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by Nozomi Johnston

Jeff has been taking a Japanese class at the city office once a week. The classes are taught by volunteers, so it has not been a "formal" teaching, but he has kept at it in order to push himself to learn more Japanese. His tutor is a retired man.

Anyway, every year, the class puts on a "Bonenkai", which is an end-of-the-year-party. The word literally means to "forget the year", meaning you want to forget all the bad things that happened this past year, and start the new year off right.

At the end of the year, the students in the class are always asked to write a page, in Japanese, on various subjects. Then they make a booklet out of all the entries written by the students in the class. At the bonenkai party, they choose 3 people to get up front and read what they have written. This year's topic was "My Home Town", so Jeff wrote about Green Bay Wisconsin. He wrote about the various industries there, and talked about how delicious Wisconsin cheese is. And of course, he wrote about the Green Bay Packers, the team he has been cheering for ever since he can remember. He even got a Packers helmet when he was 3 years old, and wouldn't take it off even to eat his lunch:)

He ended his paper, though, by writing the fact that this concept of a "home town" is not really the material things that make the place meaningful. It's the people. He went on to explain that Jeff's true home in his heart is Jesus Christ. Jesus is "home" to Jeff because the Savior lives in his heart and is with him every single day. The paper ended with a Bible verse in Philippians 3:20:

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."

So Jeff handed in his paper with a prayer, "Lord, please use my paper as a testimony for YOU." He prayed this, thinking that it would be great if whoever reads it would hear a little about Jesus. Well, wouldn't you just know it...this year, he was asked to read his paper at the Bonenkai party in front of everyone!

The funny thing is, the person who asked had not yet read the paper. So after reading it, he says, "Hummm...maybe it's a bit too long..." Jeff couldn't quite tell if he meant that since it's "religious" that he should cut off the last part because it was "too long", or if it was really just too long. Solution: practice reading it FASTER in order to say the entire thing, Bible verse included:)

Needless to say, we all went to the party, and we were beaming with pride! I was SO proud of my husband! You know who else was beaming with pride? Jesus Himself. I bet He was so proud of his child who was willing to feel a little embarrassed and frazzled for the sake of speaking His Name, so that one more Japanese can hear the Name of their Savior in their own language.

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Jeff's column offers a mix of reflections on leadership and fatherhood, as well as news from Asian Access.


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Nozomi's column contains reflections on motherhood, Japanese culture, and ministry.


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