We are Dennis and Laurie King, retirees who raised three children in a small West Michigan community. Little did we know that none of them would remain in the midwest, and our eldest, not even on this continent. While this was not the way we imagined our lives with our adult children, God once again has proven that His ways are higher than our ways. Our oldest son and his family moved to Okinawa, Japan in early 2021 where our daughter-in-law serves as a Navy Chaplain. Our first opportunity to visit them came in October 2022 for the birth of our 3rd granddaughter. We expected to enjoy being with family and have some new adventures in a new land. We could not have IMAGINED however, all that God had in store for us, and the depth of connection we would experience with the military families serving so far from home, or with the kind and gentle Okinawan people.
Each Tuesday night we shared a meal, Bible study, and prayer with a “missional community,” a small group of military families from our son’s church. Here hardworking military families came together sharing each others burdens and joys and leaning into the Word of God to sustain them. Whether it was in these small groups, church (where most congregants are young and military) a men’s or women’s retreat, they shared the heavy toll their jobs, with continually changing circumstances and deployments, take on their marriages and families. We heard over and over again that these young couples needed encouragement and mentors to walk alongside them to keep their marriages strong. Pillar Church of Okinawa emphasized the need and agreed that a couple who love Jesus, with 43 years of marriage under their belts, would be a huge blessing and offered that we could lead our own missional community. We are beyond thrilled to be able to come alongside these young Christians serving our country so far from home, to share all that God has done in our marriage and its beauty when we do it His way.
It didn’t take God long to also place a deep love for the Okinawan people in our hearts, where less than 1% of the population is Christian. We began relationships with many parents of children attending our granddaughters’ school, as well as the owner and employees of a local coffee shop. We shared dinners, sing along Christmas carols and family gatherings. So, long before it was time to return home to the U.S. God began stirring a desire in us to return and serve those living in Okinawa, be they American military or Japanese. He’s given us a wonderful story to tell and we have found His love and faithfulness to be beyond compare.
We intend to spend 6 months, from November to May, coming alongside Pillar church in small groups strengthening military marriages and individual men and women. We’ve connected with a Christian home church (also connected to Pillar) led by a young Japanese couple where we will teach English to Japanese families by studying the Bible together. God also brought a wonderful couple working as missionaries in mainland Japan into our lives and they are willing to coach us regarding the Japanese culture and ways to share the gospel with them. We plan to host gatherings at our rental home and local parks where we will bring snacks and engage in conversation with Japanese families. Laurie will be tutoring in math at Okinawa Christian School International and Dennis will be doing volunteer work at HelpOki, a local service organization.
We would be so honored if you would join us in prayer for this work, both with the military community and the precious people of Okinawa. If you would be willing to partner with us financially to assist in our apartment and car rental and living expenses we would be so thankful.
Dennis and Laurie