From Afar, But Close to the Heart

“I am not living in America right now, but not a day has gone by these past 3 months that I haven’t felt a strong physical and emotional toll about what is happening and I continue to pray so much for our country and for the world…” 

I (Joan) read these words from one of our LCMS missionaries on social media the other week; it reflected the reality for many of us missionaries far from home. In fact, until  recently, I myself have found it difficult to write to you because of the distress of it all.

So, what has it been like? Dan and I watched throughout the days (your late afternoon and night in the States) as events unfolded there, from the gut-wrenching video of George Floyd’s death to streets convulsed with protests followed by riots. Watching the live newscasts those early days in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area was especially frightening because our three children and their families call it home (also our home of twenty-six years before moving to Japan); it touched all of them in different ways, but has been particularly hard for our son-in-law, a police officer, and his family. We pray for wisdom in the days ahead as our country addresses the many factors fueling protests and unrest. Peaceful protests have also taken place here in Tokyo, but have been quite small. 

And how do we understand and move forward ourselves as Christians? We have appreciated words from our LCMS president that point us to God’s Word and our Lutheran Confessions about sin, justice and action. You can read President Harrison’s June 2nd statement in its entirety, but I will share two verses from a passage he quotes in his conclusion (and which will be our guide):

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony… And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:14,17 ESV).


Asia Life And Work During the Pandemic


Good News/Bad News in our Life

The good news: Tokyo lifted the last of its restrictions with nearly all businesses able to reopen––even popular karaoke parlors!––with special coronavirus protection measures in place. They set very stringent criteria to meet. Daily infections for all of Japan are typically around 100 these days; in Tokyo, in the 20’s when restrictions were lifted. (For comparison’s sake, the US reports daily cases in the tens of thousands, with a population roughly two and a half times that of Japan.)


Our first outdoor dining after the restrictions eased…pretty safe!


The bad news: a re-entry ban for non-Japanese residents is in place, except for humanitarian reasons. This means that while Dan and I are free to leave Japan, we would not currently be free to return to our Tokyo home! My once or twice annual trips to the States as well as Dan’s work travel are not possible for the time being. Nearly all other nations currently allow foreign  long-term residents to travel abroad and return to their current residence. Pray that the government  lifts this ban soon!


The Work

Theological educators in Asia (which you support!) continue to find avenues for sharing our legacy of solid Lutheran resource materials where they currently work and live, despite a current project budget freeze. For example, in reports Dan has received from these men, we can be encouraged to hear that in Cambodia, grants provided urgent mercy work (food for those hard-hit by the pandemic) but also Lutheran literature resources and encouragement for Cambodian Lutheran pastors. In Taiwan, work is being finalized for an official Chinese partner–church synodical version of Luther’s Catechism. And, of course, Dan continues with his Japanese contacts, which include options for a Large Catechism  version as well as Walther’s Law and Gospel


Thank you for walking aside us throughout all the many shared challenges we face! And now may God grant you strength, patience and steadfastness as you cling to His word and promises!



Thank you for your prayers and support!  ~Joan and Dan Jastram


More than ever, the world needs the saving Word of Jesus Christ.  With your partnership we can continue this work. We encourage you to support, continue, or increase your financial support  online through our secure LCMS website,

As a congregation, you can support us by adding us to your congregation’s mission budget as a Together in Mission partner. (Call 888-930-4438 for details.) 


 or  mail a tax-deductible gift to:

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis, MO 63166-6861

Make checks payable to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or LCMS. Include “Jastram–Asia” in the memo line.

Connect with us


Rev. Dr. Daniel Jastram





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