20 May Running Aground
“Yet I now urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship… But we must run aground on some island.”
Acts 27:22, 26 (ESV)
“Running aground” doesn’t necessarily sound like a fun thing. In fact, if you are sailing, that is something you really want to avoid. Yet in this story from Acts 27, running aground was the very thing that saved the lives of Paul and those sailing with him.
In this story, soldiers were taking Paul to Rome to stand before Caesar and plead his case for freedom. Yet after being delayed, they were sailing at a dangerous time of year, and eventually a storm came along and took them off course. And here in Tokyo, we have been driven along by a storm, too.
The past two years have been difficult for everyone in multiple ways. For us, the pandemic caused a financial strain for us as we almost completely lost the ability to welcome anyone from outside of the country. In the past, we would normally have students, teams, and guests staying with us as well as staff joining throughout the year, all of whom contributed to our financial wellbeing. However, with the borders closed, none of them could come.
Since January 2016, we have had the blessing of renting “The Base”, an amazing property with a dorm and house that we hoped to eventually purchase as our own. The dorm was designed to board students attending the local Christian school, so it worked well for housing staff and facilitating our training schools. The adjacent house has been occupied by the base directors and their families, allowing easy access to the community while serving in that position. Yet without students and teams, it eventually came to a point where it was no longer financially viable for us to stay and that’s when the Lord spoke to us through this passage in Acts 27.
For us, COVID has been our tempest, hoping every week for the borders to open, only for them to remain closed. And twice they did, once for two months then once for three weeks, only to have them close again suddenly. We never knew what was going to happen.
We felt like the Lord had called us to this property, that it was the place He had for us. We were standing in faith for it. Yet without seeing the breakthrough, we had to ask again what He was saying. Through the passage Acts 27, we knew it was time for us let the “ship” run aground. We then decided that it was time to move out of the property and let go of our desire to purchase it.
The Base has been such a joy for us. We have called out for the nations; facilitated transformation; celebrated babies, birthdays, and marriages; and laid our lives before Jesus in this place. We have hosted dozens of teams from all kinds of places, to be a landing pad for the nations to come serve in Japan. The Base has truly helped people come to Jesus as well as establish people’s callings to this country. We are so grateful for all that it has given us.
Now it sort of feels like we are the Israelites standing on the edge of the Promised Land and preparing to walk back into the wilderness. The staff living in The Base have had to move into different apartments; we are separated from one another, yet still in the same neighborhood.
Is that how the Lord sees it? I’m not sure, but I know His heart is still for his people in YWAM Tokyo.
In the midst of this journey in seeking the Lord about the property, some of our staff received this line from the movie Thor: Ragnarok: “Asgard is not a place, but a people.” This is true for us as well. We might not have the same gathering place, we might not be centrally located in one building anymore, but the same DNA runs through our veins, and the same purpose binds us together!
When our base was repioneered fourteen years ago, the vision and mission was to build the altar of worship, and that is what has been established as our foundation for these past several years. Today, we still exist with the purpose of worshiping and ministering to the Lord here in Tokyo, striving to live out the first commandment: to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
We are still a people who seek to be intimate with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and His Word. To be family with one another and as well, to build a family with those around us; to help advance the Kingdom of God by championing it where it is and cultivating it where it is not.
As we move forward into the future, we will “take heart,” just as Paul encouraged those men to do. The angel of the Lord had spoken to Paul that he was to stand before Caesar in Rome; we are trusting God that He will speak to us about where He is leading us beyond this time too!
JP Corhern (Base Director)