Where You Go They Will Go

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Where You go I will go

Where You stay I will stay

Where You lead me I’ll remain

Though our lands we may leave

To each promise we cling

In Your presence we find our home

When I wrote these lyrics, I thought about them from several perspectives. I thought of future missionaries who would commit themselves to the field. I thought of people like myself, struggling to stay there. But until two weeks ago, there was one perspective that never crossed my mind: that of a parent.

From April 26-28, I had the privilege of leading the worship singing at the Asian Access 50th anniversary celebration in Jakarta, Indonesia. Asian Access (A2) is a mission organization that does leadership development throughout Asia. Over 150 leaders, missionaries, and their families came, including over 50 members from Japan.

The Evergreen SGV delegation

Since the attendees heralded from over 10 countries, I hesitated to introduce any new songs. But a couple months earlier, an A2 missionary attended a women’s retreat in Japan where fellow Evergreen SGVer Bethany Chang led my song, “Where You Go.” Hearing I would be at the Jakarta gathering, she contacted me to request I share the song with the A2 family.

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Throughout the conference, several missionaries told me the song spoke to them. One shared how she made the chorus lyrics the theme of her second four-year term which just began. Several told me the weight of the words got them choked up the first time singing it.

But the testimony that moved me the most was that of a missionary father. As his family rode a bus through Jakarta city, he saw the surrounding poverty and hoped the Lord would open his kids’ eyes to notice the same. At which point his daughter turned to him and asked, “How old do you need to be to go on an adventure [missions trip]?”

“Why? Are you interested?” the father asked in reply.

“Ian [her younger brother, not me!] said he wants to come back here one day to help,” she said.

His kids were looking; and the Lord was opening not just their eyes, but their hearts.

The Takamoto family

The Takamoto family, missionaries in Ishinomaki

The father, moved by this event, shared how the lyrics to “Where You Go” had become his prayer — only now for his kids:

Where You go, they will go

Where You stay, they will stay

Where You lead themthey’ll remain

Though their lands they may leave, to each promise they’ll cling

In Your presence, they’ll find their home

I’m not a parent, but I’d imagine making such a commitment would be harder than doing it for oneself. In the past five years, a handful of parents have contacted me about their sons and daughters who are considering long-term missions. They ask for prayer not just for their kids, but for themselves, as they wrestle with the possibility of their children leaving.

And yet what could be closer to the heart of God the Father? Though we who “go” share in knowing Christ as one who leaves to enter another culture, parents who “send” share in knowing Him who gave His only begotten Son. Would not God call many parents to embrace such a call to incarnate this love? Would not God also be able comfort such parents, having experienced such loss?

My parents and I in Kumamoto last year, visiting to meet Chis parents for the first time.

My parents and I in Japan last year to meet Chi’s parents for the first time.

Leaving family has surely been the hardest part of moving to Tokyo. Yet I’m grateful my parents blessed my “going” five years ago. Two days ago they arrived here to spend 10 days together. I wish the other 355 days a year could be with them living just 15 minutes away like before. But days like these remind us of God’s mysterious blessings. Who’d have imagined that we Japanese-Americans would be eating sushi in Tokyo over a hundred years after our relatives left here for Hawaii? We get to share in “adventures” now that would never have been possible had I stayed.

If the Lord grants us children, I hope Chi and I will be just as obedient in giving them to the Lord. Perhaps now we have a song we can one day sing over them.

“Little Ian” with “Big Ian”

Note: One of the Takamotos’ ministries, Nozomi Project, will be coming to Evergreen SGV on Friday, May 26, 7-9pm. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area!

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  • Steph says:

    Yes!! So true!! Giving your kids up to the Lord is hard, but so important! God has a plan for each child and we as parents need to be open to His calling for each of them …Wherever He may lead them! PS I hope to see little Ian’s and little Chi’s running around soon! 😉

    • iannagata says:

      thanks steph! we’re excited for your next little one coming too. we’ll keep you posted on our end!

  • Elliott Snuggs says:

    Thanks Ian for leading A2 in worship. It was a wonderful chance for our extended community to paid Him together and this song was a highlight for many!

  • Katie says:

    What a blessing and encouragement!!

  • C says:

    Ian, Truly, Truly I can say that God is good for that he give to encouragement to build now and for generation to come.

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