This is a touching and poignant account of a trip to the Far East originally posted in July, 2003
Sitting cross-legged on the matted floor of a traditional Japanese home I looked out of the window at a simple but vibrant garden. My hosts, Takeo and Tomoko Muraoka and Naoji Ishida had spread before me a feast of perfectly prepared, delicately served vegetables, tofu, rice, tender beef and green tea. With chopsticks in hand I comfortably ate and talked, ate and talked at an unusually restful and satisfying pace. It seemed that I had entered a very different, and much more civilized ‘time zone.’
Japan was eye-opening and heart opening. While humbled and deeply edified by the refined, artistic way of life in Japan – I was also grieved by the high incidence of suicide that demands barriers to block train passengers from leaping in front of moving trains. On the one hand there is an attention to beauty, power and elegance in visual design and on the other, there is a desperation of soul that leads to death.
Hearing God’s broken heart for the Japanese people, I found myself calling the believers in Tokyo and Osaka, to “look on the fields that are already ripe for harvest.” Many earnest and dedicated servants of God there asked “How can I help further the salvation of Israel?” I was privileged to speak about this from the prophets, especially Isaiah’s statement that “the sons of foreigners will build up your walls.” Yet covenant friendship is reciprocal. We need to pray for the raising up of an indigenous movement of Japanese flavored faith in Yeshua that utilizes the creative forms of expression native to this energetic and searching nation.
Energy is also an apt word to describe neighboring Korea. My dear friend, Hung Su Park, informed me that this peninsula nation has been invaded 936 times. Sounds like a parallel with Israel. Through the need to survive these conquests, and mostly through the blessings of God, the Korean character has become industrious, innovative and fun-loving. From the skyscrapers and stadiums in Seoul to the rugged mountains that command the Korean countryside, this nation echoes strength and achievement. Most impressive, however is the extensive influence and muscle of the Korean church. There is such a love of the word of God, pulsing vision for world harvest, commitment to prayer and non-stop fellowship that meetings frequently lasted five and six hours. Like kimche, a chilli pepper paste eaten with every meal, the sincerity and loving zeal of the Korean believers permeate and enliven everything they do.
Many new doors were opened during our encounters for these devoted brothers and sisters to embrace God’s heart for Israel. At a private hospital in a suburb of Seoul we were the guests of the owner, a woman who started with nothing 30 years ago and built a healing institution now filling several city blocks. There I became friends with the mayor’s wife, a woman of striking poise and humble authority. Both of these highly influential women are Spirit-filled believers who are openly guided by their faith in Jesus.
At a world missions training center I was told, “I have been polluted by the anti-Israel propaganda so prevalent in non-Western countries. Please forgive me. Through your message I have rediscovered the biblically-rooted love for Israel and the Jewish people that comes from God’s own heart.” With these remarkably frank words the veteran director captured my heart. We knelt before each other, receiving mutual blessing and being joined in faith for the salvation of Israel and the nations.
Jew and Gentile Interceding for Israel: Where the Oil Flows
Before leaving East Asia’s extreme generosity and the embarrassing degree of honor customarily extended to guests, I prayed for an intercessory leader in Korea. I placed a small bottle of olive oil in her hands and began praying for her. A strong, sweet anointing was released and the following thought flooded in upon me from the passage about branches being in-grafted in Romans 11. When the natural branches and the wild branches become one in the ancient root, the oil of God’s presence flows. When the wild branches (Gentile believers) embrace both the Jewish roots of their faith in Messiah and their covenant Jewish brothers who have reconnected with those roots through Yeshua, the oil flows. And when the natural branches (Jewish believers in Yeshua) rejoice without protective fear, knowing that the wild branches belong – THIS releases the olive oil. From the one olive tree, all branches together, will flow freely the oil of His anointing to break the yoke off of our people Israel.