As the year began, I was reminded of something Nehemiah said when he was nearing completion of his building project, the wall around Jerusalem—clearly a work God had called him to. In chapter six two men, who were feeling threatened by Nehemiah's success, requested he come to a meeting. But he saw through their invitation and instead replied, "I am about a great work and will not come down" (v. 3). My husband, Mike, and I like to repeat this quote when something or someone tugs at us that is clearly a distraction. These words pull us back to what God has called us to—the great task at hand and our unwavering commitment to it.
So what is "the great work" we are about in Japan? A2 Japan is committed to seeing disciples multiplied and developing reproducing leaders to start new congregations in many forms across Japan and spreading to Asia. It's that simple and worth every effort. Reading our missionaries' newsletters over the months tells me how each one is committed with unwavering resolve to this call. Nehemiah's "enemies" did all they could to distract, discourage, and basically scare him off, but he remained focused and finished the task. Later in chapter six, when these enemies (and all the nations around them) heard that the wall was finished, "they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God" (v. 16). While Nehemiah was faithful, it was obvious to all that God made it happen.
Now to the flip-side... I recently read in John Ortberg's book, Soul Keeping, that John met Dallas Willard and asked the question,
"What do I need to do to stay spiritually healthy?"
His reply was,
"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life."
John made a note and went on to ask,
and Dallas said,
"There is nothing else."
To some it may seem a contradiction to have an unwavering commitment to a great task and not get in a hurry about it. However. I am convinced that eliminating hurry is an essential part to staying focused and in lock-step with what God is doing. It also helps us to remain faithful to the end, until the task is accomplished.
May this be a year of laser-focus on being a faithful disciple of Christ, making multiplying disciples and developing reproducing leaders to start new congregations.
When distractions come (we all know they will!) remember Nehemiah's words, "I am about a great work and will not come down." When we see that needle move and even surpass the ambitious vision God has given—to see a million new believers and a thousand new Christ-communities, a thousand missionaries from Japan sent out across by 2020 and even beyond one pastor's vision to see 50,000 churches, equal to the number of convenience stores in Japan, we know it wasn't just due to our diligence. When those visions are fulfilled, may it be obvious to all that God made it happen!
For an unhurried and laser-focused 2015,
Mary Jo Wilson | VP for Japan
If you want to join our work in Japan, start here...