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My unexpected discovery about Japan

Eighteen years ago, I was invited to go on a mission trip to Japan. However, at the time, missions in Japan was a foreign concept to me. Why would a first-world country with modern technological advances need people to tell them about Jesus Christ? Don’t they already know about Christianity? Admittedly, my idea of missions back then was taking the gospel to the jungles of Africa or undertaking humanitarian projects in the slums of Indonesia. Nevertheless, as I was fresh out of college and had a fair amount of time on my hands, I accepted the invitation.

My first mission trip to Japan was an enriching experience. It was December, and we sang acapella Christmas carols at several churches. I had fun doing that while enjoying the Japanese culture. Moreover, that mission trip opened my eyes to the reality of Christianity in Japan. For example, I learned that only 1% of the total population in Japan are Christian, and that over 70% of Japanese pastors are nearing retirement. That trip made me realize there is an urgent need for missions in Japan.

A year later I went on a second mission trip to Japan. One evening, the mission team boarded a train on the JR Yamanote Line in Tokyo. I had expected to see the big bright city lights of Shinjuku or Shibuya. But what I mostly saw were countless drab apartment blocks, each several floors high. In just a short twenty-minute train journey, I saw hundreds, possibly thousands of small apartments, far beyond the eye could see. Many of these apartments were tiny one-room units—their doors so close to each other that one can only imagine the sheer numbers of people living in the sprawling megapolis.

Suddenly, I thought, How many people behind all these doors actually know Jesus? That weighed heavily on my heart. That was when I sensed the Lord’s call to serve the people in Japan. It was pivotal moment, and one that set the path for me to become a full-time missionary in Japan, with my family, ten years later.

Our primary calling is to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ: to love God and to love others as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). However, the Lord sometimes calls us to preach the gospel in a specific location (e.g. Acts 16:9-10). God did not speak to me in a vision, but he called me to serve in Japan by allowing me to see a spiritual need and instilling a burden in my heart.

I am glad I accepted that invitation to my first mission trip. In the same way, if God has a missionary calling for you, he will reveal it to you in his perfect timing. We only need to open to our hearts and minds to whatever God is showing us.

—By Daniel, an OMF missionary

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray that more people would have a burden to reach the Japanese people for Christ.
  • Pray for Christians in your country, that they would be faithful disciples of Jesus.
  • Pray that the many millions of Japanese people who haven’t heard about Jesus would not only hear, but believe.

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