Mie, Cliff, Stan, Richard, Danny, and Darby from Los Angeles join us at the morning meeting. Jonathan reads from Matthew 5.1-12 and he begins to tell us about a lesson he learned last summer. In 2011 Jonathan was working with the Japanese relief organization CRASH, whom BeOne stayed with for a few weeks when I first arrived last April. He recounted CRASH's scramble to manage its operation, with a lot of top-down decision making that didn't always make sense in the field. So one day their team was ready to head out with a day's worth of tasks to accomplish, but they were told instead to take a headquarters staff member from Indonesia out to survey Indonesian churches in Tohoku (Northeast Japan). So Jonathan was frustrated because here was a Japanese-speaking team ready to go work in the Japanese community, redeployed as chauffeurs for the day. They did find their Indonesian Christians, meeting in loaned space in a factory, worshipping and ministering and doing their best to support each other in relief work. So the factory where they found the Indonesians really is the key to the whole story, and Jonathan explains why: In Japan Indonesian workers are really at the bottom of the food chain. They have no legal rights, their visa status is a little shady, and the companies that import them really keep them here at their whim. They are exploited in many ways similar to illegal immigrant workers in the USA. And Jonathan begins to think about all the other relief organizations, which are really rich in resources and support. Vans, volunteers, newsletters, and blogs, ministering to a population that already had a good standard of living. And he sees with new eyes these who are the poorest of the poor, who will never have their picture on a missions brochure, never have a headline, never have their own non-profit, and no Facebook page trumpeting their cause. And then the lesson in humility from Jesus' words begins to hit because Jonathan begins to see that those "blessed" poor in spirit, and those that mourn, and the humble and afflicted and persecuted, may just be the ones in Jesus' very next exhortations that are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and that real ministry, real serving, Jesus-shaped living is from the bottom up, to and with those who can never pay us back or make good Kodak moments, and that when we see the kingdom of heaven come in all its clarity, that these "invisible ones" may be ahead of us.
We're taking Danny, Richard and Darby with us to Okawa. While I am mentally going over the day's work ahead--the tools we brought--the chainsaw, hand auger for boring post holes into the mud, gloves and rags for smearing the cedar with creosote, the tape measure and string for laying out the fence--I almost forgot that the LA crew (except for Richard who was here last year) was at this moment in a very different place emotionally.