Who said first times are easy?
When I arrived in Japan, people around me always spoke of this famous Japanese culture called “onsen.” I told myself that I would never ever try to go to these bath houses. It is very awkward for me especially because I came from a culture where being naked with others is unacceptable and indecent.
But everything changed one day when together with two Japanese friends and one American friend went to see the beauty of autumn leaves. After the sightseeing, since it was getting colder here in Japan, they all agreed to go to onsen. I ended up with little choice. Either I would stay inside the car and wait for them or I would go with them. Since I don’t like waiting, I went with them in the bath house. At first, I really did not know what to do, but as the quote goes, “when in Rome, do what the Romans do.” So when everyone started to remove their clothes, it was a sign for me to do the same. We went inside naked, without malice. Everything was normal.
To be honest, it is one of the best experiences I have had.It gave me a good night sleep and my cold was healed. It was very relaxing and I felt relieved after. What if I had never tried and stuck to my shame? I would not have experienced this very amazing Japanese culture. Now I know how good onsen is! To that, I can testify.
Who said first times are easy? It never is. It takes a lot of courage to try something new and to know something new. When we walked the first time when we were a kid, it obviously scared us and probably our parents, too. We have some hesitations the first time we try a new food since we do not know if it tastes good or not. If there is one thing I have learned from this onsen experience, it is to never be afraid of first times.
My ministries in the church are no exception. I have been through many moments of fear and doubts in my first times – the first time I organized youth fellowship, the first time I directed a musical play, the first time I led praise and worship I had creepy feelings and butterflies in my stomach. I am full of what ifs. What if they reject the programs I am proposing? What if it won’t work? Will people be happy about it? I have experienced a lot but I have to admit that even at present, as a missionary in Japan, I still have a lot of doubts and fears in doing my new ministry for the first time. Fear heightens as I realized I am ministering to a very different culture in a different world where I only know a little about it.
Matthew 14:26-31 talks about the Disciples seeing Jesus walking on the water for the first time. They were terrified and afraid. They thought of him as a ghost. New things are always ghosts that frighten us. Retrieving courage, Peter said, “I will walk, too.” But His courage did not see him through. Fear was eating him, especially when big waves came near him. Jesus said, “You man of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Fear stops us from growing and doing something great for God’s glory. You never know what experiences await you behind those first times. Whether our first times give us good or bad experiences, one thing is for sure, WE GAIN! WE GROW! And we become braver to dare something new the next time.
Asian Rural Institute
GMF International, Class of 2016-2018