God’s been using my family to reach the Japanese since 1983. My parents served in rural Japan for 20 years, and now I’ll be carrying on the torch for round II.
Though I was born and raised in Japan and had a stellar example of Christian love and missionary service modeled to me through my parents, my own relationship with Jesus wasn’t much more than lip service. By the time I was 16 they were advised to leave the field and return to Montreal in order to better care for their son that was really beginning to go off the rails. By 17 I’d dropped out of school, left home, and disappeared South hitchhiking towards Mexico. I’d become deeply fascinated with Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and various New Age texts, and had even come to believe that I was God. By 22 I was covered in tattoos of aberrant ideas and looking for a shaman in the jungle that could guide me down the path to enlightenment. Swinging between strict asceticism and straight-up hedonism, I eventually lost all hope of ever finding the Way within myself. Rather than finding love and light, I saw my heart was actually drenched in darkness. In a town infested with Mormons, I was offered Jesus as a source of spiritual empowerment. Desperate, I got baptized as a Mormon. I remember calling mom afterward and being stunned as she burst into tears at the news. I thought it was basically the same Jesus.
A week later in Calgary, my street-preacher uncle began thoroughly dismantling my ideas by simply opening the Bible. Though the Mormons recognize the Bible as a holy book, it became clear that it was logically inconsistent with the rest of their teachings. But maybe Jesus was still the Way. The resurrection really did set Him apart from the rest of us. I’d come face to face with my own sinfulness in the jungle, so I could agree that my guilty conscience had confirmed the 10 Commandments. But I didn’t want to come to God because I might be afraid of going to Hell. If I was going to worship Him, I was determined that it come from a pure heart of love. “That’s great,” said my uncle. “But you can’t. ‘There are none good, not even one. There are none who seek after God.’” And I was triggered. No one sought after God as good as me. I’d learned every name in all the books and called them out to whatever might be above and beyond the sunrise. How was it fair that only those who called on the name of Jesus could be saved? And then I heard the response in Romans 9: “who are you, o man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay?” And that put me in my place. I had no more arguments. God was not obligated to save. But as I stood fully condemned, He reached out His hand in love. Jesus had come to save, and I was His.
I stayed in Alberta and regularly went out witnessing on the streets with Calgary Peacemakers. After the earthquake of 2011, they sent me to Japan to volunteer and evangelize along the coast for 3 months. While there, I realized how big the need was, and answered the call to spend my life sharing the Gospel with the Japanese. I returned to North America and began preparing. I spent 2 years at the Evangelical Institute of Greenville, South Carolina to learn the spiritual disciplines: how to pray with faith and walk with God.
Currently, I’m finishing up an MA in Christian Studies at Regent College, and a 2-year ministry apprenticeship program called Artizo through my church, St. John’s Vancouver. I also work part-time as an evangelist for St. John’s. In the afternoons I wander around UBC campus with a typewriter strapped to my chest. The folks I meet are more than happy to open up and have their portraits painted in poetry. Verses are worked into the piece and I send them on their way with a prayer on a piece of paper they can pray for themselves. I like to call them bespoke blessings.
The aim is to arrive in Tokyo by June of 2020. That’ll give us just enough time to get a team together to witness on the streets during the Summer Olympics. What an opportunity that’ll be: the whole world on our doorstep.
The main way in which I’ll be serving in Japan is with evangelism. But I’m also intending to seek ordination with the Japanese church, and am looking forward to becoming further involved in how God is reaching out to the Japanese.
- Please pray for wisdom and focus to finish this season of training well
- Please pray that God would raise up a team to support me financially and with prayer
- Please pray that I would be able to find partners in the Japanese church to regularly go witnessing with on the streets of Tokyo