Bryan and Amy Lenartz

Bryan and Amy Lenartz are headed to Japan as missionaries this month. Pastor Walton spoke with them this week about deputation and prayers for their first term.

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Episode transcript:

Chris Harper: Welcome to Harvest Time. My name is Chris Harper, and our host on this program is pastor Gary Walton, the Lead Pastor at Harvest Baptist Church. Every week, we spend these 25 minutes together telling you the stories of our church, interviewing our members and other friends of the ministry. We’d like to invite you to join us at Harvest Baptist Church this week. We have 2 services on Sunday, the first at 8:45 AM, the second at 10:45 AM.

We have Spanish translation during the 8:45 AM service, Japanese and Korean translation at 10:45, and that’s also when we live stream at, Let’s begin today’s harvest time by welcoming pastor Gary Walton. Hi, pastor.

Gary Walton: Hey, hafa adai Chris. This is, actually kind of a cool Sunday for us. We’re coming off of our missions conference, which has been a fantastic, you know, about a half a week together of just focusing on God’s call to the church and our personal responsibility. We’ve had a number of missionaries with us and over the next few weeks in harvest time, you’re gonna hear some testimonies of God’s work in there in their lives and his call in their lives and, that we will have that here in just a minute. But, this Sunday, following the missions conference, we have the opportunity to actually be sending off, 2 different groups, I guess, 1 family and then a group to be part of our Go teams.

I mean we talk at harvest about our calling and that we kind of use this theme come, grow, serve and go and God’s call for us to go into the fields that are ripe for harvest. And, this week we’ll be launching out 2 specific families. The Bryan and Amy Lenartz family are heading out to Japan. I’m going to introduce them, and we’re going to talk about that for a minute. And then we have just a missions team that’s going to Palau.

And so both of those things are happening on Sunday. We’ll get a chance to talk about God’s call to us as a result of the the messages that we’ve heard and the scriptures teaching. What are we going to do about it? And, this Sunday, we’ll follow that up. And we’d love to invite you to come and be part of what God’s doing here at harvest.

Really good to have Bryan and Amy Lenartz back on Harvest Time. This is not unfamiliar to you at all. You guys have been in these seats a number of different times, but on your way through Guam now this time to Japan. So welcome back to harvest and to Harvest Time, you guys.

Bryan Lenartz: Oh, it’s good to be back. Thanks for having us, Pastor.

Amy Lenartz: Thank you. We’re glad to be here.

Gary Walton: Yeah. It, I don’t know how you guys have felt, but for me and I think for a lot of people, it just feels like this little parenthesis of time from when you left, you know, just over a year ago to right now, it just feels so natural that slides back in. Bryan and Amy are here. Their kids are here. This is where, you know, it’s just very comfortable.

But we know god’s called you past here, both encouraging and maybe hard coming through.

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. You know, we feel this this is our home. When we think of home, we think of Guam. We think of Harvest. I’ve been in the office this week, and right when I walk out the door, I still, by habit, turn to the left to check my mailbox.

Mhmm. And it’s not my mailbox anymore. So we definitely feel, in some ways, like we just went on a long trip and we’re back home. So it is a mixture. It’s very bittersweet.

Amy Lenartz: Yeah. We’ve so enjoyed seeing friends and, our church family. They’ve all been so encouraging. A I think our kids, they’re not sad to not be in school, but I’m a little sad they’re not in school. I’m learning from the great teachers here, but we’re glad to be back.

Gary Walton: Bryan and Amy, if, you’re new to Harvest or listening today and are not familiar, lived here on Guam and part of a Harvest staff for 13 years. God, brought them here individually and then connected them here. And then they’ve served together as a family, on our pastoral team, over these years. Amy is a PA and worked for a number of years at Pacific Cardiology right here on on Guam. And, and then in the in the process of God’s direction, chose to make known to you guys that he wanted your ministry and your gifts in, you know, in some place else.

