Note: While I don’t use real names, this story is about real people, who I care deeply about and happen to be friends with on Facebook. So if you happen to desire to share this story, please shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before doing so.
I’m not sure I’ll ever fully wrap my mind around the barriers to the gospel in Japan. We’ve only been here 6 months, but so often we discover a new ‘thing’ to add to the ever growing list of reasons why it seems (to human eyes only) that seeing Japan reached with the gospel is a losing battle. But I already wrote a blog about that. And that’s not what this post is about.
I’ve heard from a several seasoned missionaries that, when doing ministry in an area with hard soil – where most of the work is plowing through compacted dirt, removing rocks, digging out deeply rooted weeds, and relentlessly scattering seed – in these environments you must learn to treasure the precious fruit that God miraculously grows in the midst of it. And tonight was one of these moments, which I will cherish as happening upon priceless treasure.
This evening, I had the privilege of sitting around a table in the food court of Ito Yokada with three extraordinary high school students (and two exceptional missionaries) to study the Bible. Tomo decided to follow Jesus last October after being involved with the Let’s Talk club at ICU High. Yuki decided to follow Jesus this spring. It was one of the first times I met Yuki, and I had an opportunity to be a part of a great spiritual conversation that happened to be one of the last spiritual conversations (which occurred regularly over the course of the previous year and a half) before she trusted Jesus. That same day, on the bus on the way home from school, Tomo shared with her more about his relationship with God, and the next day we received an email from Yuki saying she had decided to follow Jesus. The last student at the table, Megumi, is a not-yet believer. She is an exceptional young lady, who happens to be experiencing an exceptional amount of pain and brokenness from a disintegrating family life. Too much for any person, let alone a 16 year-old.
We were reading what many believers see as a familiar passage in John (but is really quite confusing, especially encountering it for the first time), the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. It was a good discussion, beginning to break down Jesus’ cryptic metaphor, acknowledging the fact that, as humans, we are all thirsty for what Jesus has to offer, and what it means to have a spring of life-giving water inside of you. Our last question of the Bible study was “How we can take what we learned from and about Jesus and allow it to change how we live?”
Yuki paused with a concentrated look on her face, and then, with an air of realization, said, “I have have a spring in me too. I can share it with others.” Trying to hold back the lump in my throat that threatened to turn into tears, we talked about how Tomo had a spring of living water within him, and he shared it with Yuki. And now that Yuki had trusted Jesus, she could share the life-giving water in her with the people around her.
But then Megumi chimed in. “The first time I met real Christians was when I came to this high school. I noticed that they do things that don’t benefit themselves. I didn’t understand, because I thought if you give away what you have in your pool, you will have none left for yourself. But now I see how they can do it, because they have a spring.”
Tonight, at a table in the food court of Ito Yokada, I got to sit with two (soon to be three, may the Lord break through quickly) generations of young Japanese believers, Tomo playing a major role in Yuki’s salvation, and both playing major roles in Megumi being drawn closer to Jesus.
This fruit is precious to me.