It’s been over a month since we returned from our spring trip to Japan. I said elsewhere and I’ll say it again, “This trip was the most successful mission trip I’ve ever been part of. ” That being said let’s review what made our trip a success.
Our first objective for this trip was to spend significant time with church planter, Yoshito Noguchi, to explore the possibility of partnering together for ministry in the future. We were able to spend over half of our time in Japan with him. During that time he shared with us his vision for church planting in the center of Tokyo. He took us on a tour of his city pointing out the various needs and ways that a church plant could address those needs. We were able to meet his family and get to know a few of the people who make up his fledgling church plant. We even had the opportunity to worship with them on a Sunday afternoon. We learned that the methods and means by which Yoshito is seeking to share the gospel in Tokyo is very similar to that of Karis. Our time with Yoshito culminated with an offer from him for us to come and learn more about what he is doing and consider joining his church plant.
Our second objective was to introduce Tokyo to several members of Karis who were first timers to Japan and share with them the immense needs in the world’s largest city. In between our time of hanging our with Yoshito and meeting with other missionaries in Tokyo, we were able to see a bit of the city, both good and bad. We explored some of Tokyo’s most popular tourist destinations including a few famous shrines and temples. We prayed for the people of Japan and the blatant idolatry around us. We gave preview to the rampant materialism that shrouds the city as we saw store after store. We took in a few cultural hotspots and did our best to explain the nuisances of Japanese culture. We even caught a glimpse of Tokyo’s night life and the thriving sex industry that resides in the heart of the city. In the end the team was able to return home well versed in the need for the gospel in Japan.
Not only were we able to accomplish both of our objectives, but God was gracious to provide us with many opportunities to make much of his name on the trip. Throughout our busy schedule we were able to reconnect with several of our old Tokyo friends and share the gospel with them as we explained why we were on this trip. One friend even came to the airport with us to meet our team. Others, who live close to Yoshito joined us for a picnic in the park and listened to us talk about why we wanted to return to Japan to help plant churches. Still, even after the Karis team left, I was able to travel around Japan and meet up with several Japanese college students that we had known from the previous school year in Columbia and connect them with missionaries and church planters in their areas.
I am really thankful for the opportunity I was given to lead this trip. I was challenged and encouraged by our team and was able to learn a lot by leading. On August 30th, I will be heading back to Tokyo along with Jeremy Grove, who went with us this spring, to spend more time with Yoshito. Would you pray for this trip as we go to plan for the future of our partnership with Yoshito.