And so, he started to lead you beyond that. I wanna ask you a little bit about that, but maybe let me back up, just to make sure people would hear this and just your story, your spiritual story, from when you’re young and then God bringing you here and just a little better of the leading. Why don’t you start with that, Bryan?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. I, I grew up kind of having a respect towards Christianity. I was, we would casually go to church, and around 15 years old, my brother-in-law, David, who became a Christian, really just started opening up and sharing the scriptures with me. He was a new Christian. He didn’t know much and he just shared everything that he knew and he poured out into my life and that was the first time the gospel made sense.

It was like the light bulbs turned on and very early on, the Lord began working in my heart just just to give everything I had. It was a pretty radical, salvation and watching God work at public high school and going to church. And slowly, I started seeing friends dwindle. And, my youth pastor was John Zimmer, who was a who’s our one of our missionaries in Palau, who who just poured out his life and became my life example. He would meet me at the public school, and we would pray together.

And Just watching him and going on mission trips with him put a hunger on my heart and next thing you know, it was the Lord just kept intervening and pointing me to that next step spiritually that seemed so overwhelming at the time. And that led to Guam, and that led to marriage. That wasn’t, overwhelming. That was the easy stuff for me. And, and then, ultimately, now to Japan.

Gary Walton: Pretty cool, Bryan. I’ve heard, you know, your story. You know, I’ve talked about it a number of times. I didn’t remember the piece where, did you say your cousin?

Bryan Lenartz: My brother-in-law.

Gary Walton: Brother-in-law. You were 15. How old was he?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. He he was probably about 25, 26. Him and my sister were, they weren’t married. They were together, and they had a child. And at work, a coworker just started sharing the gospel with him, and his life just completely changed.

They ended up, going off and having a secret marriage because they thought this we need to get married. And, they went off, just started living for the Lord, and I looked up to him. My dad wasn’t around too much growing up, so he was someone I really looked up to as a male figure in my life. Yeah. And when I watched him just, you know, point me to the Lord, it it was a process for sure, but that’s the avenue the Lord chose for my life.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Wow. That’s great. Amy, what about you?

Amy Lenartz: So I grew up in a Christian home. My mom and dad were saved and we were in church every church except when we were sick. And, I’m super thankful for that heritage. And, mom and dad put us in a Christian school, so I know it was a sacrifice for them. But they felt that that sacrifice was worth it to give us a Christian education.

So I was super thankful and, I went off to Bible College and studied science because I’m a little bit nerdy like that. And, God directed me to go to PA school. And then after working as a PA for a few years, I knew that God wanted to use I wanted to use my gifts for his glory. And, I started looking for some other opportunities and, God brought harvest into my life. So I came out here and helped in the school of school health office for a little bit.

And then I met Bryan and I guess the rest is history.

Gary Walton: Rest is history. Yeah. A few kids later.

Amy Lenartz: Yeah. A few kids later.

Gary Walton: Little transfer of your life direction. Yeah. Well, Bryan and Amy, anybody that’s been around knows them and loves them. They have a heart for people. Their home has always been a place of hospitality, open open to anybody and everybody, consistently inviting people to be there and share life together.

Just had such a significant influence here. And in the process of all that time, Bryan, God began putting a burden on your heart to to leave both comfortable and useful here, but that God had a different plan for the next season of life. Right?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. I like to say it was partially your fault, pastor, because, you know, you taught me a prayer and that prayer was to pray that the Lord Lord would always put us in a spot where we can be most effective for his glory.

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Bryan Lenartz: And Amy and I, we formed a habit where we would try to kind of assess every year what did the last year look like and then what do we need to do to help increase our effectiveness for the following year. So sometimes we would actually write a yearly mission statement and things like that. And when we hit our 10 year mark on island, I asked that question in a bigger way and I said, okay. If we’re gonna be here the rest of our life, which we would have loved if that’s what the Lord would have had, we said, what can we do to become more effective? And we decided to start working on the language of one of the people groups on island to help reach better this this island.

So we chose Japanese because we love Japan. We did a bunch of our family vacations there. We had a lot of Japanese friends, and we just felt like this was the language that the Lord was pointing us to. So as we start working on the language, we also started reaching out strategically to that people group. We would have Japanese nights in our home.

