I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an interview with a missionary, but Amy and I connected several months ago via blogland, and she graciously answered a few questions about her current experience in Japan. You can see more of Amy’s life and ministry at her blog, PerryClaninJapan or her Facebook page, as well.
What inspired you to become a missionary in the first place?
When I was younger I went to a missions conference. And at that time I did not feel called at all. I prayed to God and told him I would do anything–anything–for the Lord besides missions. But God has quite a sense of humor, doesn’t He? First, I met my future husband who was completely focused on missions. Then, I had a job while my husband was at seminary where I was surrounded by missionaries 40 hours a week and before I knew it my heart was completely changed. After a three-week mission trip my husband and I took to SE Asia, I was confident it was what we were called to do, and I had a feeling it would be somewhere in Asia.
Being content with what you are doing and where you are in your ministry. A good ministry overseas takes a lot of patience, a lot of time and a lot of sacrifice. You have to have patience because you have to go slowly in ministry. You have to watch the culture and learn before you start to set up camp so to speak. A lot of time because when you are a missionary so there is no set work schedule. You can have something to do any day of the week at any time of the day or night. A lot of sacrifice because there is so much left behind when you move overseas. Missing family is very hard and resisting the desire to want to go back to the comforts of America can sometimes be even harder. Contentment in all things is very difficult to learn.
What are the biggest benefits of being a missionary?
I get to share about Jesus. I get to love on the beautiful people of Japan every day. And I do this for a job. I also get to raise my son in an environment of full-time ministry and service. As he grows, he gets to see what real ministry is among a very lost culture, and that perspective throughout his childhood cannot be replicated. I don’t think I need to say much more.
What is the biggest mistake new missionaries make during their first year on the field?
New missionaries often come in with a complete game plan in place and begin it without considering the culture they are ministering to. The missionaries that have the hardest time making connections with the people they are serving are missionaries that come in with a rigid agenda already in place without taking the necessary time to learn the culture they are serving in. The message of the Gospel doesn’t change, but the way you present it can. New missionaries from the States sometimes forget that the people they are going to be ministering to have been living this way all their lives and the last thing they will respond to is something that feels overly American.
It has impacted us in more ways than I could have ever imagined. For my son, it has opened his eyes at such a young age and he has already realized in small ways that the world is a large place. He is slowly learning a second language and learning a culture other than his parents’. For our marriage it has changed it completely. We love each other more because of all we have had to go through the past few years. As a husband and wife in the mission field, you absolutely have to be on the same page and work together or you’ll never make it. There are still rough spots, as there always will be, and new kinds of rough spots that are unique to our situation. But I have to say I am more in love with my husband today than I was before we made this move.