Around 2,000 young people converged on Aoyama Gakuin, a university near one of Tokyo’s major downtown areas, for the “Send Me” conference held in August. Similar to the Urbana Student Mission Convention in the U.S., this event was the first of its kind in Japan. It was sponsored by the Japanese Evangelical Association.
Lively worship launched each session with the youths singing Japanese versions of international praise songs such as “Shout to the Lord” and “The Power of Your Love.” These were mixed with popular Japanese choruses and original songs composed for the event.
Dr. Wainwright of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School opened with a stirring message on the call of Isaiah, a young man powerfully used by God in a turbulent national context. He challenged the audience to carry the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness throughout Japanese society.
Dr. Ajith Fernando of Sri Lanka delivered excellent talks each morning. But the evening sessions were the highlight, as Japanese speakers challenged their young people to serve God anywhere He leads. Many raised their hands at the closing session to indicate a willing response to the Lord.
Four Japanese SIM (Serving In Mission) missionaries held workshops presenting a broad portrait of what life is like on the mission field. Tan and Izumi Shimizu with their two boys have just completed two years in Tanzania. Another family with their three children have spent seven years on a church-planting team in South Asia. Yoko Yoshioka has ministered for 12 years in Niger. All three families work with Muslims.
In an age when the face of missions is increasingly non-Western, this ground-breaking event in Japan represents a trend well under way in global missions. Thirty-six nationalities now serve as SIM missionaries, and an increasing number of these come from countries in Southeast Asia. Many of these non-Western missionaries are also willing to serve in the most difficult fields and ministries, where sharing Jesus may invoke heavy repercussions.
Pray with us that many more Japanese brothers and sisters will soon be serving as missionaries in Africa, South America and South Asia.
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