We would just, get involved in the Japanese community here at our church. And over time that passion grew and grew and grew. And it got to a point whenever I would see a Japanese person, I would just stare at them. And I thought this is creepy. You know, like like, I gotta stop staring, and I couldn’t just get the thought on my mind.

And over a season, the Lord just began impressing on my heart, and then I I went to the rest of the team, which was a very hard meeting for me because we love this place. I just said, this is what the Lord’s doing, and I believe that it’s also a local church work of a calling for someone like that. And you guys took a sweet season of prayer and fasting for us and we felt the confirmation from the rest of the team and the church body that God’s hand was on this. And we went in faith, and and the Lord blessed tremendously.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Those were interesting, faith stretching, months and really a couple of years for you, because God was using you so effectively here because, you’re loved here and you loved it here. Yeah. It’s it was, I think, a challenge to figure out, alright, god. Are you moving us on?

What’s this process? And and it’s interesting God’s calling our life. It’s not always, like, immediate, but God did confirm that very clearly. I watched it happen in your life in a couple different ways. Some, you know, kind of moments and then just some other just ways that God kept equipping and training you.

It’s really cool to look back on. Amy, what about you? So Bryan’s kind of processing through this. I know you guys are talking through it together. How about, you know, God’s confirmation for you?

Amy Lenartz: I think mostly God gave me a burden for the Japanese when we I helped in the English as a second language class. When Bryan ran a lot of ministries, I didn’t always have a particular role except that I could usually jump in and help if they needed help. So, the first night we did English conversation class, Bryan needed a few extra English speakers. So he says, do you wanna do this? And that’s I wasn’t planning to do that, but I said, okay.

Sure. I’ll do that. And I actually really enjoyed that ministry. And during that time, there’s 3 Japanese ladies who came real regularly, and I just really enjoyed getting to know them. And during that time when we talk about holidays, I was just really burdened when they talk about how their holidays are really just spirits and worshiping ancestors and didn’t really have any real hope.

And so we had already loved Japan because we had been there for vacation a few times, but God used that time with those ladies to burden me specifically for the Japanese people.

Gary Walton: So how does that work? I mean, so you feel like you’re called to go and, you know, what’s next for you that really is just shows in Acts 13, right, you guys sensing God’s call, the church leadership fasting and praying and affirming that. Then what happened for you?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. And that was one of the questions because there was always a little bit of a dream of missions, but we always said we wouldn’t go unless we really felt that confirmation. And when that came, I was a little bit surprised that there wasn’t a lot of good material out there. This is what the next step looks like. Mhmm.

Because you essentially quit your jobs financially. You kind of go blank slate, which is a little bit scary, but we were convinced God’s hand was in this. And a lot of missionaries who come from, like, the states, they have a little bit of a luxury where they’ll, like, continue working at their job and they’ll travel out on weekends locally. And then as support comes in, they slowly do that. We we had to just so strange.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Support coming in. So, essentially, what we’re saying is that, asking churches, like-minded churches, if they would do what we see biblically happening in the New Testament. If they’d come along, you guys, and say, we would like to, you know, kind of make you part of our team, give you a portion of the salary as sort of, you know, missionaries or pastors from our group to go to another place. Right?

So but you have to figure out who’s gonna be part of the team. Right?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. So it’s a lot of organizing. I was on a lot of phone calls, which was difficult when it’s half around the world and you, at times, would have to stay up very late at night to make calls very early in the morning in the States. We set out our itinerary and churches agreed to have us come in and present where typically I would preach and Amy and I would share on the ministry and we would do some children’s ministry and some other types of things. And they would get to know us.

We would get to know them. And we were looking if this was a right fit in partnership for gospel ministry in Japan. So we have a collection of supporting churches and when you go out early on, I mean, you’re you’re kind of scraping the barrel, you know, income wise because you’re like, where where is this going to come from? And the Lord just in His goodness found fit to provide and you you see what that step of faith looks like because you’re jumping out and you’re like, I don’t know what this is gonna look like. But going through this, our faith has increased, just bountifully with this because we’ve watched him intervene and and not just the financial but provision and, Lord gave us houses while we were there to stay in and different things that our family got to see that we never got to see before.

