When Valerie was seven years old, she received a school assignment to draw what she wanted to be when she grew up. That was the first time that Valerie remembers wanting to be a missionary. Thirteen years later, one of the speakers at a Campus Crusade retreat talked about the need for more Christian missionaries in Japan. As Valerie listened, it was as if God shone a light into her soul. He said to her, “This is where I want you to go.” She immediately tried to obey, but obstacle after obstacle stood in her way. Through more than a decade of preparation, God taught her many lessons, and brought her together with her husband, Peter. Years later, she would realize that time of preparation was vital to her future ministry with the Japanese.
Val’s hobbies in Okinawa
Peter has had a desire for ministry since high school. However, until he met Valerie he had never really considered the idea that he could be a missionary in Japan. He had always thought that Japan was out of reach both culturally and linguistically (even though his mother is Japanese, she never learned the Japanese language and neither did he). When his Japanese grandmother died that all changed. During her time in the hospital, the Japanese pastor from her church spent time with his grandfather, who became a Christian at the age of 90! It was at that point that God spoke to Peter’s heart. If He could bring Peter’s grandfather to faith at 90, there were 130 million other Japanese just like him who needed Christ.
Peter’s hobbies in Okinawa
Peter & Valerie Limmer are working with the local church in Okinawa, Japan, to build relationships with people in their community and share the good news about Jesus with them.
Once its own kingdom, called the Ryuukyuuan kingdom, Okinawa has its own distinctive culture, religion, and languages.
The Okinawan experience during World War II was deeply traumatic. During that time, Okinawans were trapped between the warring forces of the Japanese, who conscripted civilians into building military infrastructure rather than letting them evacuate to safety in the months preceding the Battle of Okinawa; and the Americans, who the Okinawans were told would torture them if they were caught.
The streets of Okinawa literally flowed with blood in those days, and in the end the deaths of Okinawans would more than double those of American and Japanese military personnel combined.
Research now shows that post-traumatic stress, such as that experienced by holocaust survivors, can be passed from one generation to the next. We have seen this to be true in Okinawa as well. In the case of Okinawans, this has fed an incredibly passionate love for peace, and the deep conviction that "life is precious”.
In our home city of Itoman, there is a war memorial unlike any other. It lists the names of every person who died there, whether Okinawan, Japanese, or American. There is no distinction between the nationalities, for all life is precious. The list is still growing as bodies continue to be unearthed.
The people of Okinawa are incredibly gentle and kind. We now are praying that soon the streets of Okinawa will flow with a different kind of blood: the blood of Jesus that can cleanse, and heal, and restore. Okinawans love peace, and we are eager to introduce them to the Prince of Peace Himself.
God has made extravagant promises to use Okinawa to reach many other parts of Asia with the gospel. We are excited to see these promises, which He's given to many different people (ourselves included), come to pass. What will He do next?