My name is Samuel Mooney. I’m 26, and I live in the city of Abbotsford, just west of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. I grew up in a Christian home, and have almost always been involved in the local church. Since a young age, I loved hearing and reading stories about missionaries. I loved seeing their faith and how God provided for them in the most amazing ways. Even though a lot of missionary stories seem to end in tragedy, it’s not necessarily true. Sometimes, stories can look like they ended tragically from a human perspective, but God uses everything to open new doors of opportunity for His purposes. For some reason, I was really attracted to the idea of being a missionary. I wanted a life that was clinging to Jesus and doing everything for His kingdom, and at the age of 5, I prayed for it.
My father was a pilot and would often do overseas flights. The one place I most liked to hear he was going was Japan. The other countries he went to were fine, but they didn’t hold a candle to what Japan had. I was fascinated with almost anything from Japan, whether it be a tiny toy or a new video game that hadn’t yet been released in North America. A few years went by (I was maybe 10 or 12), and one day after church, I was riding home with my father. I felt deep down that I was going to be a missionary in Japan, so I told my father. He looked me in the eyes and asked, “Do you really know what that means and do you really understand what you’re saying?” I replied with a simple “Yes”. After that short conversation, I was totally okay with the idea and believed that I was going to do it.
After I finished high school, I did a one-year Bible internship at a local church. Once I completed that year, I became afraid of doing any more Bible schooling because I knew that I was bad at writing papers. Everyone I talked to about Bible college or university always said that it was all about writing essays and doing research papers. Unfortunately, I let that fear get to me and decided to go to a secular university. I tried to reason with myself that I was still doing the right thing because I could take Japanese language courses that could still prepare me to be a missionary to Japan in the future. Truthfully, though, I started drifting more and more away from God and the calling I had felt when I was a young.
Once I finished two years of Japanese, I didn’t know what else to do. I was lost, so I made a huge life decision, moved to Calgary, and studied to become a hairdresser. I lived and worked there for three years before having a complete mental breakdown. I had used every ounce of effort to do my own thing, and it was a complete catastrophe.
I had to come back to my family home to get back on my feet, and it was at that time that I recommitted my life to God. I got connected to a local church and was mentored by the pastor. During one of our meetings, I was reminded of the vision I had when I was younger. I came to the realization that I would never feel fulfilled unless I did what God had called me to do. Even though I didn’t think I would do well in Bible college, I started looking for where to enroll.
As I told my pastor about this, he was happy to hear about what God had been telling me, but he gave me some great advice as well. He told me to go on a mission trip to Japan and really make sure that this was what God was telling me before I invested thousands of dollars in schooling. He also told me about OMF and sent me some information about them. I looked over their website, prayed about it, and a few days later, contacted them and started looking at a missions trip.
In September 2017, I went on a prayer journey to Japan with OMF. It was a fantastic experience. I was able to meet and pray for Japanese pastors, as well as a number of experienced missionaries. It was the second day of the trip when I was walking to a vending machine that I had this incredible feeling of peace come on me, and these words went through my mind: “This is where I belong.” I knew then, without a doubt, that I was called to be a missionary in Japan. The next eight days were amazing. The only bummer was that I had to go back to Canada, but I had a clear vision. I knew that I had to prepare for life as a missionary. I also knew that this meant I had to go to Bible college, but I was not afraid this time. I knew God would guide me through every situation, even though I knew it would still be difficult and full of new challenges.
I’m so thankful to OMF and Serve Asia for the opportunity to visit other nations and see the importance of what God is doing. Organizations like these help to open the eyes of Christians around the world and give so many opportunities to help share the message of Christ. I knew before I went to Japan that the Japanese were extremely unreached by the gospel, but once I was there, it really sank in just how in need of Christ people really are. Japan is an advanced nation in many ways, but most Japanese have had very little exposure to the good news of Jesus Christ. The trip I went on gave me more vision than I could have ever imagined, and I feel blessed to be able to prepare to join others in reaching the nation of Japan.