I Am Kerflumoxed! (Don't know what to feel.)

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by John of Japan, Aug 7, 2007.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Something just happened that leaves me absolutely stunned. I've never had anything similar happen. I don't know what to feel at the same time as having very mixed emotions. (Figure that one out!)

    We have a family of four (the U.s) in our church, saved through our ministry. They've been saved for a few years but not ready for baptism for awhile after they saved. There was an idolatry issue, since her parents, whith who they live, have a Buddhist idol shelf in the home. This is a very typical situation in Japan.

    I haven't asked them about baptism for several years, and that is my fault, in retrospect. I should have been talking to them about it periodically. I did feel led last week, though, to write a letter to the U.s saying I was praying for them to be baptized soon--thinking of course that I would continue to press the issue if they said no.

    At any rate, there is another family (the K.s) who attends only our evening English service but not the morning Japanese service, and are not members. In the morning they go to the local Japanese equivalent of the SBC, where the new pastor doesn't even believe in Hell. But they are good folks, love the Lord and have been a blessing to us and our church folk. Both parents graduated from a pretty good Bible school in the States, though not a Baptist one. However, they have not been in full time service for many years.

    This morning I got a phone call from Mr. K. saying they had gotten a phone call from the U.s saying they wanted to be baptized. So Mr. K. trotted over and baptized all four of the U. family in their bathtub.

    Tomorrow we have a Ladies' Bible Study in the morning at which Mrs. K. and Mrs. U. and her junior high daughter S. will be. Mrs. F. will also be there, a lost lady.

    So now what do I do? What do I feel? What do I say to the two families?

    :) :eek: :rolleyes: :confused:
     
  2. Ulsterman

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    Hi Bro. John,

    I think you need to speak to everyone concerned, the U's especially, but also the K's, and explain that baptism is a church ordinance and should be conducted under the authority of a local church, also that is a public identification with Christ. Since the K's are not a church and their bath tub not a public place the baptism is invalid, therefore the U's should be rebaptised according to the Scriptures.

    Its a delicate situation and, depending on the maturity of those involved, has the potential for offence, but I am sure you would be gracious in handling this problem whilst respecting the sincerity of both parties involved.

    I have had similar situations in my ministry. Usually people "know" something was not right, and are happy to do it over again with the blessing of the pastor and the church.

    I will pray for you that God helps you in addressing the situation.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the good word, Ulsterman. I'm praying hard for wisdom. The thing is, the Japanese are extremely sensitive people. Remember the term, "loss of face." This is an everyday reality in Japan. The whole society is based on it. If I handle it wrongly both families are gone.

    Not to debate, but we do have the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch. I'm sure that Mr. K. will immediately bring that up if I seem at all to be rebuking him.
     
  4. Hope of Glory

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    Ask them (privately) details. Why, etc.

    Then, you will have an idea of where to go with it.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the input. I have to run.
     
  6. exscentric

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    I would sit on the situation awhile and pray/consider and see what comes up. The Lord will direct you as to what to do or not do.

    There are some things to consider as possibles:

    First neither party feels there is anything amiss so you have to start at that point.
    Second, I doubt they did it to offend or prove anything to you.
    Thirdly, there may be more history between the two families than you know of.

    I don't know the Japanese that well, but can see a family feeling more comfortable speaking/acting with other Japanese. I rather doubt there was anything personal.

    Their view may of baptism may not be your view, but they wanted to be baptized.

    Lots of things "could" be going on, but have found over the years situations like this usually cure themselves as you pray/think and act as the Lord leads. HE knows what is going on :thumbs: Not that knowing this always help with the feelings of being in such a situation.

    Also be thankful that the Lord seems to be leading the folks in their spiritual lives! Obedience to the Lord is always good.
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks, exscentric. This is good advice.

    My main problem was thinking I had to immediately face both wives at this morning's Ladies Bible Study. I had a real hard time sleeping last night because of that, and not knowing what to say. The lady who received baptism wasn't able to come, and God gave grace with the wife of the man who did the baptism. (She seemed a little sheepish at first.)

    So now I have more time to pray and wait for the Lord's leading. I know He has His purpose in all of this, and all things will work together for good, since all concerned love the Lord.

    Both families are good folk, and I'm sure meant no harm. Their motives were good, I have no doubt.
     
  8. Tom Bryant

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    John,
    You've received great advice. So I'll just stick to praying.
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks, Tom. The wife and I are struggling with this.
     
  10. Ulsterman

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    As I said earlier, John, it seems like she "knows" something wasn't right. She may not be able to put her finger on it, but she knows, and she knows that you should have been kept informed about developments. If they were confident in their actions they would have nothing to feel sheepish about.

    Now, it is just a question of patience and the Lord's timing.

    Still praying:praying:
     
  11. Hope of Glory

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    I have a question: Most Japanese that I am personally acquainted with are very private people. When I was in Japan, they kept this privacy in the same way that many in DC do, and that's by avoiding eye contact, etc.

    Is it possible that this desire for privacy led to their decision? Or, just that you're not Japanese?

    If the former, it might be an uphill battle because baptism is supposed to be public, but "public" is sort of subjective.
     
  12. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Yes, they are private people, especially when it comes to us foreigners. (They are extremely nationalistic.) I've had problems before with believers who were too shy to give their testimonies in public, something I require when I baptize. So to answer your question, I believe both things are true with this family: the desire for privacy (instead of a public profession), and the fact that their pastor is a foreigner.

