“Yes, yes, but you are a foreign family. We have our own traditions.”
Ten years ago, I never dreamed that such a thing would be said to my face at my future children’s pre-school in my own country. But then I married a Canadian, we became “foreign missionaries,” and a new layer of complexity was added to my already complicated social identity as a Japanese Christian.
Our three youngest children attend an alternative daycare that emphasizes physical hardiness and harmony with the rhythms of nature. It is a unique opportunity to meet a wide variety of fellow parents who are searching for something more fulfilling than the status quo. Living at the Aomori Christian Center means our house is a popular gathering place for class get-togethers on holidays, and some are keen to hear what our Christian faith is all about.
But there are also other competing agendas represented, and the spiritual barriers are very high. For example, the comment at the beginning of this post was one mother’s public reaction to the explanation I gave to another mother who wanted to know what Christians teach their children about human origins.
There is nothing easy about following Jesus on the frontiers of the Christian faith, especially as a “foreign family” in Japan. No exertions on our part can blaze short cuts into the hearts and minds of those we encounter in daily life. But there is great joy in each unexpected divine appointment, and great excitement with every foothold we see gained in an inquiring soul.
Written by Yuko.