For those of you who don't know, my twin brother, Mark Wolter, is a missionary in Kyoto, Japan. Check out this video below to see a bit of his world. I got the opportunity to visit Kyoto back when Mark and Maki got married. It was amazing to see my brother speak the language and interact so well with the people. I'll never forget him going through a drive-thru at a Japanese burger joint and ordering our food in Japanese. It was pretty crazy! Please pray for him and his wife, Maki, and two sons, Noah and Taka. I miss these guys!
Dr. Tom Nettles, widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America, recently gave two messages on the lives of William Carey and Adoniram Judson. Tom is a member of my church and one of the most humble servants you'll ever meet. These "character sketches" will encourage you and inspire you. Character Sketch: William Carey
Character Sketch: Adoniram Judson
My twin brother, Mark Wolter, on his 10th anniversary of serving in Japan: September marks ten years since I first came to Japan. It is amazing to think about all the Lord has done since I first came here as a naive 24 year-old foreigner. Though we may not see all of what God has done in those ten years, it is enough to know that He continually has given me a heart and a love for the precious people of Japan, and that it is a pleasure to give my life away for them every day.
More than 99% of Japanese are like sheep without a shepherd, going about life trying to find the best way, and yet lost, and starving, and dying. Every day more and more are suffering and dying. They do not know the wonderful food - the love, peace, and joy of God that surpasses all understanding, both in greatness and in duration. It is my longing for my dear brothers and sisters in Japan to know that, and to know Him personally. Please pray with me that they would; that their eyes would be open and that they would seek and find God through Christ Jesus.
Thanks to all of you who support my brother prayerfully and financially. If you'd like to learn more about how you can partner with Mark and Maki and/or receive their email updates, email me at dwolterATlagrangebaptist.com.
Kellie Shramek recommends, From Akebu to Zapotec: A Book of Bibleless Peoples, a resource that is sure to inspire families to have a greater heart for the world:
I picked up this book a while back and [my daughter] Lucy and I just love it. Each page highlights a different people group from all over the world. It has beautiful pictures and shares a little bit about their daily life. It also has a world map at the beginning so you can see where they live. Every page ends with “these people do not have a Bible in their language”. Lucy and I then pray that they could have access to the Word of God. This is the second edition and most of the people from the first book have Bibles in their own language now- in a big part thanks to the people who put it out and all the children who prayed that they too could have the Word of Life!
Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC's Internation Missions Board, and missiologist Ed Stetzger have teamed up to write a new book called, Spiritual Warfare and Missions. In a recent interview, Rankin laid out the premise of this book:
The whole point [of the book] is not to deal with demon possession, territorial spirits and generational bondage, but to recognize the battle within our own heart of lies and how Satan seeks to defeat us and deter us from the missions task.
Rankin goes on to describe some of Satan's strategies in deterring us from the Great Commission:
The strategy that is working is Satan deceiving the church to be ingrown and self-centered, which is characteristic of our churches today. Satan has led us to selectively interpret the scripture to erode the authority of God’s word and therefore lose any impetus for our global evangelism task. The strategy distorts in the minds of believers that the call to missions is only for an elite segment that is called to be missionaries rather than recognizing that it is a mandate to the church and the people of God.
Ironically, I just had a conversation with my twin brother about this very same issue. Mark serves with his wife Maki as missionaries in Japan, and his heart has been burdened recently with the reality of spiritual warfare in reaching the world for Christ. He plans to speak on this issue at various churches (including mine) this summer on his 6 week furlough.
Michael Oh spoke at the 2009 Desiring God Conference for Pastors about his vision to reach Japan for Jesus. Some of you know my twin brother, Mark Wolter, and his family are missionaries in Kyoto, Japan. Please pray for them and consider joining God's work in Japan. As mentioned in the video, the Protestant population of Japan is about .2%, with a total population of around 186 million. Japan needs Jesus, and needs your prayers.
LBC members: Mark and his family will be coming to speak our church, Lord willing, on August 15th. He appreciates all of your prayers and support and would love to see you all this summer.
Mission is not one thing we do among others. Mission is central to the Bible story and central to our identity. We are missionary people. We are communities on mission.
Creation: God made humanity with a mission: (1) to fill and govern the earth, and (2) to be his image in the world, reflecting his glory. We create, we explore, we investigate, we cook, we clean, we repair, we do science and culture and art – all to the glory of God.
Fall: After our rebellion our mission distorts and turns inwards. At Babel humanity (1) comes together instead of being scattered (2) to a name for themselves instead of glorifying God (Genesis 11:4).
Abraham: ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ (Genesis 12:3) God chooses Abraham for the nations. The Saviour will come from Abraham’s descendants. See Genesis 18:18-19. The nations will be blessed as God’s people walk in his ways and ‘do’ justice. People will look on and see it is good to know God.
