When the speaker asked for volunteers for missionary service, I was on my feet in an instant. Of course I wanted to be a missionary! That's why I wasn't dating this year, my senior year at Multnomah School of the Bible. I didn't want any romantic entanglements to get in the way of my going to Japan and telling people about Jesus.
Standing up and going forward was really just a formality. I had already offered myself to the Lord for missionary service; I'd reminded the Lord of my availability numerous times.
It was just coincidental that my family lived in Japan, that I had spent six years there, had come to know the Lord there, that I missed sushi, straw mat floors, misty blue outlines of tiered hills beyond the rice paddies, shopkeepers sprinkling water on unpaved streets to keep the dust down, men on bicycles, little girls jumping rope with littler girls bobbing on their backs.
When I found Christ, I knew I needed to take time out to get to know more about Him. I would have gone to Bible school in Japan, but the Lord directed me instead to Portland, Oregon.
This meant flying alone at age 20 from Tokyo to a country I had not lived in since I was seven. I remember approaching Los Angeles, looking down at all the swimming pools, and thinking, I would never want to live there!
I knew no one on the entire west coast of the United States. In fact, the only person I knew on the mainland lived in Ohio. But I knew the Lord and that was sufficient.
I had been at school several days when He began to pressure me.
It's such a little thing, Lord, I said. So I still have my watch set to Japan time, so what? It helps me pray for the people I know there.
The Lord kept convicting.
But I'll be flying back at the end of the year, I reasoned with Him.
He wasn't impressed.
OK, Lord, I'll change it. I capitulated and then I knew why He'd insisted. He wanted me in Portland. All of me.
He waited until I was settled and well into the school year before He gently revealed to me that I would not be staying one year, but all three. I was going to graduate.
Graduate and return to Japan, of course, I thought. Where the Lord was silent, I filled in the blanks with my own assumptions.
(To be continued)
Today I am grateful for the Bible.