John B, a businessman, and his wife, who have have been expatriates themselves, share with us a testimony about their international Christian experience in Japan and Switzerland.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB)
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
The concept of us being sojourners on earth becomes very real when living in a foreign country. Life abroad can be lonely, confusing and difficult, yet the Lord knows what we need and will always be there amidst our challenges. A Biblically solid, spiritually alive international church family is a God-given gift and lifeline, a primary way the Lord comforts and guides us through unfamiliar territory.
Our experiences in Japan and Switzerland presented unique challenges in adjusting to new languages, cultures and ways of life, and the international churches were instrumental in helping us to acclimate to our new surroundings. We were newlyweds while living in Japan, discovering that our Sunday night Bible study was pivotal, enabling us to put on our spiritual armor prior to facing Monday morning. The fellowship and study of God’s Word was so essential that members almost never missed; we were deeply committed, because we were so aware of our need. In Switzerland, our high school-aged children formed priceless friendships in the youth group, learning that the body of Christ is rich in diverse cultures and backgrounds, yet intrinsically linked together in Jesus.
Foreign populations oversees tend to be transient, and it is imperative to plug into a healthy spiritual community very quickly. In the church, we found incredible fellowship and friendship rapidly and learned that God’s people can develop trusting and lasting relationships almost immediately when they share the Christian faith and a common experience, especially an unfamiliar one. Some of our best friendships are from those years in Japan and Switzerland, and we continue to invest in one another’s lives, now even to the next generation.
John and Kim B.