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Pastor Dan’s Message about Japan

Japan, the land of the rising sun, has been for me a place of great mystery.

Born in the aftermath of a terribly destructive war with Japan, I watched as American attitudes toward Japan shifted from rage, to compassion, to admiration and now to genuine, long-term friendship between the people of our two nations.

I visited Japan once, ten years ago. I was amazed then at the culture and hospitality of its people. However, the focus of my spiritual attention has been elsewhere.

Until now.

Three years ago, a Japanese pastor visited our church in the same week as a devastating earthquake and tsunami left thousands dead and leveled entire cities. His anguish moved us to send a team of musicians that we hoped might encourage our fellow believers there. Then, more teams followed. And Japanese believers came here.

Little by little, our church has formed deep emotional connections with our friends in the ancient city of Kyoto.

We are Nashvillians, which means that we carry music to the world. It may not seem much, but like the old song says, “little is much when God is in it.”  Loren Cunningham, founder with Youth With a Mission, had a prophetic word for the people of that first team Christ Church Nashville to Japan – record your music in Japanese. Honor the people of Japan with your gifts. God will do the rest.”

That’s what we have been trying to do. But in return, we have learned so much. They teach us about how to be hospitable, kind, considerate, and respectful in ways that many of us had nearly forgotten. They have reminded us about how precious our Christian heritage really is. And they have helped us understand how spiritual entrepreneurship really can be.

Japan is not a place of poverty and woe. We have no pitiful pictures of starving children to move people’s hearts as we do our work there. Indeed, we are learning as much as we are giving. But that is the story this particular missions’ emphasis has to tell: “cast your bread upon the waters and in many days it will return.”

The drama of our deepening ties with Japan continues to unfold. We have baptized several college students. We have ministered in many places there. We are encouraging the hearts of a Christian minority. And they are helping us grasp the realities of a globalized culture, which serves us here at home.

We are going to the Land of the Rising Sun because the Word of God said this would happen long ago in the Psalmist’s prayer, “from the rising of the sun, to the going down of the same, the name of the Lord, shall be praised.”

From war, to peace, to cooperation, to family – that’s our journey with our beloved Japanese friends and our calling from the Holy Spirit for this hour.