Sinking in Japan

By Jeremy Sink, Apr 9, 2013
Missionaries Jeremy and Gina Sink recently went from itinerating in the U.S. to living full-time in Japan. Jeremy gives us a glimpse into the challenge many missionaries face when they first arrive on the field. 

Humble Beginnings
Several weeks this past fall were very humbling for Gina and me. We’d gone from living in a place where we were mostly competent and self-sufficient to one where we were functionally illiterate, unable to communicate basic ideas, and as a result very needy.

One night I decided to fire up one of the kerosene heaters used to warm the house during the winter. I went to the gas station, bought some kerosene (an adventure in itself), and then topped off the tank in the heater. The heater itself is more complex than its U.S. counterparts with buttons and digital readouts all over the front. Of course, each button is clearly labeled ... in Japanese! I finally did get the heater to light, and it warmed the house nicely. However, I’m not sure which combination of things actually resulted in ignition, so I had to start from scratch the next morning!

Everything in our lives, especially those first few months, has been like lighting that kerosene heater. The buttons on the microwave oven and the washing machine are all written in Japanese—as is the owner’s manual for our Toyota van and the labels on everything in the grocery store. It seems like we’ve needed help with almost everything!

Help in Weakness So, through this transition, the Holy Spirit has been giving us a better view of our weakness. At the same time, He’s been mercifully providing for our daily needs through His Church here. Our teammates and the Japanese Christians at Nisshin Christ Church have been so helpful and patient with us. I’m pretty sure that someone from our team spent time with us every day that first month. We feel humbled and grateful for their constant help.

The Japanese Christians at Nisshin Church also received us warmly. Within 48 hours of our arrival, one of the church ladies knocked on our door to take Gina to the grocery store and teach her how to cook a Japanese-style meal. Another lady took us to city hall and then helped us open bank accounts. Someone else spent their whole Saturday translating for us at the cell phone store, and a team of three ladies have taken turns meeting with us each week to tutor us in Japanese. I could go on, but you get the idea.

The church here is very (very) small, but God has people who’ve welcomed us with lavish generosity. They’re able to do that because they’ve experienced the lavish, welcoming love of God through Christ Jesus. He received them when they were aliens and strangers because of their sin, and now they’re showing a similar welcome to us. It’s a marvelous picture of God’s grace drawn around our newfound weakness.

I wish I could tell you that we became independent again after a few weeks, but that’s not reality. We’ll need a lot of help (and prayer!) for a long time. And in the process, God will get glory as He continues to show Himself strong through our weakness. Thank you for praying to that end!

You can follow the Sinks on their blog,

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Please pray for the rebuliding efforts in Ishinomaki, Japan, and for church planting efforts in the region that have begun since the 2011 tsunami.

Pray for the relationships missionaries are developing with Japanese men and women. Pray for common interests and connections to be a bridge to the gospel.

Pray for the men and women in Japan who have been attending church to make a public commitment to Christ and to express their faith through baptism.

Pray for God to break through cultural barriers to draw Japanese men and women to Himself. And for God to call more missionaries to serve in Japan.

Pray for Japanese college students wrestling with new faith. Pray that they would have the courage to give their lives to Christ and not fear their family's reaction.

Pray for the U.S. church to send workers to Japan where less than 0.5% of people are Christians.

Pray for the Japanese to realize that money, health, education, and material possessions do not satisfy the human heart.

Pray for God to call college students to Japan for 2019 summer internships.

Pray for youth around the world to come to faith, and pray for missionaries who minister to the next generation. Young people often impact their whole familes for Christ.

Pray for children in Japan who are attending Christian school and influencing their families for Jesus. 


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