In a few weeks, I will travel 5,000 miles to go to a place 2,000 miles away. I am moving to a country where I can’t speak the language. I will be paying money to work full-time in a country I have been to once, and I don’t even have enough money to provide for myself. Sooner or later, I knew that the insanity of it all would catch up and it has. This has forced me to look at my motives.
I am not going to Japan in order to earn anything; not favor, acceptance, or glory. I am not going because I am some form of confidant idealist who believes he can make a difference. I am not going because I want to travel. It is far less grand than these. I go, because I have to. This isn’t a choice as much as a commission. This is not a vacation, but a war. I go, because my heart is there.
Japan is the most beautiful place I have ever been, and I live in Alaska. The people are kind. The streets are clean and the konbini line the streets intermixed with vending machines and keitai shops. And the sakura bloom like summer hanabi and fall like winter snow. Yet none of these could draw me back as effectively as the feeling in my heart. There is something far greater. Something less obvious, but far more common. It is fundamentally the heart of Japan. It is the broken hearts of the Japanese. If you sat inside Starbucks outside Shibuya crossing for an hour, you would see 45,000 broken people walk by. If you ride a subway car out of Ikebukuro Station on the Marunouchi Line at 7:30 am, you can experience being crammed into a train of ten cars with no room to move and being surrounded by people who need Jesus completely surrounding you. I do not call it a war without a reason. How can one person or even a thousand people reach 40 million? Not to mention the roots of idolatry and religious tradition. Have you been crushed by the sense of desperation and loneliness that exists there? Have you stood in a train station and heard the voices whispering “jump” in your ear? Have you praised God in the streets and had mystics come over to pray for you? I have. And, have you fallen on your face and heard God speak about his plans for this nation? Have you seen joy and freedom flood over a Japanese believer? Have you cried out for salvation and seen it come to fruition? Have you worshiped and felt the glory of God fall on you? I have. I have been in the battle. I have seen the war, and I was made for the fight. My heart is haunted by the war. I have chosen to live this way, not because it is easy, but because is it is hard. Because God has offered me a full life. Because he is there, on the front lines. He fights this war, and I would much rather stand with him in battle, than look in from the sidelines. Where he is I shall go. Like Jeremiah, I have known him and I can’t live without him.
Whether this is foolish or not, I will leave for the scholars and critics to decide. I have never been one to act on what my head says, when me heart is crying out. Like a dreamer awoken from a dream, I must do what I can regardless of futility or probability. What I know is this. God is Big. God is Good. And God loves me perfectly. I am his son. So, God whether you send me to Hokkaido or Okinawa; China or Paraguay, I will go. Not by my own power or strength, but by your unending grace and glorious way. So, as you have sent me to Japan, I will go. Since you have made a way, I will go. As you have provided, I shall go. As you are faithful, I will try to be also; I will go. Thank you.
p.s. please do not hold me in any high regard. This was not meant to boast about me in any way, for I am undeserving of any praise. If I boast let it be in the fact that Christ loves me. For all glory and honor and praise belongs to him alone. I am a missionary, but all that means is that like all Christians, I have forfeit my life for Christ since he has forfeit his for mine. There is glory in this, but it is his. Anything I receive from him is testament to his grace poured over me. For while I was yet a sinner Christ died for me. He is restoring me and rebuilding me. And I pray, that you and all of the Japanese and that everyone may know with all the saints, the unknowable length and the width and the height and the depth of the love of God.