    As an example of their privacy syndrome, PTA meetings here are known to serve whiskey. Also, much business is conducted in bars after work. This is not strictly for recreation. It is because most Japanese feel they can say what they really feel when they are a little soused, and it won't be held against them. "It was the demon sake," they can say if they later find out someone was offended.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks, brother.

    Not much will happen for awhile. We have a Japanese missionary to Thailand coming on Sunday, so we are focused on that right now. In the meantime, our folks have time to consider the whole thing, and I'm praying the Holy Spirit will do a real work in their hearts.
     
  14. Hope of Glory

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    Sounds like you've got a bit of a conundrum on your hands.

    It needs to be handled biblically, societally, etc.

    Not much of a help. Simply an observation.
     
  15. TomVols

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    Before we talk about the baptism aspect, I have to ask: why the hesitancy to baptise over the "idolatry" issue? Just my conviction, but if someone is perpetually "not ready for baptism," since baptism is your confession of regeneration, then it is legitimate to question if they are born again. Again, I'm not as familiar with Japanese culture as you. I'd like to know more about this idolatry situation and why you had doubts if you feel free to share.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    The Lord has used me to take the family who was baptized through some very hard times. Since I hold the things learned in counseling to be sacrosanct (as I'm sure you do), I don't feel at liberty to say much more about their situation. Suffice it to say that it was only a few months ago that the husband told me they had resolved their compromise.

    The Japanese, contrary to the Western image of them (Zen and all that), are extremely slow spiritually. And by "spiritually," I mean in every sense of the word: Biblical, secular, philosophical, etc. They are a very practical people, extremely good in business, which is why you no doubt have many Japanese products in your home. But they take an extremely long time to work through spiritual things.

    Story time. On our island, a woman's husband died, who she loved very much. The Buddhist priest took her through the rites, and at one point said, "You need to buy a kaimyo for your husband." This is a special new name for the spirit of the dead person so that, among other things, his spirit can avoid Hell. So she spent the equivalent of thousands of dollars for the best kaimyo her yen could buy. Bon festival, the festival of the dead, rolled around in August the next year. The priest told her, "Now your husband will be released from hell for a short period to roam the earth. You need to comfort his spirit with offerings and dances at the festival." She said, "But wait, I thought I paid him out of Hell!!" The priest was dumbstruck. This seemingly obvious conflict, when she truly understood it, started her on the path to faith in Christ.
     
  17. TomVols

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    Say no more. :thumbs:

    Asian culture is indeed very slow about these kinds of things. I remember this from interaction with Asian brethren from seminary and from my business dealings with them that pertain to the estate settlement proceedures.

    Okay, about the situation: If you have issues to talk about, talk to the people. I can't argue from your convictions, and I wouldn't ask you to argue from mine. But let me clarify. It seems as if there are two issues here. One, you're upset at the K family (and Mr. K) for baptising these people "behind your back", yes? Second, you're concerned about the U family doing this outside the church and not with you, yes?

    One final word, brother: don't lose sleep over this. The word of God is the word of God, and the Spirit of God is at work. God is in control. You losing sleep will not rectify the situation any quicker, and it will only rob you of rest you need to make full proof of your ministry.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    Well yes to these, but it's even more complicated.

    (1) The K. family has not joined our church. They love my exegetical Bible teaching in our English service in the evening. (Morning services are Japanese.) In the morning they go to another church.

    (2) I don't know if he is ordained or not, though he graduated from an American Bible institute and at one time tried church planting and has tried various ministries since. So I have to find out if he is ordained, and if not then tell the U. family that their baptism probably would not be accepted by any church, much less ours.

    (3) I have to tell the U. family that their baptism cannot be recognized by our church. Therefore they are not members of our church--so whose church are they members of? (I don't think Mr. K. has thought of these things.)

    (4) There is the trust issue. Why didn't either family think to contact me? Didn't they think that we might even want to see them baptized at the very least?

    (5) We have a lost lady coming right now, asking all sorts of good questions. I wish so much that she had seen a baptism. It would have been such a great testimony. Now we have to be very careful what she learns about it and how.
    Thanks. You are absolutely right. The wife and I slept somewhat better last night, though she went to bed with a migraine, the first in months.
     
  19. Tom Bryant

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    And to think, we have church members arguing over what color to paint the doors. Missionaries, like John and his wife, are my heroes!
     
  20. TomVols

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    I get what you're driving at, but they are associationally part of the body. They have willfully presented themselves as being part of your church. This could swing both ways. Since they're not members, why bother? See what I mean? But since you and your church have taken some measure of responsibility for both the U's and the K's, then that could apply.
    You say the baptism "probably" would not be accepted. Does your church have a written policy about this?
    I can see why your feelings might be hurt. I wouldn't dwell on this a whole lot. Providing that all motives are pure, rejoice with those who rejoice.
    Seeing the baptism could've been good for her, I agree. I don't see this being a hindrance to her coming to Christ. The Spirit-anointed gospel can draw her despite this other situation. I would be eager for her to see the Lord's Supper (of course, not participate). Talk about a testimony to her! :thumbs:

    I realize you may not want to hurt anyone's feelings, but this can be handled delicatlely and quickly.

    Glad y'all got some sleep, but sorry to her about the wife's migrane. I pray for a swift resolution. Sounds like the best thing in the world is for you to get your information from the guy who did the immersing and from the immersed
     

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