So why Japan?
Question 1) Are we called to international ministry?
We were able to answer yes to this question rather quickly for a number of reasons. As we took an assessment, we didn’t have to look hard to see the ways God has been preparing us and even wired us for overseas ministry. From my (Jeremy’s) bachelor’s degree in linguistics and ability to pick up different languages quickly, to Leanna’s degree in cultural anthropology. As mentioned earlier, we met overseas because of our love for seeing God’s kingdom spread to the ends of the earth. Plus the fact that we love to travel and experience new cultures. We were confidently able to answer yes to this question.
Question 2) Is there a need in Japan, and specifically Tokyo?
The answer to this question, which before our trip we were completely oblivious to, is a resounding yes! In a country of over 120 million people, 0.6% are Evangelical. This makes the Japanese one of the largest Least-Reached People Groups according to the Joshua Project. Tokyo is the largest city in the world with over 30 million people and there are less than 1,000 churches in the city. Again, the largest city in the world has one of the fewest numbers of Evangelicals in the world. Yes, there is a real need in Tokyo, Japan.
Question 3) Is there a body of believers currently in Tokyo who are living on mission for the Gospel with one another?
This was perhaps the most pertinent question for us to process. You see, we have been so blessed by our local church, Karis, here in Columbia Missouri over the last 8 years. We have truly experienced what it means to live as the family of God and committing ourselves to the Gospel even when it is difficult. This is something we do not want to give up lightly and is something that we need to know can happen in Tokyo as well for us to thrive.
Let me share with you a story from our trip which I think answers this question well. We had been there for nearly a week, it had also been nearly a week since our 15 month old had any real sleep. Our vision trip went from seeing as much as we could of the city to Leanna and Evee staying in the apartment all day just so she could rest. The rest of our team went to gather with the local church we were visiting, led by Church planter Yoshito Noguchi from Osaka, which met in his home at the time. While there with the dozen or so adults and a number of children, Yoshi came to me and expressed that he was sad Leanna and Evee could not join us. I told him how I appreciated his concern and he then tells me that he would like to have dinner with them. I am thinking that we will do this in another day or two before we leave but instead he tells the church gathered in his home about Leanna and Evee, and so that night, every one of them travels over an hour to the city where we were staying so they could break bread and fellowship with my wife and daughter. Complete strangers, whose language we can’t even speak, yet bonded together because of the love of Christ! In this instance and many others over our trip we saw that there is an active community of gospel believers on mission together in Tokyo.
So, with all three of these questions processed and answered in the summer of 2014, the final question for us as a family is why not go? What is keeping us from ministry in Japan?
I have an amazing job and work for a great company. We have a beautiful church family that we are a part of. We love the city of Columbia and it’s central location to our families in KC and St. Louis. We bought a house the year Evee was born. There are so many good things for us here and so the real question becomes, is the gospel worth everything? Is the truth that God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us so that we could be restored to right relationship to Him and one another through His son enough for us to say yes to God, to give up these good things and join Yoshi’s ministry in Tokyo?
We are striving to walk forward by saying yes. It is worth it. and so, we need your help. Head over to our Give page to find out how!