Friday, November 9, 2007

Full Armor Miracle

A few weeks before our departure, Goldie, the children's coordinator for CPI asked if I could lead a Bible lesson for the kids. They were going to be learning about the Full Armor of God from Ephesians 6. She was hoping to have me dress as a samurai and talk about the different pieces of the outfit and how it relates to the spiritual battles we face as Christians. Since I had dressed as one of my favorite samurai characters - Amidamaru, I happily accepted the invitation. The trick was going to be the sword.

Bringing a sword (real or fake) through the airport would be a hassle, so I decided it would be best to find one in Japan. Little did I know that they are few and far between. We searched for two days, but to no avail. Finally, I resorted to introducing myself to Yoko, missionary wife of Brian Broaddus, who is fluent in English and Japanese. I explained my predicament, and she helped translate for me as I inquired at the hotel front desk. Management didn't know where to look for a sword, but after a few minutes of asking around, along came Shimanuki-san who worked in the gift shop. He spoke no English and explained that "not possible to get sword without license." I reiterated that it was just for showing to the kids and part of our Bible lesson. In Japanese he said, "Very difficult to find, but will try. Come back tomorrow and I see what find."

In my prayer that night, I said to God that it would be nice if we had a sword to correspond to the Bible passage that reads "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Not a lot of words, but I was trusting fully that if God really wanted me to do this, He'd take care of the details. Well the next morning I met Shimanuki-san at the front and he carefully revealed one of the training swords to me. I was amazed at the blade. It was shiny steel that I could faintly hear the shiiinnngg sound you hear in the movies. He handed me another sword, this one longer than the first, and explained how to draw it from the scabbard. When I asked where to return them to him once the lesson was over, he said "they are gift." Yoko, my new best-friend and translator, had an astonished look on her face as she explained to me that he was, in fact, giving me the two swords. I didn't know how to respond. I mean you can only repeat domo arigatou gozaimasu so many times before you start feeling like a retard, so I thanked him in English and Japanese; bowing like only a stiff American can. Before I could finish thanking him, he also handed me a large poster-size photo of Mt.Fuji which he had taken years earlier. He must have known I was a photo buff, so I continued thanking him.
So here I have two authentic Japanese swords used by samurai to train for battle. If I had any reservations about sharing the message in front of 40 kids while being dressed as a samurai, those fears quickly vanished. Weiling spent the rest of her free time that day finishing the armor which was made of craft foam and cardboard. By the time 7:30pm came around, I was fully equipped to share the lesson and their response was overwhelming. For 20 minutes I shared with all of the kids how to be fully equipped; trusting in God's word for all things. They got a first-hand look at what a Christian warrior might look like fighting the good fight. For the rest of the week, I was referred to as Samurai-san by all the kids.

The next day I presented Shimanuki Sensei with a photo of me in full attire, and he got a kick out of it. He asked me about the second sword and was laughing because I had it on the wrong side. He says both swords should be on the left. I also gave him one of the Jesus video tapes translated in Japanese that we picked up at the conference. After I thanked him several more times and recalled the delight of the children who got to see it, Yoko conveyed to him my desire to be a missionary in Japan. Shimanuki-san asked me to please come back and see him. "One more thing I have to give to you." I hadn't done anything special to warrant his generosity. Clearly the Lord was answering several prayers that day. If God's provision had ended there, I would have still been satisfied, but several other "signs" would be given to Weiling and me in the coming days as evidence of God's desire for us to help feed His sheep in Japan.