Since 2020, OMF Japan has been part of an OMF International Pilot Scheme, welcoming Marketplace Self-Supporting Workers (MSSW) to partner with us in reaching the people of Japan. These are Christians who are committed to using their professional lives to share Jesus and who want to partner with OMF for support and greater ministry effectiveness. We caught up with one of our marketplace workers and asked him about the opportunities he’s had in his workplace to connect with people more deeply.
As a Christian and environmental scientist working in Japan, I often wonder how to share Jesus with those around me. Building close friendships and having fun with work colleagues was normal in my home culture, so I was surprised when I first arrived to find how quiet my Japanese workplace was. It was (and still is) common for the only interaction with my colleagues to be a simple hello as I arrive each workday, and then goodbye as I leave. During the day, unless I initiate a conversation, there is often not much other interaction. This culture shift was discouraging, especially in my early days working in Japan. Before I came here, deep and honest conversation was the main way I felt comfortable sharing my faith.
These days, though, I praise God for the friendships that are slowly growing in my sphere. Despite the ongoing language barrier, I think our common interest in nature in my workplace is helping bind my colleagues and I together. Performing field surveys in remote parts of Japan as part of our work has forced us to see a different side of each other, to get an unavoidable glimpse into each other’s true thoughts and opinions (本音, honne).
Some of my colleagues and I have started to hike together occasionally—a slower paced activity than field work! We can sit on the side of a mountain, slurp some cup noodles, and—even if briefly—talk about life. Our conversations are very different from what I was used to in my home country. Despite all the awkwardness, I want to engage and learn to share my faith in this new community. Abiding in Jesus daily, continuing to study Japanese language and culture, and praying for my colleagues regularly are my main tools to try to convey Jesus’ grace and goodness in the new relationships God has given me.
By an OMF Marketplace worker