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The fear of losing friends due to the gospel

Sacrifice is not the first word that comes to mind when I consider my life as a missionary. I enjoy the Japanese culture, food, scenery, and people. On the whole I love being a missionary, except maybe one factor. And ironically it’s the reason why I’m here: witnessing for Jesus.

I became friends with the Kawamuras* when I started going to their vegan café. They were not only warm and friendly, but also open to talking about spiritual matters. The second time we met I asked them why they started their café, and they shared with me their life story. Mr Kawamura then asked me why I become a missionary and I shared my testimony.

Mr Kawamura was willing to talk about religion, but as we chatted it was also clear that he held firmly to his own beliefs.

He said:

“I don’t like it when people impose their religious views on others.

“Religion is the cause of wars.”

“All religions are the same.”

Over time, and without realizing, I began trying to soften the offensiveness of the gospel, focusing instead on the commonalities in our beliefs.

My colleague said, “But the gospel is offensive.”

After an uncomfortable conversation with a colleague I realized that I had been ashamed of Jesus and his gospel for fear of losing the friendship with the Kawamuras.

Fear of losing friends

Friendship in Japan, especially here in the north, is hard-won. People are generally reserved and keep to themselves. It takes time to win trust and come to a point where you can have heart-to-heart conversations. When I have shared the gospel with Japanese people, some have remained friends, even if they did not accept the gospel for themselves. Sadly, others have chosen to abandon the friendship when they chose to reject the gospel. This is the fear that I battle with every time I explain the gospel to a dear friend.

Even the apostle Paul asked the Ephesian church to pray for him against fear when proclaiming the gospel—“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19 NIV). 

Nonetheless, sacrifice—even of friendships we hold dear—is worth making, because we believe that the gospel is God’s power to save. Our prayer is that by God’s grace, our non-Christian friends will become not only friends for life but family beyond this life through hearing the gospel of Jesus.

By an OMF missionary

* Not their real name

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