I hadn’t realized that Japan is an unknown place for me not until I came here. It’s been over three months living in this country and there are many things I’ve learned and to learn. This time not as a merely head knowledge but to put everything into practice.
Having said this, I want to highlight first this verse in the Bible which speaks to me these days, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). This verse doesn’t say that we are saved through good works but we are saved by grace through faith alone which result to good works. Faith spurs us on to obedience in Christ and applying it into action. We have to sustain our faith in God not just by our head belief but in our daily dependence through digging deeper on His Word and listening to His will for us. The Bible tells us that it’s impossible for us to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). Pleasing God happens when we have faith and again, do our part. Our walk of faith is a life-long journey and wherever God has placed us, we have to cultivate, nurture and sustain it even in times of the unknown circumstances in our lives.
This becomes so real to me when I moved to Japan. When everything gets so busy at work and other priorities in life, there’s a tendency to think that everything goes well and convenient. But Jesus has been speaking to me about having faith in Him that sustains, faith that is productive, faith that is profitable. It is faith that other people and those around me will see. Faith that bears much fruit. Faith that allows me to learn, to grow and to welcome challenges as opportunities to be a better servant of God.
As I mentioned above, Japan became an unknown place to me not until I came here. As some may know that I had been praying for what my life right now to happen. Others had wondered why I desired to come to Japan and jokingly asked if I did see the word “Japan” in the Bible. But it might be a long testimony to tell. I just know right now that I earnestly prayed this to God, “May Your desires be my desire LORD.” Truly, God is always faithful, has been faithful and will forever be faithful to His abundant ways and plans for us.
Because of this desire to come and live in Japan, God led me to work in Cebu and be exposed to Japanese culture through meeting Japanese students. I learned many things about how people in Japan are so disciplined, so polite, how they care about the society, and so on. But those things were solely sort of information I knew because I didn’t have to practice at all. So, from the moment I stepped out from the plane upon arrival, I have to apply those learnings and from then on, put them into a daily way of life.
Let me share three of the many things I’ve learned about living for three months in Japan and the Biblical principle behind:
- Presence of Mind. Stay focused. This is what I also remind myself everyday. The do’s and don’ts in Japan. Respect and bowing anywhere, anytime. Greeting to others like to co-workers, students and even to people you don’t know (staff in the convenience store, shops and to people on the road; bikers or vehicle drivers). In general, the Lord wants us to be focused in Him and in everything we do, not having a distracted heart and spirit.
*”Be alert and be sober-minded.” – 1 Peter 5:8
- Self-Discipline.Being disciplined comes in many aspects of life. But living in Japan society also involves moral discipline. One great thing I’ve learned is being disciplined in punctuality and keeping with time schedule. Another thing is being disciplined in disposing our trash. Haha! Believe it or not, there are 8 types and 11 categories in separating the garbages here. For the first few days, it was so hard where to dispose each garbage and what category it belongs. You have to be detailed in throwing the garbage like a plastic bottle of drink, you have to clean it up first then separate them into 3 categories of garbage cans. Anyway, there are many other things aside from these. Maybe in a different entry!
However, moral discipline follows when you are spiritually-disciplined above all!
* “For the Spirit of God does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self- discipline.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
- Be Diligent. No to laziness.I think many people are aware about how Japanese are hard-working and dedicated at work. But I come to learn that it’s not only in the workplace but also at all times, in any places. Even in my personal life, I have to be diligent in many things: studying Japanese (which I should do though it’s hard), household chores, ministry commitments, and in spending time with God.
* “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” – Luke 16:10
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” -Proverbs 10:4
Many things to say but the main learning nugget here is to “Turn our knowledge into wisdom.” People in general act with what they believe. If we believe a gas stove top is hot, we don’t place our hands on it. If we believe that exercising is essential for our health, we do it. The actions that result from our faith are no different from those that result from other of our beliefs. If we truly believe God is, who He says He is and His Word means what it says, we act accordingly. And when God is calling us to a place of the unknown, to do the unusual thing, to do the counter-cultural thing, we need to be anchored in the One who sustains our faith and helps us grow only by His sustaining grace!