Richard & Catherine East
What is your current ministry?
For the last three years we’ve been serving in the Greater Tokyo area with KGK (the IFES Christian student movement in Japan). Richard has been part of the staff team supporting campus evangelism and discipleship. Catherine has mainly served in our local church and school community and caring for our daughters.
What has been the highlight your term?
Seeing students come to faith and beginning to excitedly witness and serve! One student was interested in Christianity because of her studies, but when she accepted an offer to study the Bible she promised herself she wouldn’t become a Christian. She is now a passionate and joyful evangelist to her classmates, her family, and others.
What’s the most unexpected thing you have seen this term?
Regularly watching 100 people queue up to get into an already jam-packed train carriage... and somehow all squeezing in!
What have you learned from East Asians this term?
We have had the privilege of seeing several Japanese Christians begin to take steps in evangelism, and transition from fear to joy in doing so. It has underlined that however reluctant we might seem, if the Holy Spirit is living in us, we cannot help but be excited at the prospect of sharing Jesus.
What can we pray for your future and OMF Japan?
Please pray for thousands of Japanese pastors, evangelists and youth workers to be raised up to reach Japan for Christ. Pray that we would be able to contribute to that work by joining OMF Diaspora Returnee Ministry team in the UK. Our dream is to see young Japanese people encounter Jesus in London, and catch a vision to serve him back in Japan. Also, for some of the most eager Japanese evangelists we’ve seen, time studying overseas was when they most grew in passion and boldness. We’d love to join in with what the Lord is doing in that way too.
What is your current ministry?
The first three of the five years that I have been in Thailand, I was helping with the design and construction of the new Lopburi Learning Centre. This is where new workers spend their first year of ministry, learning the Thai language and culture. It was a privilege to be involved in this exciting project and one of the highlights was seeing the building completed and occupied.
After my responsibilities with the building project had finished, I moved a couple of hours further north in Central Thailand to work with a church planting team. Although the building project had many roller coaster excitements and challenges, ‘church’ planting (which has nothing to do with buildings, but everything to do with people) is a slow journey which requires perseverance.
Highlight of your term?
One of the joys over the past two years was seeing two people accept Jesus into their lives through a non-Christian. She introduced her two friends to me because she knew that one of them was interested in being a Christian! My prayer is that she too will come to know Jesus.
What is the most unusual thing you have seen in Thailand and what are you looking forward to about being back in the UK?
It’s very hard to walk on the pavements in Thailand. Thai people are very creative and will maximise the use of the pavement in front of their house. Consequently walking anywhere involves negotiating market stalls and dodging motorbikes. So, I am really looking forward to being able to walk freely in the UK.
What have you learnt from East Asians this term?
Sharing food is a wonderful Thai value. Thai people have taught me the true meaning of their saying ‘Muu pai, Kai maa’, which you could translate as ‘Casserole goes, pasta bake returns’. In fact, I have had so much food brought to me by Thai friends that I can’t keep up!
What can we pray for your future and for Thailand?
I always include in my prayer letters the prayer request that I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s so important that in everything we do, we keep Jesus our focus. My prayer through this home assignment is that I seek God in everything, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. Please pray for the people of Thailand that they understand the most extraordinary act of sharing that has ever taken place, through the grace of the Lord Jesus. This gift needs a response but not any kind of repayment.