YWAM training and ministry trip

Short Version:

We are raising money for going to Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Crossroads Discipleship Training School (DTS). We feel that God is calling us to full time ministry in Japan, and that He is wanting us to go to YWAM to be trained and made ready for this ministry. YWAM does an excellent job of preparing missionaries and teaching people how to listen to God\'s calling. The program consists of a 12-week lecture phase, followed by an 8-week outreach phase. We do not currently know where the outreach will be, but we know that God has everything planned, and that where ever it is that He sends us, we will be in His hands.

The money collected will go towards our travel, tuition, room & board, Lochlan\'s YWAM pre-school tuition, outreach, and living expenses.

Long version:

This year has certainly been an amazing yet challenging year for the Carlson family. We have made one of the most life-altering decisions outside of getting married and having kids, and the resultant roller coster ride has been spectacular, if nothing else.

Meg and I have been given a vision and a passion for ministry in Japan. Having grown up here, we have known that we would live and be a part of ministry in Japan somehow. I have been working as a teacher at my alma mater, Christian Academy in Japan, for the past 7 years. Meg has also been active in the community, having coached middle school girls\' volleyball, worked in our church\'s nursery, and built many strong relationships, particularly with those brand new to living in Japan. These years have been amazing; the relationships that we have developed with the students, staff, and members of the Higashikurume community have been a blessing and an honor to be a part of. Originally, I had thought that I would work at CAJ until I hit retirement age. It is with mixed emotions that we have decided to leave CAJ after this school year.

For some time, however, God has been calling us to move beyond the CAJ community and to be more directly involved in ministry. The ministry that we feel called to is very different from typical ministry. I don\'t think that we are called to be  pastors or to start a church; but we do feel called to do what God has given us gifts for: for Meg, being a friend and using her gifts of hospitality, and for me, building relationships and coaching.

Meg has often talked about opening a bakery/cafe with the intention of making a place where people feel comfortable and able to talk from their heart. In Japan, there is a strong cultural tendency to put up a front, known as \'tatemae\'. This is done so that people won\'t put negative social pressures on each other and disrupt the harmony of the community. While this can have some benefits, the downside is that many in Japan have nobody to truly open up to from the heart; to do so would let through what is really going on inside, and risk breaking their tatemae. People here need friends that they can open up to completely and safely; Meg has a gift for listening and caring. In this cafe, people can come in not just for food, but for a safe place to confide in someone who wants to listen, and to be able to let down their guard. A place where they can go during their crisis and know that they will not be rejected. A place where they know they are loved.

Another ministry that Meg has talked about wanting to get involved in is a ministry to the elderly. Recently in the news there have been many tragic stories of elderly men and women passing away without anyone being aware of it for weeks, due to the fact that these men and women have been forgotten about by their family and friends. When my wife hears these stories, her heart breaks. Meg has expressed a desire to get out into the community in order to meet the elderly and listen to their stories. She wants them to know that someone cares about them, and that they are still valued as individuals.

I feel that God is calling me to start a gym here in Japan. No, not the typical commercial \'fitness center\' that comes to mind for many, where people walk in with their headphones on, magazine in hand, and either sit on a cardio machine for an hour by themselves or do a machine-based workout routine that they had to put together on their own. This gym would be one that is based on a community of people coming together to coach and be coached, to learn how to use their bodies better, and to encourage and challenge each other. I would personally get to know all of the members of this gym, and have the potential to build a positive relationship with them as their coach. Through this relationship, I know that God will give me many opportunities to speak Life into the hearts of the people I train.

While I have wanted to do this since around the summer of 2009, I knew that something was missing. I have the training needed to train others; I need training in how to reach out and minister, and how to be sensitive to hearing what God wants to me to do or say. I often tell people that I fail to hear God\'s \'still soft voice\', and he ends up needing to smack me upside the head in order for me to finally start paying attention.

Last summer while I was painting some CAJ classrooms, my dear friend and mentor David McDaniel called me and talked with me about this vision. He put a new light and perspective on this ministry, one that excited me very much. He talked about knowing how to touch people\'s lives, and to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to know what issues people might be facing. One where a simple conversation between me and a trainee could lead to life-altering results. It put together everything I wanted out of the gym so clearly, it was breath taking.

During the summer of 2010, after several conversations with him, a great deal of prayer, and conviction from the Lord, Meg and I decided that in order to pursue our various ministries, going to Youth With A Mission\'s Crossroads Discipleship Training School is what God wants us to do to get ready for the future. Meg had wanted to go to YWAM since she was in high school, but it didn\'t quite work out for her to go after she graduated. YWAM (http://www.uofnkona.edu/) is all about helping people find and experience the abundant life that he has in store for us, and to then take that and share it with others. Discipleship Training School (DTS) is a 5 month experience - 3 months of intense training followed by 2 months of outreach somewhere in the world. It is extremely challenging, yet extremely rewarding, and will arm us with the tools we need for ministry.

What followed after we made the decision to go to YWAM is where the \'spectacular roller coster\' comes in. Shortly after the decision was made that we would go, Meg\'s father passed away. As a result of travel and other expenses, most of the money that we had saved from my summer maintenance work evaporated. On top of that, CAJ, as part of their organizational status change to gakkou hojin (a government certified school), all direct hire staff were put on Japanese social security, which took a decent bite out of our monthly pay check. In past years, we would get to the end of the month and be moderately worried when we \'only had a couple hundred dollars left\' in the bank; this year we would come to the end of the month and have ten to twenty dollars left in the bank. Financial challenges kept coming up left and right all year long, testing our faith in God. God has been faithful every month, and we have been kept safe every month by His grace. Still, it has been challenging to be so challenged financially this year. Dave made an interesting observation about the fact that all of this seemed to start right after we made our decision to go to YWAM: \"The last thing that the devil wants are two on-fire people getting trained to be more effective in ministry in Japan.\"

Unfortunately, as a result of all that has been going on, we have not been able to save much of any thing towards our YWAM training. We knew from the beginning that we would need to rely on God\'s providence to get the funds necessary to go to YWAM; we didn\'t know it would be to this extent. When I was younger, I had always told myself that I didn\'t want to be a missionary and have to write support letters; I was too determined to be a \'man\' who would provide for himself and his family. I know that God is challenging me on this point, and telling me to let go of the need for financial control. So, here I am, taking a step towards that and letting you know about what has been going on in our lives, and to ask if you would prayerfully consider financially supporting us with going to YWAM. We need financial, spiritual, and emotional support for what is coming next in our lives.

We have created a facebook group where we will be posting what is going on in our lives, prayer request, and other information called \"Carlson\'s YWAM Experience\" (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/home.php?sk=group_178730995503990&ap=1). If you would like to be added to that group, please let us know. It is an easy way to keep up on what is going on, and to be able to support us spiritually and emotionally.

If you are willing and able to, we have also created a fundraising page where donations can be sent. The page is http://www.gofundme.com/Carlson-family-YWAM. We are trying to do our best to save what we can for going to YWAM, but we are still a long way off from being able to pay for everything.

Thank you so much for your time in reading this. Please join the facebook group so that we can keep you up to date with what is happening in our lives. We covet every prayer that we can get!
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Adam Carlson 
Walker, MN
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