My Mission Trip to Japan

I was priviledged to take two awesome trips last year. The first one was about this time last year and it was a week spent at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  But while the memories of this time with my family and especially my children are warm and fond, it was the second trip that left me profoundly moved and forever changed.

The second trip was in late May. It was a trip to Japan to work with Southern Baptist IMB missionaries Tak and Lana Oue.

God began planning for me to go on this trip many years ago, although I was not aware of that He had been preparing me until the reality of going on this trip sunk in.  I have always had an interest and a fascination with Japan and with the Japanese people. I admired how they rose from the ashes of a catastrophic defeat in World War II to forge the second largest and perhaps the most innovative economy the world has ever known. What a remarkable and resilient people!! Yet what I did not know about them was just how lost they were and how Satan has blinded them with the worship of idols and ancestors.

Buddha statues in Togane City, Japan

Buddha statues in Togane City, Japan

Idol to watch over children babies who have persihed as a result of disease or abortion.

Idol to watch over babies who have perished as a result of disease or abortion.

Out of a population of 127 million people, the Joshua Project reports that less than 1% of the Japanese people are evangelical Christian. They are the largest unreached people group on the planet. For all their achievement and their economic success, they have failed to attain the thing most worth having: saving faith in the LORD Jesus Christ.

When Tak and Lana’s son Jonathan (who is the lay pastor for missions at my church) first mentioned to me the possibility of this trip I knew instantly I wanted to go. And after praying and raising support, God paved the way for the trip to happen and I found myself, along with Jonathan, John Paul, Shannon, and Jeremy, in the land of the rising sun.

During the week, our team distributed over 3000 pieces of Christian literature in Togane City, a town located fairly near to Tokyo in Chiba prefecture. As we walked along putting New Testaments in the mail receptacles, we prayed that God’s word would not return void. And it didn’t. After we returned to the states, we learned that a lady who received a Life of Christ manga contacted the local church coordinator in Togane, and ultimately prayed  to recieve Christ. She has since been baptized. The wonderful thing is, out of all the pieces of literature we handed out I’m sure some ended up on shelves and will remain dormant until God ordains that it should be read and understood. I still pray for those planted seeds to germinate by God’s power.

One day several of us attended a worship service that was held in a small apartment.

Worship at Emiko's apartment

Worship at Emiko's apartment

Their worship seemed a little different than our style but fundamentally it was the same. They sang hyms, prayed, and studied the scripture. It was during the singing of hymns that God manifested his greatness in a way I would never have expected. Most of the hymns I was unfamiliar with, but then they began singing Amazing Grace. Of course they were singing it in Japanese. We joined our voices to it in English. If you’ll recall at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit conquered the language barrier, God did a similar work here. Nobody spoke in tongues, but it was to me anyway a unifying event where he bound us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. I can’t seem to forget that moment nor do I want to. There have been only a handful of days since returning that I have not prayed for those wonderful believers there.

It’s easy to be a Christian here. No one overtly persecutes you and in the South it is looked down on, not to attend a church. But in Japan it’s not like that at all. There are few Christians and tremendous pressure to conform. Individuality is not valued the way it is in the United States. Having such a long tradition of Shinto and Buddhism, they reject the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the ladies in the picture above was actually held hostage by her own family over a weekend, an attempt to force her to renounce her faith. She stood strong. She told them she would leave if they wanted her to, but she would not renounce her faith. We don’t face that here. No one confiscates and destroys your Bible the way they did this ladys’. I’ve asked myself many times am I that strong? She has since become one of my heroes of the faith.

If you look at the photo of the worship service, I am the one in the green shirt. The Japanese gentleman beside of me is Mr. Saito. He attended worship there that day for the first time and unbeknownst to me, Lana shared the gospel with him. He had never heard it before. I wish I could say that he heard, was convicted, repented, and believed, but that was not the case. The last word I had on him was that he was still an unbeliever, but still going to the worship service. We pray for his salvation each Wednesday night at our church prayer meeting.

I also received a picture of God’s amazing grace on this trip. As I spent time in Japan, I began to understand that I was no more deserving of salvation than the Japanese people. I am a sinner just as they are, but so far it has not been His good pleasure to draw them by the masses to Himself. What amazing grace!!! The more I see my sin, the more I see a picture of just how amazing God’s grace truly is. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more, Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. I have prayed that God would draw that nation to Himself.

Since returning I have realized that the mission trip didn’t end the moment I stepped on the return flight.  God has called me to pray for this people. I even pray that God might bring Emperor Akihito to saving faith in Jesus Christ so that he might lead his people away from idols and to the gospel message.

My greatest hope is that, as someone once said, Japan will transform from the land of the rising sun, into the land of the Risen Son!! Join with me in praying for that end. Pray also that, if it is God’s will, He will send me back there to serve Him once again.

Our team

Our team

Tak and Lana Oue

Tak and Lana Oue

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4 Responses to “My Mission Trip to Japan”

  1. Hi thanks for a great post. I’ll be back 🙂

  2. Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

  3. Great post! I went to Japan to visit a friend of mine who had previously been a missionary there. It was a wonderful experience, but also and eye-opener. The Japanese need Jesus and it is awesome to hear that you were able to have a taste-and-see experience of your own!

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