Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine Fun

One of the things we are keen to do in Hiragishi is to encourage our believers do something themselves to which they can invite friends.  This being the season of Valentine's Day, yesterday a small gathering was held in the home of our missionary colleagues here, all fairly low-key with food, chat, watching a short DVD (I'm Special).  One young guy who has been to several things before over the last couple of years came along afterwards to our service too.  We made it quite simple with a straighforward message about God's love.  Valentine's Day takes on some strange twists here.  It has long been the custom that girls give to boys on February 14th and the compliment is returned exactly one month later on White Day.  In recent years, so-called 'tomo choco' have been popular - chocolates exchanged just among friends, often girls to girls.  Today one of our boys got some chocolates from a girl (not at school - that is not allowed) but he also received some from one of his buddies too.  We have never before come across boys giving boys chocolates.  It's funny the way traditions work out in different cultures, and indeed the way they change over the years (not that this would have anything to do with marketing by the chocolate manufacturers of course!)  How to communicate that deep, self-sacrificing, amazing love in the midst of all of that?  Some years ago we had the following conversation with a 13 year old girl who had been coming for some time to our children's club.  She was now too old for the club but kept coming anyway.  We asked - 'What brings you here to the church?'  She said this - 'I find love here.  There is no love at home'.  Sadly that may be the experience of many.  And even fewer know the love of God shown so clearly in the passage from John's gospel we were looking at yesterday in our service - the way Jesus dealt with the woman who was about to be stoned by others for her sin.  Our longing is that many in this land would find their way to true love - not symbolised in a heart-shaped pink chocolate, but in a cruel cross of wood.

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