The famous line, “If you build it, they will come,” plays in my mind as Ellen and I embark on a new adventure, not to build a baseball stadium like in Field of Dreams, but a church. We are finally stepping out to serve God in full-time mission work in Japan. For some, the news is no surprise but, for others it might seem unexpected. After all, we settled in Texas, have two active young boys and, on occasion, sport our cowboy boots. However, the Lord beckons us to follow Him, and in our case, that call leads to Japan.
Even before Ellen and I first met, eight years ago in a prayer meeting on the Texas A&M campus, we both felt a strong call to the Japanese people. I grew up as a missionary kid over the course of 18 years (speak fluent Japanese), and Ellen served in Japan for three months as well. But those are just facts. Our hearts burn for the Japanese to know the Love of Christ. According to the Joshua Project, less than 0.3% of the Japanese are Christians, making them the second largest unreached people group in the world.
The Japanese have almost no access to hear the gospel. A non-Christian Japanese friend of ours in College Station shared with us recently, “Maybe if I had seen a church in Japan, I might be a Christian today.” This must change. And so we yearn for God’s glory and for the Japanese to know Him, the only living God.
Where in Japan?
Yokohama is a port city with roughly four million people, about one hour south of Tokyo. It has a long history as the city of firsts. The first gas lamps, steel bridges, treaty between the East and West, and even the first ice cream. In context of its unique history and culture, we pray it will also be one of the first cities in Japan to fully embrace the gospel.
What in Japan?
We will be serving alongside a young church plant called “Connect Church” that meets in a community center. Our primary focus will be evangelism and discipleship, but given it is a small church plant we expect to wear a number of hats as well. The team is led by Heike and Armin Messer, a German couple, who have been missionaries in Japan for over 10 years. Feel free to take a look at their English website: http://international.connect-japan.com/
For How Long?
At this point God’s call is clear to us and we plan to serve in Japan for two years. After that, we will pray and assess returning for long-term service. “Why not long-term now?” you may ask. There are a number of factors, but mainly we want to go while our children are still young and to help the church plant. Our boys Rowan (3) and Jasper (2) are young enough that the transition to Japanese culture should not be too difficult.
Who is sending us?
OMF international. Founded by Hudson Taylor in 1865, the organization is described well by his famous quote, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.” Currently OMF has the largest missionary presence in Japan, providing a strong support network. We are deeply encouraged to be a part of a steadfast and prayer-filled organization, passionate to reach East Asia’s billions with the gospel.
We hope to leave for Japan by May of 2017; this means God needs to raise up partners in ministry to support us through prayer, encouragement, and finances. If you hear God’s call and want to partner with us in reaching the Japanese people, we would love to hear from you.