Exodus: ‘Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:5-6) Priests made God known and brought people to God through sacrifice. In the same way, the nation is to make God known. They are to be holy (distinctive) as God is holy – the place on earth where people could see what God is like. See also Deuteronomy 4:5-8. So the law has a missional goal: to shape the life of Israel so the nations are drawn to God.
Israel: ‘Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom’ (1 Kings 4:34). But ultimately Israel follows the ways of the nations and is drawn away from God instead of following the ways of God and drawing the nations to God.
Prophecy: See Isaiah 2:2-5 (60:1-3). One day the nations will stream to Mount Zion in Jerusalem to learn God’s ways as God’s people walk in his light. The ‘servant of the Lord’ will be light to the nations that Israel had failed to be (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6).
Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12).
The church: Because Jesus has been given authority over the nations, he sends his disciples out to call on the nations to submit to that authority (Matthew 28:18-20). See Matthew 5:13-16. The rag-bag community of Jesus is to be the light to the world that Israel failed to be, the city on a hill promised by Isaiah. so ‘let your light shine before men’ and bring praise to God. See 1 Peter 2:9. The church is now the kingdom of priests and holy nation which makes God known to the nations. So ‘live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’ (12).
New creation: People from all nations worship the Lamb together and find healing in the new creation (Revelation 7:9-10; 22:2).
Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming the good news of God’s coming kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). But people don’t believe God’s rule is good news. They think they’re better off without God. We believe the Serpent’s lie that God’s rule is oppressive and restrictive (Genesis 3:5). We are to so live together under God’s reign that people see that God’s reign is good news, a reign of life, love, freedom, justice and joy.
The video above was made by Rudy Vaughan of LBC
How do you deal with being so far away from family and friends?
I am still trying to figure that one out! I thought that after over nine years in Japan that I would be used to being away from family and friends. I am not. I think this is just one cross that I am called to bear for the glory of God. And that is exactly how I fight the temptation to go back to the states... I recall that my desire and goal is the glory of God and not in temporary comfort and ease. As with all Christians, my real home is heaven, not America.
What are you believing God to do through you and Maki in the coming years?
We are believing that God will use us to raise up young people who can be great leaders for Japan's future. In many ways we are like the scaffolding for the building. It isn't a very glamorous job, but we are happy to do and it have many faithful - faith-filled people joining with us in prayer and support.
How can we pray for you and partner with you in reaching Japan for Christ?
I'm glad you asked, because we can't do anything without a team! For most people, we will not continue in laborious, passionate prayer unless we are economically tied to a mission. I encourage everyone who is able, to give even a little bit of one's money or resources away to a foreign mission or missionary in order to really engage in a meaningful way. We need personal engagement through finances, encouragement and prayer. More than specific prayers, we need prayers of faith and prayers of passion to move the Father's heart. It will take many miracles to change Japan and get Japan above 1% Christian. We are so appreciative to all of our state-side friends who sacrifice for God's kingdom right along with us!
Thanks for your words, Mark. May God bless you and your family and your gospel witness in Japan.
Many of you know that I have a twin brother who serves as a missionary in Japan. He is married to his beautiful wife, Maki, and they have 2 little boys, Noah and Taka. I thought it would be fun to do an interview with Mark so you can get to know more about his ministry in Japan. I encourage you to ask Mark a question or give him a word of encouragement in the comments section below ... How did God lead you to become a missionary, specifically in Japan?
Divine intervention. No, seriously, I wouldn't be where I am today without some profound things happening in my life - without God working powerfully. Growing up, I never dreamed of living overseas or becoming a missionary. I wasn't interested in "manga" or Japanese culture whatsoever. However, as God changed my heart and life during college, and as I grew in Him and in my knowledge of His will as revealed in the Bible, I wanted to share that with others. God's heart for the nations, and the need here, was something I could not get around. God finally showed me that in following Him, wherever He would lead, would be the place of greatest blessing and joy. My specific calling came while reading and praying over Isaiah 58:10-12 back in 2002.
What does a typical week of ministry look like for you?
After coming to Japan I realized that I had an overly romantic view of the situation. Being a missionary means that my aim is to bring the gospel to a lesser reached area of the world. The strategies and means we use differ from place to place, but really all Christians are called to do the same work where they are placed.
The particular strategy that God has called us to is in building up the foundations of the next generation (see Isaiah 58:10-12). I spend most of my weekdays at our bilingual Christian school where I teach 2nd-5th graders about God and the gospel through science, social studies and English classes. About 70% of these kids are not from Christian homes. The rest of the day I spend in preparation for Sundays, where I lead worship, teach ESL classes, preach, and teach Sunday school. (Obviously I don't do all of these every Sunday!) We also enjoy spending time with individuals at our home who are seeking, such as college students we meet at church. We also try to make significant time with our two boys. We see them as our main investment for the future of Japan.
