Land Of The Rising “Son”

I’m fully aware of the differences in the spelling of the words “Son” and “sun.”

As most of you know I just spent 11 days in Japan. This was my second trip to Asia.

Japan is not a Christian nation. In fact 1 out of every 500 Japanese people claim Christianity. That is a staggering low percentage of people.

If you are like most of the people in my life you are probably asking, “why Japan?”

The normal sports fan watches hundreds, if not thousands, of games on television throughout their lifetime.

If the time comes and you are blessed to attend one or multiple sporting events live, at the professional level specifically, you are immediately overwhelmed with how incredibly talented professional athletes are.

The overwhelming realization of this truth is increased exponentially the closer you are able to sit to the action.

You see, with the athletes there is such a grace to their movements that on television it almost looks like they aren’t even trying.

However, live and in person you are blown away by the strength, athleticism, and power of these players.

That is the best way I can answer the question, “why Japan?”

I was there live.

I had a front row seat to what God is already doing in there.

Our group, J16, had experiences this year together that is impossible to articulate with the English language.

This is my attempt though…

To start off…let’s just get this out of the way. Sushi in some restaurants over there comes to your table on a conveyor belt.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The two times we went to this restaurant I dominated 21 and 26 plates of sushi respectively.

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I shared this at our luncheon they had for us on our last day there and received quite an ovation. They are amazed with how much Americans can eat…namely me and JD.

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Now for the real reason of the trip.

Here are just some of the faces we were able to spend time with this week…

We put on a Bible English for Kids (BEK) program at the partnering church F1C and this event continues to grow in enrollment every year.

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This is one of my favorite parts of the trip. Watching these kids learn stories from the bible brings a joy to your heart that is hard to explain.

We also had the privilege of having “American style” cookouts for the community which they thoroughly enjoyed.

We put on a Men’s BBQ for the men in the community. When asked how we should decorate the space we were utilizing for the BBQ the pastor said, “meat is the best decoration.”

Most of you have asked me, “weren’t you a giant over there?”

This picture is a fun way to answer that question…

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Like I mentioned, I had a great time during BEK, but like most of you know my heart is in leading worship. Here are some pictures from the concerts and worship services we had the immense blessing of putting on while over there.

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One of my favorite things in this world is stepping back from the microphone and hearing a mixture of voices singing in English and Japanese.

Jesus is love and love doesn’t know or care what cultural or language boundaries exist.

This little girl has been a part of BEK and our concerts/worship times both years I’ve been there. Her name is Sae. She is very special to me.

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I wanted to end this post with this picture:

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This is my boy JD. In this picture we were traveling to the airport after our 11 day trip was rapidly winding down. This snapshot has the ability to articulate more than I could with even the greatest knowledge of the English language.

To me and the other people on this trip it signifies 3 things:

  1. Exhaustion – We poured ourselves into F1C, BEK, worship, serving, and loving. The greatest thing about this though is the people of Japan poured themselves back into us with even more ferocity.
  2. Love – JD is holding onto a picture of a little boy named Haruto. We all fell in love with this little dude towards the end of the trip. He specifically gravitated towards a girl named Paxton, who is incredible by the way. He merely tolerated us to get closer to her. With that said, even in our exhaustion it never stopped us from fully loving people. Unable to keep his eyes open, JD gripped that picture because it was special to him. This picture captures that love.
  3. Grace – Jesus says, “come as you are.” Boy did we ever. Loud, big, and sweaty the Japanese people embraced us with nothing but the love of Jesus. Our spiritual theme of the trip was ‘facing our fear.” This entire group was raw and it really set the tone for the Holy Spirit to do what He wanted to do.

Re-entry into the states is difficult. It’s difficult for the team and for our families and loved ones. Mainly because we had experiences over there that don’t translate into words of any language.

It’s no different than our language barrier over there. Unless you were there it’s hard to understand. The one difference is, unlike in Japan, a translator doesn’t exist for the emotions we are trying to talk about.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the person who made this all possible. One of my best friends on this planet, Craig Boyer. You went through literal hell growing up. I’m sorry.

What I will never apologize for though is the result of it. Your “guard” you put up here in the states was subconsciously let down 12 years ago when you went to Japan for the first time.

Because of that, Jesus shattered your heart for these beautiful people. I know 16 people, including Taka & Takara, who are eternally grateful as well. Countless other people from other trips have also benefited.

You always challenge me Craig.

So I challenge you with this.

Let go of the fear you have.

Be unapologetic about the story Jesus has authored for you.

You are truly free and are absolutely a Child of God.

Thank you F1C.

Thank you J16.

Thank you Craig.

 

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