And we look back and I do think we’re gonna have very fond memories of deputation. There’s obviously some difficult times with that type of life, but the Lord really blessed, and we’re walking away from this just so in awe at who our God is.

Gary Walton: You guys prayed 2 big prayers. I mean, I’m sure you prayed many more, you know, big prayers, but 2 specific things that felt like, you know, beyond human, you know, provision in some way. And in the last year, God’s answered both of them. Bryan, you wanna share me could you share one each? How do you wanna do that?

Amy Lenartz: Sure. So we prayed that our deputation would just take a year and, other people have told us it’s taken much longer. But as our children are growing, we just thought for our family, if God would allow us to have a 1 year deputation sorry, deputation, that would be a huge blessing. And, when we we started off, and we scheduled pretty heavily, we only had a few weeks off. And, we did have a month in June that was just really rough.

We had been at a lot of churches, hadn’t heard much back from anyone. Place we were staying was we were thankful to be there, but it was a little bit harder place to stay. And then but we just had to continue in faith on because we knew God called us to this. And then the next month, July, God just opened the doors and just support started flowing in. And so, by maybe in late November, we realized we didn’t need to schedule any more churches than the ones we had already scheduled because God had brought in our support.

So we’re super thankful for that.

Gary Walton: Yeah. For anybody maybe not real familiar with that process in that world, it really is an amazing provision of God. Miraculous. Surprising in some ways, which is what God likes to do. He surprises us with his faithfulness.

And, yeah, what a thrill I know for you guys, but for us too to walk along that path with you. And I’ve said this a few times when Bryan first communicated to me, hey, we’re praying that we do this in a year. You know, my conversation with him was trying to manage that they wouldn’t be discouraged. And my faith was not nearly as large as yours was, and I was really challenged and encouraged by that. So that’s really cool.

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. We we are amazed at who our God is. Yeah. You know, we recognize that. And I think sometimes when God answers in such a gigantic way, it strips anything away where you start to think like you had something to do with it or that because you just look at the magnitude of what he did and and wear an eye at it.

You know, we also we we had a couple big prayers, so I’m forgetting all the ones I shared, but I’m assuming, 2 of those prayers are kinda connected. We another prayer that we prayed is that the Lord, in my mind, I asked that He would give us 5 people when we were traveling that would give their heart towards missions. And the other one is that He would give us partners for Japan, which was some pretty big prayers. And that first prayer, I don’t know if we’ll know until we get to heaven Mhmm. But we heard it might have been 6, 7 individuals who verbalized a big commitment step towards missions, which was really awesome.

And some of those were people that said, I would never go on a mission trip. They said, it’s time. I need to take this step and I need to go. Others, I think, were considering a more bigger step, but we’ll see what the Lord has. The prayer though for our partners was one of the biggest prayers I’ve ever seen answered in my life.

We had a couple potential partnerships with some incredible people, people we love and we look up to and we’re thankful for, and these, partners theologically right where we want them to. But we are looking for, like, the best fit for our family with our particular abilities and gifts, and we just weren’t finding that right partnership. And we met a family in our candidate seminar, which is when we started this process, we gathered together with missionaries going to all these different places, and we just knocked it out of the park with this family. But they were going to the Netherlands, and over time, my wife and I would talk and we were looking for partners, and we said, man. We wish we could find a partner like these people.

And then we just I don’t even know the first time we started praying it, but we just said, why don’t we just start praying a crazy prayer that if the Lord would ever choose to redirect their paths to Japan, that he would do so. Now, that’s a hard prayer. I never wanna take someone from a different field. There’s a lot of unreached places, but there was just something to this relationship that I just felt like this is something we’re going to start praying for and we prayed pretty diligently, pretty regularly for this. And I remember giving him a call one day and he goes, how would you know to call me right now?

And I’m like, I don’t know. I just felt like I wanted to give you a call right now. He goes, We just got some news pertaining to their field they were going to that looked like it might be a closed door for them. And they said, we’re actually considering doing a survey trip to Japan. And they went on this trip in secret.

