A Response

Here is a response to my last post, A Brunch, Tears, and the Question “Who will go?” .  I wanted to share it with everyone because this woman labored hard for the Gospel in Japan and attained much wisdom through her years of cross-cultural ministry to the second-largest unreached people group in the world, the Japanese.

Kimberly, I resonate with so much of what you wrote. Having spent 16 of the past 17 years in (or preparing to return to) Japan, and now re-adjusting to life in these United States, I’ve noticed some of the things you mentioned, both your observations of American Christian culture and your observations of our hearts.

When I returned to the States two summers ago for a year of Home Ministry Assignment, I attended my share of missions conferences, with the ladies’ brunches, dinners, etc. Some of them were decorated, but for the most part it was a missions theme, maps, globes, artifacts, etc. Then God re-directed me, and I am now married, living in the Midwest, and settling in to life here in the U.S.A. And I’ve experienced other types of brunches.

Shortly after our wedding, we planned a local wedding reception here at my husband’s home church, for people who hadn’t been able to travel South for our wedding. I really struggled with moving forward on the plans for it, and wondered why. If it had been in Japan, I would have jumped in with both feet to plan it, but here … what was the point?

Was anyone going to come to a church building for the first time? Was anyone going to hear the Word of God for the first time? Was there going to be ANY outreach woven into the event? EVERYthing our team does in Japan is to support the goal of a thriving, reproducing church planting movement. I find it hard to get motivated to help out in ministries here that don’t have such a specific and strategic purpose.

Recently our church was looking for people to help with a mother-daughter banquet. I asked a friend who grew up in the church what the purpose of the banquet is. She could not tell me. It turns out I’ll be out of town the day of the banquet, so I couldn’t help anyway, but I’m definitely trying to figure out how to get involved with ministries in the local American church, without compromising my desire to be involved in intentional ministry.

Last fall I attended two church women’s events in the area, and experienced culture shock, as I saw the magnitude of the decorations, favors, food, etc. The standard for “nice” seemed higher than necessary, or at least DISproportional to how much spiritual food was offered by the speakers. Shortly after one of the events, we were with another couple, when the husband asked his wife how the retreat had been. She hesitated, and said, “It was fun, with just enough Bible thrown in to make it a Christian meeting.”

 Your sister-in-law Maggie responded to your brunch blog, by writing that she has been “ruined for this world.

 What a privilege to be ruined for this world! I think it’s how Jesus wants His followers to be. And if He wants that, then I think it’s a guarantee that He will give grace for each step, on a path that seems so unfamiliar after we’ve grown up in a comfortable American lifestyle. Maggie writes that she is praying against a self-righteous critical spirit; that is the step where I almost always stumble. How sad is it that it’s so easy to want to do intentional, meaningful ministry like Christ did WITHOUT a heart of love for those around us?

Besides reading God’s word and spending time with Him, one thing that helps me see the blindspots of my comfort is to read blogs like yours and Maggie’s and to read biographies of saints who went before and gave up creature comforts in order to go to the ends of the world. You (and they) are my eyes and ears … a “show and tell” of sorts to move my eyes off of this little corner of America. Keep telling your story!


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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebecca
    May 19, 2011 @ 13:07:49

    Kimberly (and Judith),
    I could not have said it better! Ever since we returned a year and a half ago I have struggled. Struggled with what is around me, struggled with a critical spirit to it, to wanting to shout for people to wake up and see the world around them- not just their nice little bubble of a comfortable world, but the need and how grossly we are blessed and hoard it for ourselves. Thank you for sharing and encouraging me in my walk and figuring out how to do this here in the comfortable, where I may not want to be, but where I am called to be.

    Reply

  2. anonymous
    May 21, 2011 @ 02:46:20

    I appreciated your post, but did want to make a point.

    I love the city, and have a heart for mercy and justice ministry in my city. My church is also a very wealthy church filled with “those type of women” you wrote about with “those type of events…” and, I’ve come to notice in the two years I’ve lived here that there is just as much brokenness among those who outwardly look so put together as there is anywhere else. In fact, their wealth makes it even harder for them to see their own spiritual poverty. I have a heart for these women and for my “rich” church.
    Parts of your posts were convicting, but I also just felt judged. Judged for not moving my family to the other side of the world, or the inner city, and for living in my middle class neighboorhood. The Lord has a different story for all of us, and your story is different than those who have chosen to live in different places than you! The American church needs people who can humbly and compassionately give them a vision for something bigger, and encourage them out of their apathy- not judge them.
    I am praying that your heart is moved with compassion and love for your church and the women there.

    Reply

    • kimzhis
      May 31, 2011 @ 19:47:18

      Dear Anonymous,
      I have responded to some of your questions/challenges my most recent blog post, A confession and an Invitation. I really do appreciate the things you brought up, and agree wholeheartedly with you that I have no place to judge. May God grant me the grace to challenge the status quo without pointing fingers and condemning.

      -Kimberly

      Reply

  3. kimzhis
    May 26, 2011 @ 21:52:24

    Here is another response that my good friend (fellow seminary wife) sent me. It provides an added perspective to this issue of the role of the body.

    hey friend…
    I”ve been really thinking about your blog post about the women’s brunch. It’s been on my heart since you wrote it. I have struggled with the words you wrote. I love your heart for the lost. I get every word of the post you wrote. I get every word of the post Maggie wrote. When the Lord started working on my heart in college for the lost and the least of these, I knew I would never look at life the same. I felt uncomfortable around my old friends and life. I get it.
    However…. I would like to offer you a different perspective on things like the brunch. I’ve told you before that I struggled when we got down here. I was mad at (my husband), mad at God, hormonal and depressed. In my previous home, I had had a sense of purpose. I had a ministry to young moms and a great support network. Before that, before we moved to {previous city} I was a youth leader and had a great group of girls I was invested in. Each time we moved I felt like I was losing my identity and purpose. I was so fed up with it.
    Our first year was so hard here. I was so lonely. i kept trying to reach out to the other Christian women at our church, but no one seemed to care. I don’t know why… they just didn’t seem interested in a friendship with me. I heard them talk about reaching out to the lost… but I needed them to reach out to me too.
    I was at the point of entertaining suicidal thoughts. I had to fight every day to get out of bed. I resented {my husband}. I resented the kids. I resented those who called themselves Christians, but looked down on our family because we were financially strained and “not making wise choices” with our lives.
    My neighbor’s (who I told you about that always borrowed and even stole from us) were at our door everyday, multiple times a day. I tried to reach out to them.. share the gospel, offer life, but they used us. I was not connected in fellowship with anyone else to help me have perspective on any of this… so I began to resent the neighbors too.
    I met {another seminary wife} at one of the cook outs at RTS. She invited me to come to the final WiM dinner last year (much like the brunch this year)… I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t want to believe that someone cared. But I did go… and it was life changing. Hearing other stories from RTS wives and women got me out of this pit I had been in for a year. I was reminded that I was made for more. I was encouraged and refreshed like I’d never been before.
    One day I was at {mutual friend’s} house and she said in response to having people live with them, “it is good for my sanctification.” Community… is good for my sanctification.
    I hope this makes sense. I struggle with my calling in the kingdom. We have to have a balance between fellowship, outreach, worship, etc. If we go to any extreme, I think we miss out on the bigger picture. Although my heart aches for the lost… I have always felt more called to discipleship. There is a desperate Bible illiteracy in our churches today. More and more people are turning to pastor’s, books and motivational speakers than to the Source of Life. My heart is to train up and send out.

    I do love your heart and have been so blessed by your friendship this year. Thanks for being so open in your blog posts and your life.

    Reply

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