Sometimes God brings us the most unusual partners in ministry. Sue Plumb Takamoto (PhD '02) and her husband, Eric Takamoto (MDiv '99), on the mission field in Japan, have found an invaluable ministry partner in their little Maltese dog, Molly.
Operating through the mission organization Asian Access, the Takamotos worked with Sendai L'Abri Bible Church, in Sendai, Japan, for two years before recently relocating to the Osaka area to do church planting. Their focus throughout has been on building relationships in their community, developing the friendships that will bring neighbors into the church and into relationship with Christ. All along the way Molly, a fluffy charmer who weighs less than five pounds, "has opened doors for us that wouldn't have opened otherwise," says Sue. She helps so much with the Takamotos' "dendo"--Japanese for "evangelism"--that they call her their "dendo dog."
Sue quickly discovered there were certain times of the day--early morning and late afternoon--when dog owners typically took their pets out for a walk...and Sue timed her own outings with Molly accordingly. It didn't take long for Molly to strike up friendships with the other dogs, opening the door to conversation between the owners.
"Molly was so friendly that pretty soon everyone in the neighborhood knew us," Sue says. Through Molly they became acquainted with the Yoshidas, who began coming to the Takamotos' English classes, barbeque gatherings, and eventually, worship services at church. Molly was also a draw for the Bible studies Sue held in their home, where guests loved taking turns holding the little Maltese in their laps.
But Sue's favorite story is about Kazue, the "block leader" of their neighborhood--a respected position in Japanese culture. Soon after the Takamotos moved to the area, Kazue drove Sue to a special supermarket she wanted Sue to see, and they left Molly alone in Kazue's car while they shopped. They returned to discover the dog had deposited a little "gift"...right on Kazue's seat.
"I was mortified," says Sue. "But then Kazue started laughing, and couldn't stop! It broke the ice in our friendship." After that, she and Kazue had coffee together and began to visit often. Kazue started coming to English class...then to church...then to Bible study...and last year, she became a Christian. Together, Sue and Kazue continued to remember that early car incident with a laugh.
The Takamotos--Sue, Eric, and their two children, Owen and Annie--are now settling in to their new home in Sanda, near Osaka, where they moved this summer. "We're counting on Molly to open doors for us here just like she did in Sendai," Sue says. This dendo dog surely will.