Babienco Missions

Stories and Updates from Michael and Caitlyn's mission service in Japan

Japanese Camp Meeting

“Mom, whatever happens when you go to church, don’t let them brainwash you!”

Aki is a first-generation Japanese Adventist who I (Michael) met at the recent Japanese SDA camp meeting held at Leoni Meadows Camp and Retreat Center in California. Aki grew up as a non-Christian in Japan. Occasionally, Bible workers from denominations such as the Mormons would come by their home. The Bible workers were fed meals and treated kindly, but Aki’s mom shut down the conversation as soon as they brought up the Bible or anything related to religion.

At one point, Aki’s mom was sold some land by a Seventh-day Adventist, who invited her mom to church. She politely replied, “No, I’m too busy.” The invitations kept coming, and she kept refusing. This went on for the next fifteen years! Finally, however, Aki’s mom decided that she should be polite to this very insistent Seventh-day Adventist and go to church. Just once.

Aki, concerned that the church people would brainwash her mother, was quite insistent that this was a terrible idea. But Aki’s mom went anyway.

She came back smiling and talking about how she enjoyed her time. Aki was not thrilled with this turn of events. “I knew it. Mom, you’re brainwashed!” But that one little visit was all it took to begin the conversion story for Aki’s entire family.

On Sabbath, I got to talk for nearly two hours with Aki and her husband about Japanese culture, stories and other tidbits about Japan. It was then that I heard the story I just shared with you about the importance of persistence in ministry—even if the fruits are not realized for fifteen years! It was a wonderful conversation among many that took place during the weekend event.

The theme of the camp meeting was ikigai, a Japanese word defined as the reason why you choose to get up each morning. The weekend was filled with meetings, many conversations and great food. I filled several pages with notes that will be helpful as we continue to learn about Japan. Here are a few takeaways and things that happened:
  • I watched a natto-eating contest. Natto is a Japanese fermented soybean dish with a pungent flavor and gluey texture. Thankfully, I didn’t have to participate!
  • I learned that Japan is the least reached country open to evangelism and that the Japanese SDA population is the fastest-declining SDA ethnic group in the world.
  • A Japanese pastor and I discussed the difficulties of some of the Japanese Bible translations. Several use uncommon language that can be harder to understand, making it difficult to conduct detailed studies on words or ideas due to how the language works.
  • Some tech workers from Japan move to Silicon Valley for 5-6 years on an exchange program and often send their children to an SDA Japanese school there. Doing this keeps their children up to date with their Japanese education while introducing them to Christianity—perhaps for the first time—before returning to Japan.
  • I met a young man who will serve in Southeast Asia as a missionary for the next two years, and we had many good conversations about missions and his upcoming work. I also met a high-schooler I encouraged to serve as a student missionary in a few years (perhaps even with us in Japan!) once he graduated high school.
Upcoming Speaking Appointments
  • Church service at the Pittsburgh SDA Church in Pennsylvania on September 3
  • Advent Hope vespers on September 10 at 7 p.m. in Loma Linda, California
Would you like us to come and speak for your church service or vespers and share about missions, tell mission stories, and talk about the needs of the unreached? Please let us know
Praises & Prayer Requests
  • The Japanese SDA camp meeting was well worth attending.
  • Please pray that our upcoming speaking appointments go smoothly. We are traveling for several weekends in a row and then have a work trip to Tennessee after that. So the next month will be very busy.
  • Our pre-launch language learning is going alright. We don’t have a lot of vocabulary or knowledge yet, but we are learning—even if it’s very slow. It is challenging but fun!
  • Please join us in praying that we will finish our support team building and fundraising this year so we can go to training next May and launch next fall. Our goal would be to spend the beginning of next year language learning and preparing for our launch into the field.
We would love to hear back from you. Always feel free to reach out, ask questions or just let us know how you are doing. You can also give us a call or text at ***.***.****. We would be happy to pray for any requests you might have.

Thanks so much for your support!
Michael & Caitlyn Babienco
Volunteer Missionary Candidates
Adventist Frontier Missions