INTERVIEW WITH TORU AND IKUKO OGAWA-SAN, THE NAVIGATORS UNIVERSITY MINISTRY. SENDAI, JAPAN.
QUESTION 1: How have you "felt" about fundraising in your 25 years with The Navigators?
TORU: Fundraising has been a heavy burden to me—a never-achieved goal. What I did for raising support was only writing letters to appeal my ministry needs. I always have been under economical pressure. For ten years I worked as a part time high school teacher. There was less economic pressure, but I was too busy.
IKUKO: I felt uncomfortable asking economical support to other people. To help our funding I worked for the International School as a Japanese teacher and taught Japanese to missionaries.
QUESTION 2: You attended several funding schools, but you had a breakthrough a year ago...
TORU: Through the biblical teaching at STM (Support Team Ministry) schools I developed a solid biblical foundation. Still, something inhibited me from doing fundraising.
In 2015 January at STM school in Tokyo I was so frustrated, but I didn't know why. I asked Ikuko to go with me to our room to pray. While praying I remembered my father's words, "You will never succeed because you are my son." Even though my father had already passed away God showed me the subliminal influence of his words to my heart.
IKUKO: I was shocked when I heard my husband hurt from his father's negative words. It was great joy that God spotted the light at his dark part which he hadn't noticed.
TORU: Before knowing that I was bounded by my father’s words I felt something stop me like automatic breaking system to limit the speed. I really thank God made me realize this. I feel the heavy stuff was removed.
We prayed to be released from these discouraging words. Miraculously, I felt relieved that I would no longer allow my father’s words to stop me from succeeding in STM.
IKUKO: The breakthrough at STM school last year and the Bible verse in Uno-san's message gave me conviction that STM is an important ministry. I was released from negative thoughts toward STM. Uno-san shared from Luke 8:1-3. In this passage Jesus gave those women who had been healed and delivered from evil spirits the chance to join his ministry by economical support. Jesus also was supported by STM so I was convinced this ministry is following example of Jesus.
QUESTION 3: What is different?
TORU:: Less pressure. Of course I still get tense when I phone people [to ask for an appointment]! But I feel that I do not have to “succeed.” Instead I feel cared for by God the father.
IKUKO: When we meet face to face [with potential giving partners] we share God's words, pray together, encourage each other and have fellowship. We look forward to experience God's work through STM. I pray for STM with my husband every day.
TORU: We enjoy face-to-face appeals. They become good fellowship and sometimes counseling times. I intend to listen to [potential partners] rather than have them listen to me.
Ikuko and I always go together on appointments. Ikuko is a natural counselor and very good at communicating. In the final five to ten minutes of our face-to-face I ask them to pray to become our financial ministry partner.
QUESTION 4: What Scriptures is God using in your life, regarding STM?
TORU: Through Malachi 3:10 God spoke us that He can give us blessings beyond our thoughts.
QUESTION 5: What have you learned about God in this STM journey?
TORU: God's patience and encouragement. He never forgets about us. He also touches the lives of people we appeal to. If we don't do face-to-face appeals we are not able to have fellowship and pray for them in such depth. God changed my attitude from "I have to do this" to "God helps me to do this."
QUESTION 6: Any advise for others?
TORU and IKUKO: If you are married, do STM as a couple! Meeting people as a couple gives more chance to serve them. Husband must not feel alone.