Tag Archives: japan

Their military marriage, a long distance relationship brushed with divorce

long-distance-relationshipHe was trying to fix her, and she was trying to fix him, until they got to the point of signing divorce papers.

Gage Jalbert – of French lineage –met Rikki on payday outside a Walmart in Oklahoma. She was a pretty blonde recently divorced from the father of her child, and they struck up a conversation.

He was due to leave for Japan with the Marines within a week, so they hurriedly got married in 2006. Rikki’s ex-husband would not allow their 3 year old daughter to go overseas so the newlyweds decided on a long-range relationship.

divorce---marriageGage had attended church as a young person but had drifted far away from God, drinking and watching porn. For her part, Rikki was smoking pot daily and committing “indiscretions.”

After the first year of marriage, Gage found out about his wife’s failings. Remembering the God of his youth, he told her she needed to go to church. He himself occasionally went to chapel but wasn’t stirred much by the service. Rikki didn’t appreciate his judgmental attitude. She knew that Gage was slipping up too.

“We were not saved,” Gage says. “We had all this sin in our lives. It was an unhealthy relationship.”

Gage began to pray for God to rescue his marriage.

The couple talked on the phone, mostly arguing and threatening divorce.

By October 2007, they decided to end the marriage. Gage’s superior had a father who was a lawyer who agreed to handle the legal details. In the meantime, Gage was offered a six-figure job with air traffic control, his specialty in the Armed Forces, in Denver. Simultaneously he struck up a romantic friendship with a model whom he had known in school.

Because he was praying, and because everything seemed to be lining up, Gage decided this was God’s will.

Two months later, he gave his wife one last shot to see if they could revive their marriage before resorting to the backup plan. But Rikki didn’t want anything to do with him. They argued: “Yes, I did this. But you did that. What you did was worse.”

In a heart-breaking moment, her child, Hannah, only 4 years old, told her step-dad: “You’re not my dad. You made my mom cry. You need to leave.”

long-distance-military-marriage-saved

In one argument, God broke through and spoke to Gage: “Look at the situation you’re in. Look at what you’re going through. You’ve been praying for six months for things to change. Why haven’t I changed things?”

Gage didn’t know the answer. Inside his head, he prayed and asked God why.

“I haven’t changed anything because you have refused to surrender.”

A Marine never surrenders. Surrendering means you give yourself up completely to your enemy.

These words pierced Gage’s heart. He fully understood the implication.

“I realized I was an enemy of God.”

By continuing to drink and watch porn, he was no better than his wife who smoked pot and was unfaithful.

Gage left the apartment and went home to his dad’s to pray. With just a few days until the divorce would be finalized, he decided he would pray, read his Bible, read Christian books and worked at fully surrendering to God. He would contend for his marriage.

On divorce day, he went to pick up his wife. He asked her one last time if she would try to work it out. She was adamant.

They went to the attorney. While the lawyer lectured Gage about trying by all means to avoid divorce, Rikki stayed in the car. She didn’t want any lectures. All she wanted was to sign divorce papers.

Gage figured he’d done everything he could to save his marriage. He was now free to pursue the career and the girl in Denver. In the meantime, he had to report back for duty in Japan, and he would work on fully surrendering to God.

A couple days after signing the papers, Rikki needed to see her husband about some issues and went over to her father-in-law’s.

That’s when she spied Gage praying in his room. She nearly cried.

While Gage had been trying to seek God in Japan, Rikki was working on her own relationship with the Lord. She secretly yearned to be married to a man of God. But all she knew about was a husband who drank and viewed porn. When she saw her husband praying, her heart broke. Maybe he was sincere about trying to work things out.

“I remember feeling like I was going to cry,” Rikki said.

Was it too late to undo the damage of signed divorce papers?

While Gage flew back to Japan, Rikki went to see her pastor, confessed her sins and fully and deeply repented.

She went down the courthouse and, saying she had power of attorney for her husband, asked for their recent divorce filing. It was probably a breach of protocol, but the official gave her the paper, and she ripped it up right there.

She called her husband and gave him the shocking news: “I tore up those divorce papers!”

Gage was flabbergasted. It came completely unexpected. In fact, he had given up and figured that God had the other girl for him. His response was far from warm.

“I told her not to call me, not to text me, not to email me,” Gage said.

Find out the romantic finale of their near divorce.

Is there Christian anime?

vash-kenshin-and-spiritual-transformationAfter losing his house, his church and nearby family, Joseph Wentz fell into a prolonged depression and started watching anime, the Japanese cartoons for adults.

The Christians who surrounded him at college helped him pull out of the funk, and he brought his passion for anime with him.

“Anime inevitably touches on Christian themes from time to time,” said Wentz, executive editor of Beneath the Tangles website which sifts through anime searching for hints of the gospel. “There are plenty of extremely popular anime with Christian themes.”

joseph-wentz-anime

Joseph Wentz

Across the genre, anime doesn’t purport to teach a Biblical message, and there is plenty of violent and sexual content. But many of the cartoons, like a Shakespearean play, treat gripping themes dealing with the human psyche that echo the Bible. For the Christians at the Beneath the Tangles, and the similar web-based Christian Anime Alliance, anime is not a stumbling block but an inspiration.

