26 Nov For Christ’s Love Compels Us
A month or so ago I found myself at International Christian University High School (ICUHS) during lunch, awkwardly trying to strike up a conversation with a group of Japanese students during their lunch break. I had been invited by my pastor at my church, who also teaches a class on Christianity at the high school. Even though this school has ‘Christian’ in the title, very few of the students are actually followers of Jesus. The mission of the school is Christian, and some of the teachers are Christians, but many people want to attend this school because they will learn to speak English very well. So, I was very excited to be able to go to the school and have an opportunity to befriend some Japanese high school students. It went well, I suppose, for as a result of visiting the school, the students said that they wanted to come to a Mexican Food Party at my church on November 4th!
The Sunday before the party, we were discussing what we should do for the party at my church and how to share about Jesus with them boldly but not in a strange way, so naturally it led into conversation about evangelism in Japan. My Pastor posed three different questions that really got us thinking: why do we evangelize, what makes sharing the Gospel in Japan difficult, and what personal obstacles do we face when it comes to evangelism. It was so interesting to hear the answers from a Japanese perspective, especially when it came to the difficulties that they have when they want to share their faith. After this, we prayed for the party together, and it was GREAT! It was amazing to see and feel their desire for their fellow Japanese people to know the love of Jesus – something I know is there but don’t get to see so often. It has been on my heart for a long time to see the Japanese church mobilized in sharing the Gospel, both in Japan and throughout the world. The fact that they wanted to hold the party and that they were praying so fervently were definitely answers to prayer.
As you can guess, last Sunday was the party, and three HS students and two college age students came! We had assigned a MC who would direct all the activities and keep it moving. We played games; sang some worship songs; ate tortillas (with butter & a cinnamon/sugar mix on them), chips, guacamole, and salsa that I made; and I shared why I came to Japan. The story of why I moved to Japan is best told through sharing how God saved me and changed my heart into one that wants to share His love with everyone, and that is what I told them about! Several of them seemed very interested in what I was saying, one was politely sitting there, and another, sadly, fell asleep. A few years ago I may have been greatly disheartened by this, but I’ve come to realize that God is much bigger than one party, one conversation, or one rejection even. He cares about that student more than I ever could, and He is pursuing Him with a jealous love! Plus, we gave him a Japanese comic book about Jesus called “Manga Messiah”, and he was loving it! After I shared, a Japanese member of the church related some of the events and struggles in my life to things that he and many other Japanese people struggle with, especially when it comes to stepping out of your “group” and choosing to live your life differently than the people around you. A well known Japanese proverb adequately portrays the mindset of many Japanese people: ‘出る釘は打たれる’ or, in English: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” This means, anyone that is different will be forced to become like those around them. We then had dinner and discussed about what was shared earlier. It was SO GOOD! After sharing I just felt so alive; it feels amazing to share who Jesus is and the hope that He’s given me with Japanese people!
So, remember the student that I said fell asleep? He came to church the next week, as did 3 or 4 other high school students! My pastor had invited them to help with our ‘King & Queen Party’ where we honored the older people in our church, but he came to the service beforehand, too. Each young person in the church was assigned to one older person, to serve them food and ask them questions about what they like, and then present the person to everyone! It was so, so cute and fun. It is amazing to see what God had done with my simple obedience. He is alive and working in Japan!
(Katie is one of our DTS staff, hails from Washington, and usually laughs at these little blurbs I write for each staff blog. Too bad this one isn’t funny.)