From College to Getting Married… in Korea
Jessica and I met in 2005 on a missions trip to Costa Rica while we were attending Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo. We were both pursuing degrees in missions/intercultural studies. After graduation from college we moved to Busan, South Korea to teach English. We were married there in November of 2007. All told, we spent over four years as teachers there. This period was very beneficial for us and God used it to grow us in many areas that will have a direct benefit on our ministry in Japan.
First, we learned to minister in a cross-cultural context. Early in our time in Korea, we became involved in a young church made up mostly of expatriate English teachers and local college students called Redeemer International Community Church. I preached and led small groups, and Jessica led women’s ministries and small groups. Eventually, I became one of four elders in the church and was the main preacher and teacher. Jessica also became heavily involved in organizing and leading women’s conferences and events.
Secondly, we benefited by learning to live in an international context. South Korea is similar to the United States in many ways, but it is also very different. We had to learn how to deal with differences in social settings, communication, body-language, cultural expectations and many other things that were very good training for us in learning to live long-term in an Asian country.
From Korea to Africa to Japan
While we were teaching and ministering in Korea, we were praying about what nation God was leading us to minister in. Jessica had desired to minister in Africa since she was a teen, and I wanted to minister among Unreached People Groups. This combination led us to take a trip to Mozambique in 2012. Our church sent us, and we spent time speaking with on-the-ground workers and touring some of the nation’s northern villages and towns.
On one of the final days of our trip, we stood together on the shore of the Indian Ocean and debriefed. We both hated to admit it, but we realized together that with our giftings and skills we might be able survive in Mozambique, but would not be able to thrive there. It was there, that we realized how much we enjoyed living in large, urban centers in Asia. It was also there that we began to discuss Japan and the needs of the nation. From that day on, our love for Japan has only intensified.