Hello again Brothers and Sisters!
This past Friday at our Shabe night, the discussion topic was identity. Some of the questions we discussed were what things we think make up our identity. Another question we discussed was “How do we discover our identity (by traveling, reflecting, by what people say about me, by comparing, etc.?”
One of my team members, Fitzy (it’s his nickname), was in my discussion group and we were both able to share part of our testimonies. I was able to share how in high school, I put my identity in my accomplishments in school and basketball. When God took these things away from me, I realized how much I turned those things into idols. I shared about how by reflecting I saw that if I put my identity in things of this world that easily change, then I can easily lose myself.
After that, we read Psalm 139:11-14. “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” We were able to have a good discussion about what these verses mean and how they affected the writer, David.
Both Fitzy and I talked about how David realized how much God loves Him and how God’s love for us does not change because God never changes. God also knows us, all the good things and the bad things about us (our dark side), but yet His love for us does not change. The two of us were also able to explain that if our identity is found in God and His love for us, then our identity will never change. Even as the world changes and people’s opinions of us change, God stays constant. One of the students, Ryoko, noted how God knows David’s dark side and loves him despite this. Another student Kei also said how he resonated with what I shared and how he has found his identity in soccer, school, and his accomplishments. He said that things like those can fade away but it is cool that you can always believe in God and come back to that when things change.
Kei then asked Fitzy and I if we ever doubt God’s love for us. Even though we should not have to doubt God’s love for us because it is unchanging, we said that we do because it’s true. We were able to share how both of us have experienced doubting God but we also explained how God’s love will never change so we can trust in His love. Kei is a fourth year student so he will be graduating from Chuo University soon. Because of this, he said that as you become an adult, it becomes harder to escape from the mistakes that you may make. But, he said it is interesting that you can put your identity in something that doesn’t change, like our identity in God.
That discussion was really good and brought me back to the Gospel in that God does know all of my sin, imperfections, and how often I doubt His sovereignty and love for me. But, yet in His grace, He has not only given me salvation but loves me with an unconditional love that will never change. It was a definite reminder of how gracious God was to point out how I made idols out of things and placed my identity in them instead of putting my identity in our unchanging, faithful God. God has been gracious to grow me since then and to remember the importance of finding my identity in Christ.
This is our Shabe group from last week! From left to right in a circle: Asuka, Kei, Allison hopped in the picture, Yoshi, Fitzy, Ryoko, and myself.
- Praise God for what He is doing in Japan in times like the one I just shared about. I have heard many other stories from my other teammates about how God is working to reach our Japanese friends. Praise God that He continues to graciously use us as His vessels to plant seeds when He could easily do His work without us.
- Continued prayer for my friends Nami and May as they continue to adjust to being in Japan as new Christians. Pray that they would continue to read the Word and be in prayer and find other believers that they can be accountable to and find fellowship with.
These are my friends Nami and May, respectively in the center and on the left is one of my team leaders, Kim, who is on staff at UCSD. God graciously brought all of us together and allowed Kim and I to witness God radically change Nami and May’s lives because of the Gospel this past year.
- Continued prayer for the hearts of these students. Pray that God would continue to work through my team and me to plant seeds and reach these students. The questions that they ask and comments that they make show that God has planted seeds and some of them seem very interested in God and who He is. Pray that God would continue to draw students to Himself and that He would be glorified.
- Continued prayer for Oshima camp this upcoming weekend. Pray that God would powerfully work through discussions, pair talks, and activities to reveal Himself to the students.
- Continued prayer for my team to get physical and spiritual rest this week before Oshima camp. Prayer that we would continue to love and serve one another and be unified as a team.
- Continued prayer for me to trust God in the work He is doing for the people of Japan and for me to trust that He is powerful to save those whom He wills to save.
Thank you again for reading, encouraging, and praying! You are all such a blessing from the Lord! Have a great rest of your week!