People are people, even if they’re an ocean away. Take Japan, for example.
Japan is a small nation made up of 4 large islands and 3,000 small islands in the NW Pacific Ocean. It’s population is about 127,000,000 people. Each of those 127 million individuals has hopes and desires. There are families, single people, students, elderly, homeless, rich, poor, athletic, and out of shape. Every day babies are born and people die. Every day, people get up in the morning and go to work, get their kids to school, or head to the gym. Traffic is bad in some areas. The weather is varied. People in Japan like to go out to eat, watch TV, listen to popular music, play sports, go to the movies. They love to laugh and be entertained. They live their lives in a variety of ways with a variety of interests, talents, skills, and dreams.
Sounds a lot like America, doesn’t it?
Well, of the 127 million people in Japan, just under 600,000 are followers of Christ; that’s only 0.5% of the population. That means that over 99% of the entire nation will live their normal lives never knowing of the joy, hope, and eternal rest offered by Christ. When they die, they die without God’s forgiveness.
Do these numbers bother you? I hope so. Whether or not they do, let me urge you to see these numbers as people rather than numbers. “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” is a quote attributed to Joseph Stalin. I submit to you that a million deaths is a million tragedies. Statistic or not, the 127 million people in Japan are people. They are individuals, 99% of whom are on their way to an eternity apart from God. I think something should be done about that, don’t you?
If you are a Christian, then you know that all who follow Christ, giving their life to him, will be saved. But let me ask you, how are these people to give their life to a God of whom they’ve never heard? How are they to hear without someone telling them? How can someone tell them unless they are sent? So the big question is: Can you go tell them? If not, can you help send someone to tell them?
I encourage you to strongly consider the above questions if you are a Christian. And if you are a Christian, you’ve already been given the privilege, and are commanded by God, to either go or to help send someone else.
We are privileged to Pray.
In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” This is a command to pray for the lost of the world, or in the case I’m bringing today, those 127 million souls in Japan. More specifically, we’ve been given the privilege to pray for missionaries to be sent to reach the lost of the world.
We are privileged to Give.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he says, “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Php 4:16-18). This is a command from God—Paul was writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit—for us to financially support missions work to the world; we are privileged to take part in God’s work in Japan.
We are privileged to Go.
Finally, Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” With this commission, Jesus gives all of us the privilege, and the command, to go to the world with the Gospel of Christ. If no one goes to Japan with the Gospel, the people who live there will not hear. If they don’t hear, they can’t believe. If they don’t believe, they are lost forever.
How else are they to hear?
Romans 10:13-15 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”
If you can go, and I believe more can go than are going, please start looking into it now. Don’t put it off. The time is short. People living in Japan are dying everyday without Christ. The disease is there and you have the cure, if you’re a Christian.
If you can’t go, would you consider helping to send someone who can? My friends, Nathan and Maryah Woerner are looking for partners to help get them to Japan as career missionaries. Their strong desire is to take the Gospel of our Christ to the people there. They desperately want to stop the raging tide of souls dying without a savior. If you can help them, by prayer or by prayer and financial support, would you let them know? Or, if you just want to talk to them about their plans and desires for Japan and what God is doing there, please talk to them. They are wonderful people and they’d love to hear from you. I’ve included a couple of ways you can get hold of them below.
At the very least, if you follow Christ, would you pray for the people of Japan? Ask the Lord of the harvest today to send workers into the plentiful harvest of Japan.