Carrying the message of God's love takes many people around the world.
And that's why Keith Olson, who spent his teen years in Fort Dodge, will be living in Sapporo, Japan, on the northern island of Hokkaido through next March.
The son of Tim and Dr. Ilene Olson, Keith Olson and his wife, Celia, joined forces with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship for an individual placement, short-term missionary trip, leaving the states at the end of July.
Celia and Keith Olson left the U.S. in late July for eight months of missionary work with individual placement to the city of Sapporo, Japan, through Overseas Missionary Fellowship International.
"We chose this particular organization because of its emphasis on the indigenous church," the couple writes in a goodbye letter to friends and family. "Missionaries from outside Japan are there to serve as supporters, with the intention of uplifting the Japanese church so that it can stand on its own. Our specific tasks will be to join in the work of a local church in student ministry and in worship music ministry and to give concerts."
They will be working with the Satsunae Lighthouse Church.
Only 1.5 percent of the Japanese population are Christians.
How to help:
Keith Olson, a member of Grace Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge during his teen years, and his wife, Celia, are in Sapporo, Japan, as members of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship.
For the eight-month mission, the couple needs close to $40,000, which pays expenses and allows them to study the Japanese language.
To contribute, a check made payable to Overseas Missionary Fellowship in the name of Keith and Celia Olson may be sent to Serve Asia - OMF International, 10 W. Dry Creek Circle, Littleton, CO 80120-4413. Donations also may be made at www.omfconnect.org/ with the designation of Keith and Celia Olson.
Both Olsons graduated from Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with masters of Christian studies degrees. His concentration was in Biblical studies, hers in Christianity and the arts. She completed an art thesis project, "Praise the Lord with Stringed Instruments: Instrumental Music as Participation and Contemplation."
It was at a mission fest at Regent College when the couple, now married four years, first heard of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. To them, the fit was perfect.
"Our specific tasks will be to join in the work of a local church in student ministry and in worship music ministry and to give concerts," Olson said. "Celia is particularly interested to continue the work she started in her arts thesis and to see how instrumental music can be a bridge in cross-cultural situations."
Both Olsons have undergraduate degrees in music. He plays the piano, and she plays the cello, talent that will be used during concerts and services.
He said, however, his particular interest lies in teaching biblical studies and ministering to those on the fringes of society.
Wherever they work, whatever they do, it will be under the leadership of long-term missionaries and leaders in the local church. While doing that work, they intend to study the Japanese language and culture.
After this initial program ends, the couple will decide if what they've found in Japan is what they want.
"Our desire in going for this short time is to learn more about the needs of the Japanese church and the Japanese people," the Olsons write, "and see if our gifts are well suited to meet any of those needs. It could be that God will call us to work in Japan for the rest of our lives."
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org