“How did God call you to Japan?” Of all the questions I was asked upon returning from my summer in Japan, this was the hardest to answer. Of course, I knew the answer, but there were so many steps God led me through to which I reached this point.
5 Minute Read
By Anna Reece
My calling began when I was five years old, when my Mom said, “Anna, you have a sister in China.” I remember the words she said that day as if it was yesterday. As she began to explain the process of adoption and the two-week trip she would take to bring my sister home, I was thrilled. I had always wanted a sister.
When my sister came home, I loved her and began to see in spite of all our differences, she was meant to be in our family before she was even born.
God put a desire in my heart
Years later, the reality of my sister’s adoption began to sink in. My sister had spent her first year of life in an orphanage and her chances of hearing the gospel were slim. Once I realised that so many in other countries don’t get to hear the gospel, my heart was broken. I could not comprehend what life would be like without God. More than anything I wanted to give others a chance to hear about the hope that is had in Christ.
Through the years, this desire deepened. I had felt drawn to China and through this, I developed an interest in Asian cultures as a whole. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was eager to pack my bags and move across the world the minute I received my diploma. Through the wise counsel of my Mom and mentor, I realized that even though I felt ready in my heart, I was not yet ready for what lay ahead on the mission field.
Preparing for missions at Moody Bible College
As a means of preparation, I researched Christian colleges across Indiana, but none seemed like the right fit. One day, my Dad came home from work and eagerly told me about Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. It had never occurred to me to look into Moody, but then I remembered one of my good friends was a student there.
My parents and I decided to go visit Moody. During our visit, we attended chapel. As I stood there worshipping among like-minded people who desired to serve God anywhere in the world, I knew this is where I belonged.
Short-term missions internship
My Moody education consisted of invaluable Bible training, cross-cultural ministry education, TESOL experience, and hands-on ministry. As a part of my coursework, I was required to complete a six-week internship overseas working alongside seasoned missionaries who could serve as mentors.
The search for my internship was overwhelming and I became discouraged. The guest who was staying with my roommates and me during Moody’s annual Missions Conference asked, “What do you think the Lord is leading you to do and is there a place in the world he has put on your heart?”
As I expressed the desire God had given me to serve on a church planting team in Asia, she suggested I contact OMF. So I approached the OMF representative and I learned of OMF’s work in East Asia, and right away a peace-filled my heart—I knew this was the organization I would do my internship through.
From Moody to Japan
I shared my story with OMF and the requirements Moody had in place for the internship and they suggested going to Japan. I was very surprised. Japan was not a place I ever considered going before. As I prayed about this opportunity and heard about the need for the gospel in Japan, I gained confidence that was where God wanted me to be for my internship.
Upon my arrival in Japan, I was over the moon. My dreams of being a missionary as a child were becoming a reality. The years of waiting and preparation had brought me to this place and I was eager to see what God would do during my time there. Throughout the summer, I was busy teaching English classes, assisting in church events/dinners, cooking, cleaning, and serving in any way I could. While my excitement remained, God did something in my heart I was not expecting.
Learning to love the world
About halfway through the summer, the church I was serving at planned several events for the community to attend. In order to get the word out, the missionaries sent those of us who were interns to put flyers in mailboxes all over the neighborhood.
During that time I felt the pain of those separated from God. My fellow Serve Asia worker and I were some of the only people in that neighborhood who had heard the gospel. The reality of the need for the gospel in Japan began to sink in. In the US, many people have heard of Christianity, have experience with the church, or have access to the gospel. The rest of the week, I felt broken. I did not know how to respond. If I felt so much love and pain, how much bigger is God’s love for the Japanese?
Throughout the rest of my time in Japan, God continued to grow my love for the Japanese people and my love for him. I learned how much it hurts to love and that there is nothing in the world I would rather do than share his love.
Going to Japan as an intern was not just a practical experience, but also a time where God began to change my heart and reshape how I see the world. In my daily life now, I seek to be more intentional, to be truly present with people, and most importantly to love the lost by welcoming them not only into my home but my heart as well.
Anna Reece is a recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute where she studied Intercultural Ministries and TESOL. She is currently looking forward to returning to Japan someday. In her free time she enjoys going on bike rides, hanging out with friends, and writing.