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God is with Us. Immanuel.

A Letter from Thomas Goetz, serving in Japan

Summer 2022

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Dear friends,

In Japan, the academic year begins in April. We have just started our second semester at Hokusei Gakuen University. And with that is our Fall Semester English Chapel program, where we gather to meet weekly to hear a variety of speakers. We plan to meet face to face. However, that may change due to conditions beyond our control. But, until that time, we look forward to meeting in person. 

During the summer holiday, I could get caught up on some reading, and finish up a presentation for a conference and garden. How about you? What was memorable? I hope you had a peaceful summer as I did. But that has not always been the case for everyone at all times. 

In Psalm 79:8-9, we hear the Psalmist asking for help from the Lord and not remembering our ancestors’ iniquities, wrongdoings, or cruelties. The speaker asks for God’s compassion to come because they are depressed. This expression “very low” means that things in that person’s life are bad. We do not know what the speaker means exactly as bad or just how bad the bad has been, but it is bad. 

Imagine accidents happening—a chain of unforeseen events unfolding in sequence. It can feel like God is far away. I once heard a folk song called “When I’m Down for the Count!” that went like this:

You might say that I am kind of a lucky man, and lately, I have had lots of luck, but all of it has been bad. And I take a look around me, and I wonder what became of all the friends I had.

More than a cute song, “down for the count” is an idiom, an expression with the meaning of being tired or wanting to give up. For example, my pet dog is down for the count after playing all day in the park. I was so tired that I was down for the count as soon as I went to bed. I don’t know if he’ll ever leave the hospital; his illness has him down for the count.

We all have been there. And the song continues by having us wonder if the singer has permanently become depressed and bitter with life. Not at all. The singer brings in their best friend, someone who is there not just in good but also in bad times. 

This song is about resilience! 

As it continues: 

When I’m down for the count! That’s when I can count on you. 
When I’m down for the count! That’s when I know that you’ll come through. 
No, there’s not any doubt. That’s what love is all about
And with you around, there is no way I can lose, 
Because when I am down for the count, that’s when I can count on you. 

This song is also about relationships, trust and belonging. This song is about love. 

Whom is this songwriter singing about? A friend, a husband or wife, a pet or God. 

We all have been tired, depressed and “down for the count.” There was a time when a young Christian was down for the count. In 1 Timothy 2:1-7, we read about Paul giving helpful advice about how to keep going. 

First, pray for everyone: kings and all in high positions. Why? So that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 

But that was not enough. For Paul, it was an opportunity to teach Timothy to honor God. The very name in Greek Τιμόθεος (Timόtheos) means “one who honors God,” from τιμή or “honor” and θεός meaning “god.”

The name and its meaning: more than a coincidence? No. It was all part of a plan. Paul says that God desires everyone to be saved or protected and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If there is knowledge of the truth, then there must be other knowledge that distracts us from it. 

False gods surround us. We created them ourselves. Recall the song “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. In short, it is about being lost in the pantheon of modern consumerism. 

And the people bowed and prayed – To the neon god they made.

People idolize their neon signs, worshiping them as gods. They have converted to the new religion of money, appearances, and trappings. 

The advertising industry, which makes billboards and online ads, serves as a prophet of the new god. At the same time, ads and commercials whisper in the sound of silence as the only audible noise, cajoling people into buying things they otherwise do not need.

What would Paul say if he were here? 

There is one God, and Jesus Christ, the mediator between God and humankind, not advertisements that tell us how to look and be cool, but Christ Jesus, himself human and equally so, God. And how do we know this? Paul assures Timothy that Jesus Christ gave himself up as a substitute for all. At the right time, he died on the cross for our redemption. And for this, Paul was appointed a messenger and teacher of faith and truth.

Every person is made in the image of God. Our worth is found in what God attributes to each of us, regardless of race, religion, gender, ability, or what we have. While we may feel down, stepped on, or rolled over, we are much more—our creator who redeems and sustains, not for a one-time event, but for all time desires to be with us. Immanuel. 



Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:

Dear Partners in God’s Mission,

What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.

We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.

We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:

Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.

Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).

Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit to search by last name.

Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).




Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give, please visit

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

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