we are to the Cubs?
BY KEITH CARLSON, PASTOR OF OUTREACH & CARE
I love that the loveable loser Cubs won the World Series. The big “W” is a great story this year in the midst of lots of anxiety-inducing news. When I was reading about Chicago’s big victory, one line caught my attention about the Cubs fanatically loyal fan base. An author said Cubs fans have stuck with their team through “thick and thin, no matter what.” It’s true, despite years of heartbreak, disagreeable decisions, errors, strike outs, misplaced expectations, and fan interference, Cubs commitment trumps all.
Why is it so easy for people to consider leaving a church when they are disappointed?
It got me thinking, why don’t we have that same commitment to the Church? Why do I so easily overlook management miscues for my favorite team, but not so much for the Church? Why is it so easy for people to consider leaving a church when they are disappointed?
I wish we could learn a lesson from our Grace missionaries to Japan. Steve and Janet Kunnecke have served as vocational missionaries in Japan since January, 1982! They have truly served God’s Church through thick and thin, no matter what, helping to build the Church in Japan, where less than 1% of Japanese are Christians. Missionaries in Japan serve a lifetime, and some only see a handful of people surrender their lives to Jesus. But they continue on because they believe in God’s mission through the Church.
And now Grace Church is sending our second vocational missionary to Japan, Shigeko Yamaguma! Shigeko grew up in Japan in a traditional Japanese family. She came to the US for a Master of International Management degree, and then stayed to work for the automotive industry for 20 years. She was introduced to Jesus through a Japanese pastor in the US. As she wrestled with her calling, she served one year in Londrina, Brazil working with ex-patriot Japanese. But she realized that her calling was more specific, and more long-term. She was supposed to go back to her people in Japan and introduce them to Jesus. She admits that moving back to Japan as a missionary was the last thing she expected to be doing, but God made it clear to her that is exactly her calling.
Shigeko is committed to building the Church of Japan, no matter how hard it is. You may not know, but Shigeko prays over every seat in the Grace Church 146th Street South Auditorium on Saturday afternoon before our weekend services. Let’s commit to returning this gift, and commit to praying and funding Shigeko so she can move to Japan. She just received her Certificate of Eligibility for her Japanese visa. But she is still short in her funding. She has only a few monthly commitments to go before she can move, hopefully on December 1. Let’s send her to build the Church of Japan!