Still after being back for 2 weeks I find myself still processing the trip. I’ve had the chance to talk to quite a few people one on one and it’s helped me understand the feelings I have been having. Looking back at my past mission trips Japan was quite different, it’s true this one was titled a “vision” trip, but it was more than that. The other places that I have been, you could categorize as third world. The need there was obvious and heart breaking. Some places you couldn’t freely talk about Jesus in the open for there was a fear of persecution. Others the streets were littered with trash and people lived in houses with dirt floors. Japan on the other hand looks as if it has it all together. They’re also one step ahead of America technology and they have constant smiling faces. I was amazed as I walked through Tokyo, at how clean the streets were. The houses were nice and orderly sitting tightly side by side.
As I talked to the Japanese people I quickly could see the constant trend. That getting to know a Japanese person intimately where they would share their hardships and struggles would be difficult. I feel that building trust would take quite some time and for them to share any sort of shortcoming or failure would mean a bad reputation or perception of them. I noticed that often they are smiling and polite to one another regardless of what they feel inside. So I could be sharing my entire life story with them as they sit, nod and smile, not realizing that they don’t care or are not following what I am saying (language barrier could play a little into that too).
Building personal relationship is hard enough but finding someone who understands the Gospel or wants to follow Jesus is rare. It seems as if the culture repels it. There are so many cultural things to understand and learn for someone to be a missionary there. Right now as I write this I can’t even articulate how to explain what I understood there because I found myself regularly confused by all the mental notes I needed to take in order not to offend anyone. Let’s just say that with my eyes I could see a culture that is so beautiful and peaceful yet in my heart and mind I know that it is dead.
Something else I learned was that commonly Japanese that have come to Christ in Japan take years to get there. It is a long, loving, prayerful, heart breaking process.
In my mind I believe I have romanticized missions. From translating the Bible for those who don’t have it or to teach the Gospel to people in small villages in the mountains of Laos. However, in reality what would be hard are the cultural differences such as bucket showers, food, and sleeping on straw mats but the people’s hearts are hungry for the Gospel. In Japan some of the hardships would certainly be present but so would many comforts we have here in the states. However the people are not hungry for the Gospel. I learned that they recently became the world’s largest unreached people group and I think I’m beginning to understand why…
What a need there is Japan!
Please partner with Karis Japn and pray that many would go to Japan but also that those who are in Japan would have the strength to carry on.