What is a Missionary?
A missionary is someone sent on a mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to another group of people, usually people of another culture. Jesus gave his church a mission to tell people everywhere about him. That is only possible if some people are willing to cross geographical, cultural, national, or linguistic boundaries to do this. Crossing those boundaries to spread the gospel is what missionaries must do. In what is now commonly known as the Great Commission, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Why Church Planting?
Why spend so much time working with believers when it is the unbelievers who need to hear the gospel? Church planting deals with the whole of the Great Commission. Making disciples involves not only proclaiming the gospel and making converts, but also teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded. Spiritual multiplication happens as true disciples grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ as members of his church. Individual Christians can only grow strong as they are attached to the local body of believers. Through this discipleship process, individual Christians become channels for gospel witness and the church as a body is also better able to convincingly testify to the grace of Jesus Christ to the unbelieving world. A strong church is essential to a clear Gospel witness which results in spiritual multiplication. This is why we are passionate about working to establish healthy, new churches in Japan.
Why Are Long-term Missionaries Necessary?
Isn't it enough to send short-term missionaries? Short-term missionaries have great value both in terms of their contribution on the field and because of what they bring back home with them in terms of experience, zeal for evangelism, and personal spiritual growth. But without a long-term commitment to establishing a strong church and discipling believers, the accomplishments of a short-term mission trip are likely to wither away. Missionaries who are willing to devote their whole lives to loving another people, learning their language, adapting to their culture, and living out the Christian life before them year after year are key to reaching the unreached with the gospel.
Why not just support national workers who already understand the language and culture? Can't they be more effective as church planters? In some cases they can. We can certainly testify to the unique benefit of having a Japanese on a missionary team! The problem is that there are just not enough of them to do the job effectively. In Japan, most of the churches are small and struggling. Only about two people out of a thousand regularly attend church. Most evangelical Japanese pastors are grateful for the work of foreign missionaries and would like more to come.
Why not go to a more responsive country? Japanese Christians and foreign missionaries have labored long and hard with little response. For years Christians have prayed for spiritual breakthrough in this country. If we did not believe that God was sovereign, we might give up and seek out a more fruitful field. But we believe this is where God has called us and he did not tell us it would be easy. We are also encouraged that God may be doing something new there. We work in the city of Sendai, a city of a million on the east coast of the main island of Honshu. This northeast area of Japan has been known for a long time as an area that is particularly resistant to the gospel. But in March of 2011 God did something to turn these people's world upside down. The triple punch of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster has overwhelmed many of those who survived. They are searching for real hope and meaning for their lives. We want to tell them that that hope can be found in Jesus.