[ec23] Pureppu Devotion① God, too, has concerned.

Hello, everyone! In the EC Preparation Prayer Meeting at PUREPPU, Nobukazu Otake, a seminary student, gives a short message every time, and it’s always great!

So, I’d like to share it on the blog from time to time.

For those who are blessed and want to pray together for EC at Prep, the next session is on November 25th (Saturday) at 8 am (EST), 7 am (CST), 6 am (MST), 5 am (PST), 10 pm (JPN)!

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Have you ever experienced the feeling of regret when you lost something? I believe everyone has had the bitter experience of realizing how precious something was only after losing it. It may come with pain, but if possible, take a moment now to recall those feelings.

Because that experience is a pain well known to God, and it can even become a clue to deeply understand God’s love. To elaborate, God becomes our Savior because He is a God who cannot help but regret the lost existence. If we know the pain of losing something, we can understand the heart of God.

And those who deeply understand that pain carry the motivation to serve for the work that God desires.

I apologize for the delayed introduction. I am Nobukazu Otake, a seminary student, and I have recently been recruited as the Assistant Director for EC’s Prayer Team.

To be honest, I knew nothing about EC before and was in a completely new situation. I was invited to serve through my friend Hiyori Nishimura. Moreover, I ended up being responsible for delivering messages on the Word only at PUREPPU. Honestly, not knowing what to say, I spent the preparation period.

However, three days ago, I had a dream and woke up in the middle of the night. It was a dream that reminded me of a recent painful loss. Jumping out of bed, in the dark room, I recalled the experience of loss and, while lamenting the pain, whispered the prayer that had become a habit since losing something valuable: “Why, Lord?”

At that moment, a divine voice echoed in my head, asking, “Are you lamenting?” I immediately opened the Book of Jonah. There, a withered gourd, which God had caused to grow to improve Jonah’s mood, was depicted as withered and Jonah was once again angry.

I could understand Jonah’s feelings very well. There was the anger and suspicion that came from the sadness of loss, asking, “What is God doing? What is the purpose of making me experience this?”

Then, the Lord spoke to Jonah.

Jonah 4:10–11
“The Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?'”

Jonah experienced the sadness of losing the gourd and lamenting it because God wanted him to become someone who understands God’s concern for the people of Nineveh.

On the night I wondered why I had such a dream, I learned that God deeply regrets the souls of the Japanese people. Despite experiencing the Gospel overseas, knowing Jesus, and embracing faith in the love of the cross, many souls returning to Japan tend to drift away from the church due to the gap. God is deeply saddened by this reality and cannot help but lament it, calling out, “Why?” with deep regret.

God wanted me to understand that pain because I will be involved in ministry related to returnees at the end of this year. The Lord is passionate about the work of overseas Japanese missions. There is a purpose in Equipper Conference, and it is the fervent desire of God, who loves the souls of Japanese people so much that He cannot bear to lose them.

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