What are the biggest cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan? Give us a funny example too!
Where to start! I think these two cultures may be two of the most different cultures on the planet! I think most Americans don't believe that, since outwardly Japanese seem quite westernized, but it is true. Here is just one huge difference: Japanese value politeness more than friendliness, and seriousness more than frankness or humor. America is the exact opposite! (Which is maybe why you asked the question the way you did, Doug! : )
Look for Part 2 of this interview tomorrow. Until then, check out Mark's blog here.
The following is a guest post by Tom DeZarn, a good friend and fellow member of LaGrange Baptist Church. Tom is a humble man of God who has a burden for orphans and the people of Cambodia. I asked him to write about his recent trip to Cambodia and how God blessed him.
I was blessed to be able to visit Cambodia in July with the Talton family and a team from Springdale Church. The main purpose of our trip was to serve at RDI (www.rdic.org), a company started by IMB missionaries sent out from Shively Baptist over 12 years ago. We also got to visit a very unique Children’s Hospital north of Phnom Penh, where a pair of Christian doctors sent out from Springdale serve the poor children in that area.
However, the highlight for me was probably a separate visit I made to the slums near a city dump. Nearby live hundreds of families who send their children to scavenge for garbage that can be resold. About 5 years ago the director of a Lexington-based adoption agency partnered with a church in Phnom Penh to begin a school for some of the poorest of the poor who live there and now serve nearly 130 kids with Christian instruction and loving care at the same time they receive their education.
Since adopting our youngest daughter from Cambodia 9 years ago God has put a burden on our hearts for the Cambodian people. Through the years we have supported various ministries there, but recently have decided to take a more active role in finding ministries that couple our passion for orphans with our connection to Cambodia. We realize we have been greatly blessed in the US and with that comes an obligation to help our brothers and sisters around the world. We look forward to seeing what new doors God will open in the coming years.
This will awaken your heart to God's heart and mission to the world. Please watch this video then pray, give, send, raise up, and perhaps go for the sake of His name. Specifically, I covet your prayers for my twin brother Mark and his family who are serving as missionaries in Japan.
(HT: Zach Nielsen)
My good friend, Dustin S____, recently started a blog called, His Peace Upon Us. Here is the description of his blog in his own words:
I am a Christian follower of Jesus who loves the people of the Middle East. The basic premise of this blog is that we cannot love those we do not know. So I am hopeful that this blog is one way Muslims and Christians get to know each other.
Dustin calls himself a cross-cultural peace-maker. I call him friend. He is a man of God whom I deeply respect. He is one of the most passionate guys I know. His heart for Muslims and the Middle East challenges me as does his love for the church. My wife and I have known Dustin and Kellie for a number of years. They are dear friends of ours. We are always encouraged and refreshed in our faith whenever we see them.
I invite you to take a look at his blog and learn more about how we can extend "His Peace" to all peoples of the world.
Sometimes I need to get out of the little bubble of my life and remember the reality of the big world I live in. Statistics like these from Family Care Foundation help to do just that: If we could reduce the world’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, the demographics would look something like this:
- The village would have 60 Asians, 14 Africans, 12 Europeans, 8 Latin Americans, 5 from the USA and Canada, and 1 from the South Pacific
- 51 would be male, 49 would be female
- 82 would be non-white; 18 white
- 67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian
- 80 would live in substandard housing
- 67 would be unable to read
- 50 would be malnourished and 1 dying of starvation
- 33 would be without access to a safe water supply
- 39 would lack access to improved sanitation
- 24 would not have any electricity (And of the 76 that do have electricity, most would only use it for light at night.)
- 7 people would have access to the Internet
- 1 would have a college education
- 1 would have HIV
- 2 would be near birth; 1 near death
- 5 would control 32% of the entire world’s wealth; all 5 would be US citizens
- 33 would be receiving –and attempting to live on– only 3% of the income of “the village”
For the full report, click here.
In light of (no pun intended) the power outages around Kentucky this week, I thought this picture was pretty fascinating. Over 100 years have gone by since the invention of the lightbulb, but as you can see many areas of the world remain thinly populated and unlit. Yet it comes as no suprise that the United States is well lit and urbanized much like Europe.
What shocked me most about this picture, however, is that some of the most lighted countries are most spiritually dark. I already mentioned the U.S. and Europe, (which are becoming increasingly secular) but look at Japan for example. My twin brother, a missionary in Japan, has told me that this country is only 1% Christian. Clearly urbanization does not equal salvation. But, like many have noted, we must reach these urban areas for Christ since they are the hubs (if you will) for the rest of the world.
Just think if these bright, well lit cities of the world, would actually become the "lights of the world?" Imagine the impact. So let us think globally and act locally--doing whatever we can where God has us now and praying all the while for the well lit, dark cities of the world.
- Read this post by Al Mohler called "A Reflection On Our Electric Lives"