Andrew and Aubra Bulin: DBU Alumni Called to Japan

Bulin Family

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake devastated northeastern Japan and unleashed a savage tsunami whose effects reverberated throughout the world. The impact of that earthquake was also felt in the hearts of people far away, including DBU alumni Andrew and Aubra Bulin, for whom the crisis served as God's clear calling to send them to Japan.

High school sweethearts and married since 2003, the two have worked on finishing their education over the last nine years with their eyes set on Japan and its people. During those years, they both were blessed to travel to Japan many times as part of their course work. Aubra assisted the M.A. in Global Leadership program and later for the College of Education, traveling on an extended study abroad trip to teach English at Okayama University where she now currently serves as an Instructional Consultant and Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the newly created Center for Teaching Excellence.

Upon returning to DBU in 2016 Aubra finished her master's degree and was accepted into the three-year Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program. "I knew that the Lord called me to pursue a doctorate and that my DBU family would support me like nowhere else," she says. "I didn't know how all the pieces would fit together, but the calling to join the program was so strong that I knew it was part of God's plan for us."

When it came to Andrew's education, he began to study theology and came to find that the study of God's truth was his true calling. Andrew finished his bachelor's degree at DBU in biblical studies in 2016 and went on to thrive in the M.A. in Theological Studies program, which he finished two years later. During his time in the master's program, he also discovered an interest in and talent for apologetics. He joined the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Apologetics forum (RZIM Connect) where he participated in answering difficult questions about Scripture. It wasn't long before he was recognized as a voice of wisdom and asked to regularly meet and pray with the leadership and others serving the online community.

As Aubra was finishing her doctorate last summer and serving in her new role as the Assistant to the Director of Research at DBU, the family began to wrestle with the deep questions of their calling and the timing of an international move. "There was a point where we just couldn't figure out what to do next, or even if we should do anything at all. But as we prayed, of course, God's plan came to light, and we started to take steps forward."

Previously employed with Amazon Web Services for five years focusing on big data technology and analytics, and with his last role as the Senior Capacity Planner for Premium Support, it was just two months before the Bulins moved to Japan when Andrew received an offer to provide technical consulting services for the Dallas-based organization SIL International. This position would allow him the freedom to work remotely as a Systems Architect focusing on infrastructure and systems planning for Bible translation projects. "I was shocked--here was a job that used all my interests and talents and provided what our family needed," he says. "I'm still in awe of God's provision."

After Andrew moved into his new position, Aubra received word that a research proposal she submitted to Okayama University was approved and that she and the family were invited to move to Japan. In December, the Bulins took a step of faith to begin their transition overseas, joining their long-time mentor and ministry partner, Mamo Ishida, who had also relocated to his home in Japan the previous summer after serving for many years at DBU.

Currently the Bulins with their fourteen-year-old son David live in the small town of Higashihirajima outside Okayama City. They are still learning to adjust to Japanese society, especially with limited knowledge of the language. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted their interactions with others to build relationships, but they are optimistic about God's work.

"There are serving opportunities regardless of COVID-19, especially in our workplaces. Often, we find ourselves just encouraging others who are so down right now. People need to know they are genuinely heard and seen, just like our heavenly Father hears and sees us. We try to pass that along."

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.