Before June 13, 2014, I had never exited my home country, the United States of America. But on that Friday, I landed in Tokyo, expecting to never see any of the city except the airport. However, Jesus had different plans.
When we (the crew: Taylor, Conner, Alyssa, and myself) arrived at the airport, a flight attendant held a sign Conner’s name printed on it. She stated that we had a small problem; however, we had a feeling it was a big one.
Long story short, because of a passport complication, we had to stay in Tokyo for four days. We were irritated, tired, and anxious to arrive in Manila. Staying in the sixth most expensive city in the world (deemed by CNN) was not on our agenda. However, God showed us that it was on His.
During our time there, Alyssa contacted some local missionaries who were more than happy to guide us to their church on Sunday. After many subways and much walking, we arrived at Grace Harbor Church. It included a small gathering of people (about 40) above a restaurant in a mall. The bilingual service was not extravagant, yet very beautiful. A simple body of believers gathered together above a restaurant to worship on Sunday is enough to make a heart stir.
Side note: this church does not need a stained-glass window. This is the most amazing view of any church I have ever set eyes on.
A few more key facts about this church: It is the only church in the Toyosu area, home to about 126,000 residents. My town has a population of about 15,000 with at least forty churches, so this was astounding news for me.
After church, a missionary couple, Mr. Bob and Mrs. Sharon, ate with us at the food court. Mrs. Sharon shared with me how God called her to assist in church planting with her husband. Here is her story:
She had been a missionary in Japan for three years, and she and her husband planned to move back to the States in 2014. She explained how she longed and prayed to be a grandmother to her six grandchildren in the States. However, her husband felt called to stay in Tokyo. No, she thought, I want to go be a grandmother! Jesus was tugging at her heart, and an inner voice told her “Your grandchildren have Christian parents, Christian Church, and Christian community. These people do not.” And her heart melted for the people, so she and Mr. Bob stayed in Tokyo to assist in the ministry of Grace Harbor Church.
My heart was so encouraged after hearing her story.
After lunch, her husband shared some insane facts about Christianity in Japan:
– Less than one percent (estimated 0.22%) of the population claims Christ.
– The country has the highest depression rate in the world (based on prescribed and bought depression medication). It is estimated that one in every five Japanese citizens suffers from depression.
– The country also has one of the highest suicide rates.
– The Japanese are considered the second-largest unreached people group.
– Most people have never ever heard the gospel.
– There are three alphabets in the language. One alphabet is of foreign, not often-used words, and Jesus Christ is in this alphabet.
So our problem that day in the airport—- it had an answer.
And I believe that the answer is this:
I would have never known about the brokenness of Japan if it were not for those four days. And if I had not known, I would not have written this blog post. And you, reading this right now, might have not known.
So maybe I will be a missionary there one day. Maybe you will be or the person you share this with over email or at the coffee shop will be the one God calls.
Maybe if each of our hearts is broken a little more each day for this country, and we commit our prayers, then each day the city of Tokyo and the country of Japan will experience more restoration and more of Jesus.
And I must say that four days in Tokyo is most definitely worth an eternity of Jesus.
“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Romans 10:13-15
You can read more about Grace Harbor Church and redemption taking place in Japan at Seima Aoyagi’s (GHC’s minister) blog-site: http://radkelifeintokyo.blogspot.com/2013/05/blog-post.html.