When we agreed to take over the church planting work at Izumi Park Town Church we expected to form a partnership with Jim and Terui Grace, who were already involved in the church, but whose main ministry was to university students. However, just before we moved into this work, we learned that the Graces would soon take on a new role at the Japanese Language and Culture Center in Sapporo.
After the Graces had moved to Sapporo, a university student they’d met as part of their ministry (I’ll call her Manami) came to worship several times in a row. Then she stopped coming. Over the next weeks and months we prayed for Manami as she came to mind, and one Sunday she showed up again. She told us she’d been unable to handle the stress of university life and had been hospitalized for a time. She then surprised us by asking to be baptized. We suggested she take part in a class which explained the gospel and the Christian faith.
Manami could hardly wait for the class to start. Throughout the class, she needed little convincing. She recognized she was a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness and readily placed her faith in Jesus. Several months later, she was baptized. I was surprised to see her mother come to the service. Since her mother was not a believer, I asked her how she felt about her daughter’s baptism. Surprisingly, she said that she was in favor of Manami becoming a Christian. Her daughter used to be full of despair, but after she believed in Jesus, her mother could see that she had hope and peace.
Several months later, we ran into the Graces at an airport. It was exciting to show them photos of Manami’s baptism and rejoice together over what God had done in her life. The seeds the Graces had planted in the lives of students continued to sprout and bear fruit long after they themselves were gone. Even though my wife and I were not directly involved in university student ministry we reaped the benefits of the hard work of those who were. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
This principle of sowing and reaping keeps us humble and hopeful—for it is God who guides each person along the path of life and growth. The window of ministry in the life of any single student may only be a period of a few months or years, but the effects can last a lifetime.
—Joel, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that the many seeds that have been planted in student’s hearts over the years in Japan would sprout and bear fruit.
- For missionaries not to forget the principle of sowing and reaping.
- For the families of new believers, that they will be supportive, and even consider the God of the Bible for themselves.