No one knew because they were 80% supported to the field they were going to, and they did this trip and it was still a pretty big process. And about a month and a half ago, they called us and said, we wanna join your team in Osaka. And so we officially have partners, Kyle and Natalie Klein, who are, great friends of ours. It’s a dream partnership for us and what we’re going to do. People, we just we love them and are great friends, but missionally we’re in tune with each other and we’re excited for this next step.

Gary Walton: That’s fantastic to see the way that God leads us in in the big things, in the small details. It’s been really fun to watch that through your eyes of faith. So you are gonna head out, kinda launch from Guam, right, on a plane, land in Japan next week. You leave February 12th. Is that the right date?

Amy Lenartz: March 12th.

Gary Walton: March 12th. February has already passed. March 12th. Mhmm. And then what?

What what’s what will you do? What’s the, you know, the mission? What what do you see happening?

Bryan Lenartz: Yeah. Maybe I’ll start on the name if you wanna add. So we really fine tune our first term because even when we were on Guam, it took a number of years before we saw, you know, compound interest on ministry. Right? You’re with the people, you’re building relationships, you’re building trust.

So in Japan, we know it’s gonna be a ministry we have to put in a number of years to build that trust for future long term ministry. So we are very focused on our 1st term of, one, shepherding our family, our kids through this big life change. They’re going to Japanese school. We’re walking in this with them, but then, giving everything we can to language. We’re doing intense language training for our 1st couple years because if you want to reach the heart, you’ve got to be able to speak to them like an individual That’s really our our 2 big focuses and then allowing the Lord to help shape and mold for what that second term of ministry looks like.

And, if the Lord would choose to give us some unique situations in the first term, we’re hoping for that for some gospel opportunities and relationships, maybe with some that know some English early on and things like that. But that’s really our focus to set ourselves up to have the most effective long term ministry in Japan.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Amy, anything to add to that?

Amy Lenartz: No. Just our 1st 2 years, that’s gonna be our job is to be learning Japanese and to learn the culture and hopefully, our whole family can do it together. And, yeah. We know it’s gonna be a challenge but we’re asking God for help and doing our best that we can to work hard at it.

Bryan Lenartz: She’s excited about IKEA. They’re going to IKEA in the 1st week.

Amy Lenartz: I work excited. Mostly, we have, like, we’ve lived in houses for 2 to 3 months at a time. So I think the kids and I are excited to have, like, one kind of semi permanent place for a few years

Gary Walton: Yeah.

Amy Lenartz: And to kinda set up our house and do that. But yeah.

Gary Walton: Well, I know that I already am, praying for personal fruit for you guys even in these next 2 years. The big picture of the of the philosophy of ministry that is going to come in time and as you settle in. But I know how you both are wired, and I know how you both are gifted. And I’m just going to pray that God would already give you some sense of the fruitfulness of the ministry by seeing Thank you. The relationships that could grow and people would come to faith because of just your relationships.

And then, of course, in the big picture of, you know, our missions philosophy, we’d love to see churches planted in Japan that are gospel, you know, promoting, so that, you know, the the truth of the scriptures would grow. And so it’s our burden for you as you launch out that these personal relationships would would result in churches we believe god’s plan is to impact the world through the local church. And so we’re really excited about your burden for that and know that he’s equipped you both for it. And, it’s been, it’s been good to have you here these days to see what god’s done over this last year and then watch the excitement of, you know, that first launch. And we want you to know we’re gonna be praying together along with you.

And, know that God’s got his hand on you.

Bryan Lenartz: Amen. Thank you.

Amy Lenartz: Thank you. We’re so thankful for our church family, and we couldn’t do it without our church family.

Gary Walton: Yeah. Amen.

Chris Harper: Well, thank you for listening to today’s harvest time. We want to invite you to services at Harvest Baptist Church this week. We have our first service at 8:40 5 AM Sunday morning, the second at 10:45 AM, Spanish translation at 8:45, Japanese and Korean translation at 10:45 AM, and that’s also when we bring you the service live here on 88.1 FM and at that 10:45 AM service. However you join us, we hope to see you this Sunday. Thanks again for listening to Harvest Time.

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