The Greatest Commandment says to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. These words are simple to understand but the question remains, how do we love a God who does not present Himself in a physically tangible way? By loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Our neighbor is not always near to us, often they are on the other side of the world.
Short term missions work is a time for God to open our eyes to the vision He has for our life and His ministry. It often blesses the missionaries more so than the locals. We pray for God to help us find the lost however it ends up being a time for God to work in our own lives.
In Japan, I witnessed a place where the gospel has not flourished and there is much work to be done. Statistics describe a country where less than 1% of the population knows Jesus. All is not lost however and amidst the spiritual darkness of Japan, there exists light which shines through it all. In visiting three small chapels of Hiroshima, there is a feeling of peace and rest.
Our team was blessed to meet with the pastors who spoke about their strategy to spread the gospel in Hiroshima. They praised our missionary, Jessica Lee and how amongst many missionaries, she sits at the top. In meeting these three men, you sense their duty to the gospel and their unrelenting purpose to shine God’s light.
We also attended two services: Asaminami Bilingual Church (ABC) and Koyo Chapel, the latter whose congregation primarily held attendees well into retirement years. You see, in the wake of post-World War II a small revival took place between 1945-1960. This is the last generation where the gospel has been fruitful. They diligently took notes during P. Justin’s sermon and without words you knew they were devoted followers of Jesus. Many sisters in Jessica’s English class even tearfully shared their prayers for their descendants to know Christ.
During our week we were also fortunate to visit and volunteer at a farm recently purchased by the Staddon family. Their call is to work and rehabilitate Hikikomori, a population of social recluses caused by Japan’s intense societal pressure. Never in my life did I expect to live out the words of Jesus, and during our day there, I reflected on his words. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2) Clearing the farm was exhausting labor but to see the healthy soil at the bottom was well worth the effort.
My time in Japan was an eye-opening experience. God showed me a country where there is great need for the gospel message. My encouragement is to pray for the lost in Japan to be found, for our own hearts to be broken for them. Only through Christ’s love can the harvest be tilled and only through Christ can we find salvation.