I was raised by two loving, Christian parents, and I can't remember a time when church wasn't an important and regular part of my life. I got baptized when I was six years old after making a personal profession of faith in Christ, which had been spurred on when my parents withheld me from partaking in communion, saying that it was an act for believing Christians only. I didn't have a dramatic transformational experience at that point, but, looking back, I know that God has persevered and cultivated my faith in Him over the course of my entire life. Over many years, each with its own trials and blessings, I have made missteps, but God has remained faithful toward me and my family, and has taught me to rely on Christ's work and not my own. I trust that God will continue to work in and through my life for his own eternal glory, even, if not especially, in the face of my own weaknesses.
I became a Christian at a young age, and was baptized when I was 6. Throughout my life, God has had His hand of protection and guidance upon me, even when many things have gone wrong. I grew up trying to be perfect thinking I have to earn God's love, and I have always struggled with people pleasing. Entering adulthood, I sinned so severely that I thought God might abandon me. He did not, however. Instead, He taught me a great lesson through redeeming me from my sin. He opened my eyes to my sinful arrogance, and showed me mercy, leading me to repentance and forgiveness in Christ alone. I am forever grateful for God's grace after learning the difference between self-righteous legalism and true faith in Jesus.
The Gib kids
Our kids are missionaries too! And they have a passion to tell others about Jesus. On a recent trip to Osaka, Emma was sitting in the KIX airport after landing and asked, "why aren't we telling everybody here about Jesus?" Her enthusiasm and sense of urgency was an encouragement and a challenge to us. We are excited that God is using our kids to serve the Japanese people in unique and special ways, and we are happy to be sharing this whole experience with them.
How we became missionaries
Curiosity turns to compassion
When I (Carla) was in college, I decided to take Japanese for fun, but the Lord had a purpose for this even though I did not know it yet. I studied abroad my junior year in Nagoya, Japan. When I went to Japan, I knew it would be hard to be a Christian there, but I had no real idea how hard. I went with an underlying attitude of arrogance about knowing Jesus when the Japanese did not. God decided to deal with my self-righteous heart most intimately during this time. He broke me, and He healed me.
Having been given $1,000 to research a festival called Setsubun, I set out to learn as much as I could about the cultural activities of this day on which the Japanese celebrated the change from winter to spring. I had looked for a church upon arriving in Nagoya, but had been unsuccessful in finding one. Having lived in spiritual starvation for a month at this point, and believing myself to be righteous enough to confront spiritual darkness in the temples and shrines on my own, I was a prime target for the enemy. In my desire to please my professors, and in my fear of offending the Japanese people around me, I began to take part in the ceremony, even though the Holy Spirit was making me aware in my heart that I should not be doing so. I ate the ceremonial food, played the lottery and received a miniature golden idol, took the stage to throw some beans, denied that I was bowing to an idol when I bowed along with all of the rest of the people, and so forth. Throughout the day, I felt God compelling me to stop, but I was spiritually weak, and had already erected the idolatry of the fear of man in my heart against God. I regret my sin on this day, but I now know and believe the Lord purposed to take down the idol of people pleasing and self-righteousness that was already in my heart through this very trial. At the end of the day, I petted a bronze deer and sought to remove my sickness through idolatry at a Shinto shrine. In that moment, there was no covering my sin; there was no arguing that I didn't mean to do so. The feeling in my soul when I had grieved the Holy Spirit was too much to bear. I sought refuge in the forest and begged God to forgive me that night, unsure of whether He would do so. I knew that night that I deserved hell, when every day previously I had believed that I was earning heaven. I knew I was a sinner in that moment, and susceptible to falling to any temptation, and therefore no better than any other human on earth. I lived in fear of God's judgment for two months, worrying that He would let me go, that I had sinned too much for Him to want me anymore. I felt like a dirty, worthless pretender.
