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“What about you, Morgan? Are you afraid of death?”

I was attending a conversation event at a local café, and the theme for that month’s discussion was “Death.” A non-Christian friend runs the café, and I knew several of the other attendees. Though most are not believers (like 98% of Japan’s population), they all knew me as a Christian missionary from my self-introduction. As we discussed the theme, many asked about how faith impacts my thoughts on death, and all listened with openness and curiosity.

But I didn’t just talk, I also had many chances to learn – to hear their hopes, fears, and confusions around death and the meaning of life. At the end of the evening two of the attendees came up to me and expressed interest in learning more about the Bible. I came away feeling encouraged, invigorated as a missionary, and with many specific ways to pray for those I’d met.

Doing ministry in Japan is unique in that, while still one of the largest unreached people groups in the world, it’s a fully first-world and religiously tolerant country. As a missionary, I don’t have to worry about day-to-day living, medical services, or the literacy of those I’m trying to reach. I don’t have to hide the fact that my full-time work is teaching the Bible for fear of legal consequences.

Being able to say freely “I’m a missionary!” when someone asks what I do opens a natural way for those interested to ask more questions. Also, the Japanese culture of hospitality means that they are eager to share their traditions and beliefs with me when I show interest. And cafés, gyms, and community centers provide ample opportunities to make friends and get involved in people’s lives.

At the café that night, I put down my tea and thoughtfully answered. “Am I afraid of death? Maybe I’m scared of the process of dying, but I’m not scared of death itself. Because I believe that death is how I’ll enter a new life, a better one, where I get to meet Jesus face to face…”

I prayed for the right words as the conversation continued. I know there are many more conversations to be had, but I’m happy to be here in Japan listening, learning, sharing, and waiting for the next question.

By Morgan, an OMF Missionary

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