I just got off the phone with Nobuyoshi Nagai, Takeshi Takazawa, and John Houlette, the planning committee for our pastors retreat in Japan. It was the last of our conference calls before our two retreats next week. The flyer above has been promoting CHC’s retreat throughout northern Japan to local pastors. We leave Friday for Miyagi.
When I asked who they would like to have as a speaker for this retreat, I was thinking about a prominent pastor/author from Japan or the West. Their response came as a surprise to me: a pastor from Haiti. In a culture that is hyper-conscious of outsiders and socioeconomic status, this is an unheard of request – and one we were thrilled to accommodate. We’re honored to be bringing Pastor Jean Dorlus from Haiti to share his testimony of God’s love and faithfulness in the aftermath of the earthquake.
God forgive me for being surprised at how much He wants to use churches in Haiti to help churches in Japan. First the Haitian offering, and now this. After all, it’s the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV)” According to this passage, Haiti may be one of the best candidates “to comfort those who are in any affliction” as they have received rushing rivers of God’s comfort over the past 17 months.
Because of the splintered efforts to bring aid in northern Japan, pastors frequently ask that people would just work together. So a distinctive of these retreats is the concerted effort between 8 organizations. We’re humbled to be a part of that.
With the experience of nine Haitian CHP retreats and the vital input of our planning team, we have been able to customize our next CHP retreats to best meet the needs of the Japanese tsunami survivors. With smaller numbers – less than 1% of the population is Christian – we will be able to minister to both pastors and their wives. We’re especially excited about the implications of ministering to the family unit, which is an important dynamic in Japanese culture. In Haiti, we had so many pastors and so many churches, this simply wasn’t an option.
Much of our retreat will specifically focus on helping our pastors “get vertical” again: existing to elevate, honor and glorify Jesus Christ. The retreat will help them consider God’s sovereign purposes for the trials they have faced and are facing, and how they can be used for His ultimate glory, as God’s word assures us they will:
“You have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
The retreat will also serve as a fact-finding mission for CHP – identifying the needs, cultural sensitivities, and opportunities for our participants, so we can best serve the Japanese Church in the months and years to come.
I’ll be updating the blog as often as possible during our travels. Thanks in advance for praying for our team and the pastors we will be serving in the coming weeks.
(Note: CHC was planning to head to Haiti early this month for a new building project, but due to customs delays, we’ll resume that project at the end of the month when customs clears for us. Please pray for a quick release.)Tags: Churches Helping Pastors, Counseling, JA01, Japan