Last summer one of the pastors at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, Patrick Allen, approached me and
asked if I would be interested in joining a team he was heading up to go to Japan to serve missionaries. I
had never thought of going to Japan ever. But he wanted me to consider it so I gave it some thought and
This would be a follow-up from a trip Patrick had taken the year before. He didn’t have a solid plan
yet but felt very confident he wanted counselors on the team he would be taking. He also asked Tonya,
our counselor for children, to join the team. After a bit of a roller coaster ride of “going/not going” it was
finally decided. We were a part of the Japan Missions team. What we were going to be doing was still
being determined but we were told to keep a flexible spirit. So that we did.
We were going with Mission to the World to the Japan Church Planters Institute conference. It became
clear that there would be a great need for counselors to support the missionaries who were serving
throughout the country. While the rest of the team served in vital areas of the conference (set up,
registration, and an amazing children’s ministry), Tonya and I connected with missionaries and their
families to encourage them and offer support for the many emotional struggles that come with ministry.
Japan is an amazing country. The Japanese are efficient, productive, wealthy, and healthy. Things run
smoothly there and the people have it together and have purpose. Or so it seems. Despite Japan looking
like a well-oiled machine, there is great need.
It is a culture of shame and honor. Your reputation is everything and your value comes from what you
produce. This creates emptiness and pain that makes Japan the country with the highest suicide rate in
the industrialized world. Karoshi is the Japanese word that means “workdeath.” It is a far too common
cause of death in this country where your work is everything.
This is why the gospel is so needed and yet less than 1% of the massive population is Christian. Japan is
in great need and the missionaries there have a significant weight to carry as they seek to bring gospel
hope to this self-sufficient nation.
It was an amazing privilege for us to serve in this way and provide biblical counseling and support to
those who have chosen to give up all that is familiar to reach the people of Japan. Even though these
missionaries are serving in an economically stable area the sacrifice is significant. They were so grateful
for the encouragement they received from our visit and we were humbled to be a part of the work