A Changed Life

By Steve Weemes, OMF International missionary to Japan

For some people in Japan, their room is their world. Shion is a young Christian who yearned to get into one of the top colleges in Japan. University entrance exams are offered only once a year. Shion did not pass.

He then enrolled in a 12-month course to prepare for the next exam, and failed a second time. He was devastated. If a Japanese child, especially a boy, doesn’t follow a set path to an elite university and a top corporation, he often feels like a failure.

Like many other young men in Japan, Shion withdrew to his bedroom. His parents supported him. His mom cooked for him. He didn’t go to school. He didn’t have a job. He didn’t have friends.

Shion was suffering from a problem known in Japan as hikikomori, which translates as “withdrawal” and refers to a person sequestered in his room for six months or longer with no social life beyond his home. A recent article by Maggie Jones in The New York Times quoted doctors who estimate between 100,000 and a million Japanese who suffer from withdrawal.

Shion had the rare privilege, in Japan, to have grown up in a solid Christian family. His parents prayed that as the Lord saw their son’s heart, God would draw Shion out of his isolation. One day Shion agreed to go with them to a Bible study led by another OMF missionary. Gradually, God used that relationship to bring Shion back into relationship with his family and his God.

If you were to meet Shion today, you’d never know that he was withdrawn. People respond to him as he ministers at his university and in our Youth Church. He recently led his friend Takezo to Jesus. God saw his frightened heart and has transformed Shion from withdrawn to effective evangelist!

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