On July 22, Asian Access missionary Dr. John Houlette received the Office Fujikake Award for the Japanese version of his book, Resilience: How Japanese Pastors Can Thrive in Every Season. The award is given annually to a new book in Christian counseling by Dr. Akira Fujikake, clinical psychologist, and visiting Professor at the Seigakuin University General Research Institute.
My friend John, an avid runner, pulls from Scripture, personal experience, and interviews with Japanese pastors and leaders to construct and articulate a four seasons model for leaders. The author cleverly defines these four seasons as Departing, Arriving, Leading and Finishing Well in life and ministry. The majority of John's life has been spent in Japan, so it’s not surprising that the key voices throughout the book are Japanese.
Beyond the obvious application for established leaders and pastors in Japan, this book is a helpful training resource for those considering ministry in East Asia.
Water Stations Along the Journey
As a runner myself, I was struck by this passage:
“Marathon runners utilize water stations to quench their thirst just as a pastor finds ways to restore his vitality. There are many ‘water stations’ along the journey; we need to find and use them to finish well” (page 13).
There have been times on a long run when I did not adequately hydrate along the way. I was running along, having a good time, and before I knew it, I was walking, dehydrated, and hoping I would make it home without having to call someone to pick me up. John's book provides practical help to find the rest stations we need in our ministry life—to help us finish well and not be another casualty of the stress, pressures, and temptations of ministry.
A Career Encore
He also explores the idea of a “career encore.” In the model of passing the baton, the runner who lets go of the baton stops running. This is in stark contrast to the performer being called back on stage for one more song even though the concert is over. "Resilience" reminds me of the importance of being a lifelong learner and encourages me to already be considering what my contribution could be after I retire, which is hopefully 20 to 30 years away for me.
Our missionary team in Japan is proud of John and celebrates him receiving this well-earned recognition. If you are currently serving in Japan or hope to in the future, I strongly recommend "Resilience: How Japanese Pastors Can Thrive in Every Season” as a travel guide on your journey.
Robert Adair serves in Miyagi Prefecture through a partnership with Shiogama Bible Baptist Church and as the Missionary Director for Asian Access in Japan. Robert & Roberta have four energetic boys and enjoy spending time in the mountains.
- Cover image: John Houlette pictured with 2021 winner, Rev. Nobuyuki Toyoda, pastor of New Life Christ Church in Osaka and a graduate of Asian Access (left) and with Dr. Akira Fujikake (right), founder of the award.
- Buy the book “Resilience” here...
- John Houlette’s staff profile...
- Joe Handley's book review
- John Houlette's blog post: Water Please!