“Christians can receive much from anime, spiritually, emotionally and culturally,” said Michael Morejon, of GamingAndGod.com. “Since I see the world with a biblical lens and ask the Holy Spirit to guide my life, even anime can have significance for me and other believers. When we watch, there will be many scenes, characters or plots that reflect something God can use for our good.”

haibane-renmeiHaibane Renmei, for example, suggests messianic themes when characters must rely on an external savior and acknowledge their own weaknesses in order to escape from the clutches of some grave sin. And Puella Magi Madoka Magica explores spiritual, moral and familial themes, Wentz said.

Christian attempts to present the gospel through anime flopped in the 1980s and 90s, Wentz said, because they oriented their cartoons for kids and because flimsy story lines favored more lessons over riveting art. They lacked the poignancy of  anime pathos and got panned as amatuerish, Wentz said.

“The Flying House, Superbook, and In the Beginning: The Bible Stories are hardly considered by modern fans at all,” Wentz said. “Fans can easily see that they are pushing a message more than they are trying to provide entertaining content.”

michael-morejon

Michael Morejon

ichaelIn similar effort, Christians produced the Manga Bible that got largely got ignored by the Japanese. “I live in Japan, and I’ve only seen it in two places — both were churches. I’ve never seen a Japanese person reading one,” Wentz said. “As evangelistic tools, I’ve never heard of them having success.”

Why hasn’t Christianity made greater inroads into anime? Simply put, the best anime is produced in Japan, a nation where 1% of the population is Christian, and none of the great producers are Christians. (In America, anime voice-over artist Vic Mignogna does respectable anime work and is vocal about his faith.)

Nor do the frequent use of crosses by anime characters, or the occasional Catholic priest, signify anything more than just the incorporating of of esoterica – much like the West dons the yin-yang and Eastern mysticism just to be cool and different, according to “Radical Dreamer” on the Christian Anime Alliance.

While anime dominates the young adult segment in Japan, in America it tends to draws “the ostracized, the lonely, people who have found meaning and community less through the in-person interactions that dominate most of society and more through friends online,” Wentz said. Read the rest of the article: Is there Christian anime?

A tsunami name Carli Lloyd, and an American missionary in Japan

Carli Lloyd's goal from half line

Carli Lloyd took a speculative shot that completed her World Cup-winning hat-trick.

In 2011, Japan suffered a tsunami. The flood of water killed 15,891.

Yesterday, Japan again suffered a tsunami. No one died. But a flood of goals killed their hopes to retain the women’s World Cup title.

The name of the tsunami was Carli Lloyd. In the space of 16 minutes, the attacking midfielder swept past the Japanese defense to make an eye-popping three goals.  Her last shot, a wild crazy kick from the half line that caught Japan’s goalie out of position, gets my vote for best of the tournament.

world cup goal in net | Carli Lloyd

While backtracking, the Japanese goalie stumbled and was unable to push the ball out of its course.

Japan fought back to get two goals for some respect, but they lost 2-5. In soccer, that’s about as lopsided as you’ll ever see. And thus, the U.S. avenged their fluke loss from the last final (which they lost to Japan four years ago).

All I can do is offer condolences to my missionary friend in Japan Jack Garrot, whom I admire greatly. I admire him greatly because he’s been a missionary basically forever (since 1981). I admire him greatly because, being an American, he rooted for Japan.

But I admire Jack Garrot more.

But I admire Jack Garrot more.

A powerful spiritual dynamic is unleashed when a missionary adopts his target country. When he so closely identifies with his target people, he is giving the gospel and he is learning from them whatever cultural elements are actually more closely aligned with the Bible than corresponding cultural elements in America. Unencumbered by ethnocentrism, he is freed to preach the pure gospel without any of off-putting cultural accoutrements. I don’t even know if my friend would agree with any of speculations; all I know is he told me he was rooting for Japan. And I love him for that.

One day I hope to meet him in person here on Earth.

Whom do I admire more, Carly Lloyd or Jack Garrot? The latter, obviously. I’m happy for the USWNT on their cup. But I’m sad for my friend’s loss.

I predict Carli Lloyd’s fame will now surpass Abby Wambach and Hope Solo here on Earth. But in Heaven, Jack Garrot’s is immortalized. Between being a heavenly hero and an earthly hero, what would you choose?

*I don’t own the rights on these pictures, and I’m not making any money on them.

Don’t hold back

canada's women's soccerCanada’s women’s team scored early, and it seemed they were going to crush the Netherlands in world cup yesterday. But the second goal never came — much less the third or fourth. For those of us rooting for our northern neighbors, the disappointment turned to bitterness when in the final minutes of the game Netherlands scored an equalizer.

Because soccer games are often won by one goal, a team CAN lay back and just try to hold on. Disgusting.

canada vs. netherlandsSame is true of the church, when we congratulate ourselves on the one goal we’ve already made, the offerings we’ve already given, the work we’ve already done. It is enough. Why work harder? Let’s just coast into victory.

Japan, the women’s world cup defending champions, did the same against Ecuador. When they should have brought an avalanche of goals, they settled for one. Ugh. I hate it.

But do I do it? Do I call it quits on prayer, evangelism and giving far short of winning?