For over 25 years, Tom and Debi Going have served as Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) missionaries. The couple and their almost-teenage twins currently live just north of Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Both Tom and Debi are trained international educators. Tom teaches English across grade levels 1–12 at Urawa Lutheran School (ULS), which was originally founded by LCMS missionaries in 1953. Tom also coordinates cross-cultural programs with sister schools in the U.S., connecting ULS students with American students and faculty at Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., and families at Christ Church Lutheran, Phoenix, Ariz.
Tom and Debi first met as young missionaries in Japan. Tom arrived in 1990, completed Japanese language training at the Lutheran Center in Tokyo and then served at a local Japanese Lutheran church in the Niigata prefecture. Two years later, Tom took on the role of director of the Volunteer Youth Ministry program, which Debi joined in 1993. For two years, Debi served Tatebayashi Lutheran Church. She then served as university campus ministry coordinator in Tokyo for three years. The couple married in 1995 and continued their mission work in Japan together.
But their connection to the island nation reaches further back than the ’90s, especially for Tom. His parents, the Rev. Tom and Adrienne Going, first arrived in Japan with infant twin daughters in 1958 to serve the Lutheran church in northern Japan. The family grew during their 14 years on the mission field to seven children, including just one son, Tom, who was born near Niigata (where Tom would later serve as an adult).
In 1999, Tom and Debi left Japan for the U.S. to further their education at Concordia, Irvine, both earning Lutheran teaching certificates and DCE certifications. To complete their practice teaching requirements, they chose to return to Japan in 2001 — to ULS, where they continued teaching for five years.
During furlough in the U.S. in 2006, Tom and Debi were blessed with the birth of twins. Then, like Tom’s parents before him, they boarded a plane with babies in tow for another mission field in Asia: Indonesia. Together they served at a school near the capital of Jakarta, teaching English and the Bible to junior and senior high students. In 2013, they returned “home” to Japan to serve again at ULS.
These days, Debi is busy educating her two favorite seventh-grade students, Megumi and Isaac. Christian homeschool groups in the area keep the children connected to Christian friends in a relaxed setting. Over the past six months, they collaborated in making costumes, building props and testing special effects for a dramatic rendition of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
“We have had so much fun bringing one of our favorite family movies to life!” expressed Debi. Due to COVID-19, their original performance date has passed, but the students are planning to reschedule the show for the fall.
Educational pressures on students are intense in Japan, and Tom is thankful that he has the opportunity to build relationships with his students and use the Bible as a textbook in the classroom at ULS. “To share the Gospel with those who may otherwise never hear it is a blessing that is difficult to describe,” shares Tom.
The Goings request your prayers for the family to tirelessly serve the Lord with fervent enthusiasm. We praise God for dedicated servants who serve the church and His people. To connect with the Goings and support their work in a country where only 1 percent profess faith in Christ, visit lcms.org/going.