I recently returned from the 2015 YWAM Japan National Conference. This past year it was held in Nara Prefecture at a National Sport Center. Something is different though. I feel different from when I left. This trip turned out to be far more than what I expected.
We left on Tuesday morning from Tokyo; I rode in a van. It was a ten-hour drive from the YWAM Base in Tokyo to the conference center. It was a beautiful spring day, but about two to three hours out from the conference center we ended up in a freak snowstorm. At first this wasn’t an issue, but it quickly became one as we got closer and closer. The sports center sits near the top of a mountain in a mountain pass. This means we had to get two vans and a car up winding roads in snow. Now, I am from Alaska, so this didn’t seem like too much of an issue till the first van in the convoy lost traction on an uphill and got stuck. The other two vehicles came to a stop and got stuck as well. We were about a 15 minute walk from the highest point and the short downhill that was the driveway for the centers parking lot. Everyone got out of the vehicles and had to push the first van to the top. It took seven or eight people to push it to the top, because the road was covered in a layer of ice with a bit of snow on top. Then once we reached the top with the first van, we discovered that the second van, which we had pushed half way up had All-Wheel Drive. It drove the rest of the way up. I then went back to check on the car that was stuck. As I finally reached the car, they had just finished putting chains on it and it drove all the way up. I then walked to the sports center and thus began day one of the conference.
The conference was wonderful. We had our national business meeting, we also had six sessions of worship and listening and discussing the what God is doing with John Dawson, who is one of the father figures of YWAM. The main point we really discussed was that YWAM can no longer be looked at as an Academic Organization or a Business. God designed YWAM to function not under a governing structure, but as a family structure. We function independently and corporately, but in a family style model. YWAM is also not just current missionaries who are staff, but everyone who has at one point been apart of the organization. We are meant to be inclusive and generational. We also discussed how this relates to the body of Christ in all spheres and how to support each other without holding back what God is doing. YWAM is currently undergoing a massive transformation in this respect. Instead of relying on leaders, we are focusing on having circles of eldership.
This was also a really great time to talk with YWAMers from all over Japan, including new and old friends. We got to pray for, encourage, and bless one another. We even went to a nearby onsen. The thing I took away is what is most exciting for me. The expectation for what God is doing. It is so easy to lose focus. However, God is doing so many amazing things within or midst. I feel like this is a time of growth. Growth as in multiplication, multiplication of vision, hope, joy, and a new understanding of what it means to have a wonderful father who is intimately wanting to create and restore with us. God wants to do things with his people, working together to raise us up. Like a father raising his children up for greatness.
The day we left the conference, all the snow was gone. The road back was long, but the trip had become a journey. For a trip is just traveling from place to place, but a journey changes you along the way. The person who returns is not the person who left. And this is also the case with this journey. For myself and a few of my friends, we are not the same people who left less than a week ago. I am thankful for this, even though I can’t really quantify it.
Now, I am preparing to leave again. This week, I leave for the Philippines. Another journey, to a place less than known. An adventure with a bit of hardship, but covered in an ever-present hope. I will post again when I return. Please be praying for our team as we head out again. Also, all my money for this conference and for the Philippines trip has come in!!!!