I didn’t expect to find myself in Japan as a missionary. I was used to working in an aircraft research facility: cutting up carbon and drilling holes. I sometimes think the disciples looked back on their lives with the same feeling of astonishment, well, actually probably a lot more. One day they were pulling up fish in their nets, the next they were following Jesus Christ, God become flesh.
Like some of the disciples I’m not very educated. In fact, I was branded the laziest pupil my science teacher had ever taught. In my GCSE mock exams (exams taken at the end of year 11 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) I got a U in maths, which means ungraded. I literally knew nothing because I just did not care. Thankfully I pulled my socks up at the last minute and managed to scrape passes in the subjects I needed. Nonetheless, I left school with no sense of direction until my mother gave me a newspaper and told me to apply for an apprenticeship in a local aircraft company. Once I was accepted, I thought I was done with vocational decisions: I’d see out my days as an aircraft fitter and retire with a bad back and white finger.
I had been a Christian since I was a young lad, but there was a turning point in my faith when my sister suddenly died at the age of 16 during my first year of work. Life no longer seemed as predictable and safe. Death now was more real and I realised that it comes to us all, young and old.
I knew my sister was with God, but the urgency to share my faith with others became much more apparent. I made the workplace my mission field and prayed often for opportunities to tell people about God; a prayer that was answered so often that I sometimes hesitated to pray it when I did not feel up to it.
During my training, I found myself with a group of men who were a bit rough around the edges. I struggled to love them, but God gave me patience and perseverance, and after a while I was able to forgive. Soon enough my rapport grew with them and we would often have open, but very unconventional conversations about God.
However, I was not ready for the day one of them stopped me in the workshop and expressed his worry about the group’s sinful condition. Break and lunch time was full of filthy chat. These men had experienced a lot in life and enjoyed talking about it. This man’s suggestion left me in a state of anxiety for the two years that followed. He asked if I would read a Bible verse to them during one of the breaks.
Friday was chosen and my mind was set off on one of the most intense races it had ever run. I was the type who would never speak up in a group and was scared to pray out loud. I was completely out of my depth, and only could rely on my deep conviction that God had ordained it. Friday break time came, the tea room was bustling as usual, with the radio on full blast. I reached over to the power button and switched it off. Deathly silence ensued. With stuttering words, I read out the verse I had chosen.
That was the beginning of what became two years of teaching the Bible every Friday in that smelly little tea room. My passion for work went right out the window, I knew what God wanted me to do and there was no turning back. That was how God called me into full time ministry.
During and following those two years came a call to Japan that takes more space than I can recount here. God led me to OMF, Bible college, and marriage to a Faroese girl. Finally, I landed in Japan in November 2017, excited about what God will do here in this needy place.
By an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that God would bring more missionaries to work here.
- Pray that Japanese Christians would be bold evangelists in their workplaces.
- Pray for those who are on the journey to be long-term missionaries in Japan, that God would guide them on the journey until they can finally join us in the work here.