Then one day out of nowhere, a Japanese stranger yelled at me across the street, "Hey! You are a Christian!" Feeling the spiritual strength to overcome the fear of what might happen if I claimed to be such, I answered "Yes," and began to weep for my previous sin and the grace to finally be able to affirm my belief when I had so blatantly denied it beforehand. It was like the story of Peter's denial and Christ's forgiveness toward him had come true for me. ("Peter do you love me?" "Yes," he answered three times.) This woman took me to her church, where I worshipped for the first time with Japanese Christians and she prayed for me. God had sent her to that street to minister to my broken soul, and I experienced His grace freshly among the people that I had previously looked down on. Going through all of this changed my heart completely, and made me deeply aware of the spiritual plight of the Japanese. I was personally devastated by it, was redeemed by God's grace out of it, and brought to worship together with the believers who are a minority within it. Through this experience, God has made me care deeply for the Japanese. His heart breaks over their lostness, and so does my own.
"When Carla told me about her experience in Japan, I acknowledged it but I didn't feel personally moved to return with her to serve that country. Over the course of time, however, God led me to set aside my selfish plans and to work toward the spread of the gospel among the Japanese." - Daniel
Going through all of this changed my heart completely, and made me deeply aware of the spiritual plight of the Japanese.
We discussed and prayed about becoming missionaries to Japan, and in 2008 we began to seek out potential opportunities to serve. Though it has been many years since, God has answered many of our prayers and has opened up many opportunities which have uniquely equipped us for full time ministry in Japan. We have both attended seminary, received Japanese language instruction, planted a new church in our hometown, ministered to dozens of Japanese foreign exchange students, joined a missionary team in Osaka, taken multiple trips to Japan, had 4 children, honed relevant professional skill sets, and been appointed as missionaries within a sending organization that is dedicated to reaching the Japanese people with the gospel. We believe that God has orchestrated everything in the last 9 years to prepare us for this ministry. Even many things which we thought were secondary at the time have become vital elements of our preparation. God has grown our faith during this waiting period, and we are now ready and eager to go to Japan as soon as possible.
Our missionary timeline: 2007-Present
Jan. 2007Carla studies abroad in JapanCarla discovers the lack of gospel witness and Christian presence in Japan while studying in Nagoya.
Jun. 2008We get married
July 2008We start looking into missionsWe approach the International Mission Board (IMB) about opportunities to serve as missionaries in Japan. They inform us that we need seminary training.
Jan. 2009Carla begins studying at Liberty SeminaryShe pursues a M.A. in Intercultural Studies by taking online classes.
Sep. 2009We visit Japan togetherWe travel to Japan for two weeks to visit Japanese Christians and to give Daniel his first glimpse of the country.
Jan. 2010Emma is born
Aug. 2011Daniel gets a job at ETSUThis job includes educational benefits which enable Daniel to go to seminary, but it also provides him with valuable professional experience in higher education.
Oct. 2011David is born
Dec. 2012We start a new church in the U.S.We join with several others to form a core group of church planters in Johnson City, TN, and start Christ-Reconciled Church.
Jan. 2013Daniel begins studying at Southern SeminaryHe pursues an M.A. in Missiology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, taking hybrid online/on-ground courses.
Jul. 2013Isaac is born
June 2015We join the Genesis team and become missionary appointees with ChristarThings finally start coming together!
July 2015Daniel visits Osaka to work with GICHe assists with running a TOEFL seminar and the first Genesis Cafe event.
Oct. 2015Josiah is born
Mar. 2017Daniel leaves ETSUThis is a big decision! Daniel quits his salaried position in order to pursue missionary work.
June 2017We complete our Christar training requirementsThis requires four non-consecutive weeks of intensive training in Dallas, TX, a Perspectives class, a language acquisition class, half-a-dozen book reports, and regular practice in discipleship and evangelism.
Aug. 2017We sell our houseWe move into a temporary rental property in preparation for leaving the U.S.
Sep. 2017Carla and Emma visit OsakaThey do some pre-move planning and visit teammates and friends. This is also Emma's first time in Japan.
???Our next step is to move to Japan
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