In 2014 I went on a week long missions trip to better understand Jesus’ heart for Japan. Even though I knew very little about Japan before going, I had an impression that God was calling me there for the long-term. Everything there is pristine - beautiful and highly organized - trains, shopping malls, even trash. At first glance it can seem like it’s perfect…on the outside. I started to wonder: how could it be that in a land with so much material blessing there still seems to be so much emotional pain?
This pain was something that I could understand and relate to, as I realized that their pain was similar to the pain in my life before I knew Jesus. A broken family, bullying, and loneliness have been experiences that I have grown through over the years. These struggles are exceedingly prevalent in Japan. I sensed God was calling me to not forget this country that has almost no knowledge of God, this country that most Christians never think about and would only go to for vacation.
I was inspired to learn more about Japan - particularly the language, culture, and spiritual climate. Whenever I spent time talking with other missionaries or prospective missionaries about Japan and what God was doing there, I learned that Japan really needs long term laborers - it has very few. Learning Japanese came easily to me and I started to imagine how impactful it would be to use it to talk about Jesus with someone who really needs to hear about him. Discovering how Japanese people persevere to great lengths and seek to honor everyone and everything around them, I couldn’t help but think about how much of an impact Japanese Christians could have in the world.
God eventually led to me to serve in Japan for two years as a missionary intern with Cru’s STINT program - He was confirming that He could use me in Japan.
One of the Japanese student believers, Chito, became a really close friend over the two years I lived in Japan - we found we had many things in common, ranging all the way from the video game series Zelda to how we experienced God work in our lives. At his “graduation” from Cru, he shared with everyone how that, as he heads out into the real world, he’ll never forget how much God changed his life through the community there. What he shared was so similar to my own experience that it really seemed that God had led me to the right place…to the right people. The relationships I have developed in Japan have served to confirm what I sincerely believe to be God’s calling in my life - to be a part of a community that cares deeply not only for those who are a part of it, but also for those who are still stuck outside in seemingly inescapable pain.
At the STINT Midyear Conference this past January, one of the Global Missions leaders, Dan Higgins, shared this quote with a room full of fellow laborers:
“Do not give your life to something that others are willing and able to do, but give your life to something that others are unwilling or unable to do.”
This quote spoke directly to how I envision my commitment to Japan:
- To serve in a country whose culture and people I love and relate to
- To serve in a country that desperately needs the Gospel
- To serve in a country that I know God so intimately cares about
God is doing big things in Japan, and he is inviting us to be a part of it. Your partnership can make a substantial difference in touching the lives of young people in Japan with the Gospel. This is an investment of eternal significance.
Will you join with me in reaching students in Japan for Christ, and as a result reaching the whole world?
Please reach out to me if you would like to hear more about my vision and calling for Japan at firstname.lastname@example.org