This Day

In September of 2010 I visited Sendai, Japan on a business trip.

Of course, to say it was just a business trip would be missing the entire point. I have the honor of working for a company that is, truly, a ministry supported by business principles. And so, when we partner with companies for key endeavors, we seek like-minded people and organizations whenever we can. So our trip to Japan wasn't simply a business trip, it was a part of our ministry partnership with another organization, whose goals align very closely with ours: to spread the Gospel.

So while we were there a day was reserved for us to go on the field and see the true fruits of their business: supporting Missionaries who were spreading the Gospel. It was one of the most amazing and humbling days of my life, as we pulled up to a fairly secluded, small beach where a group of missionaries had made their home.

We were treated like long lost friends, who had come from afar bearing the gift of presence. From the moment we stepped out of our vehicle and into the lives of the men and women of faith, we were family. We were loved.

A feast - yes a feast! - had been prepared in our honor; a feast of spaghetti and coffee. We all gathered into the camper - 30 of us? - and ate in a large circle, sharing our stories and learning of one another. But even as we enjoyed that moment, the team of missionaries had a greater highlight of their day yet to come: the mission.

You see, this team lived and breathed for sharing the Gospel. Their desire was to share the Good News of redeeming grace across Japan, with surprising vigor and frankness. The technique would have been laughed at, if not considered offensive, in America. There was a van with an incredible loud speaker that would drive down the road and every mile or so stop and broadcast a verse or message about Christ. The message was loud and clear: Repent, for the time of Judgment is soon.

A team on bikes would, at the same time, drive up to every household and deliver a tract to each house's door. It had to be delivered to the door, so that a neighbor would not be bothered by whether or not the home took the message in or not; were it placed in the mailbox, they might be seen taking the tract in, and giving it interest. In Japan, things are different. Things take time; but when a person comes to follow Christ there is a life-change that happens so dramatically beautiful. They are committed.

This was hard for me. This method of evangelism, so foreign: where was the relationship? Where was the deep philosophical arguments to be won? Where was the acts of kindness?

How was it that a man could dedicate his life to riding around in a car, playing a CD over and over again, literally giddy with excitement because someone on the street glanced at him as he played his CD.

"She heard," he said. Every moment he was living his life's dream: sharing the Gospel with anyone who had ears to hear.

In September of 2010, I was a witness as this team of Missionaries would wake up every day, take out maps developed by one of the leading technology companies in Japan, and be sure that, literally, every street and path were covered with the audible and written messages of Christ. It was a small army that was succeeding in small victories everyday. I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that every single person living in Miyako, Japan, heard the Word of the Lord.

Yesterday, at 3:21pm local time, a 13 foot high wave struck Miyako.

In America, today, I had to watch as an incredible man of God's lip quivered, trying to compose himself while watching video of his home country be ravaged by the elements. Trying to tell he was okay, while still waiting to hear news on whether his wife and children were ok.

Whether anyone he knew was ok.

Today a man whom, with every interaction I have with him I grow to love more and more and respect more and more, flew home to Japan and is trying to navigate a way to his family and friends. He's been able to keep us updated with texts, emails and Skype, but we have no idea when his battery might run out. And I will be praying for his safety tonight as I can't conceive of how epic his journey home will be.

With all of the 24-hr, global, local, and glocal media coverage, it's easy to get used to tragedy because we simply have no frame of reference. We can have a bleeding heart for a country, but still go about our day because we've seen seen the people, eaten at their table, or shared the Good News up and down their coast. It's too easy for me to take a glance at the CNN headlines, acknowledge the tragedy, and move on to the next hot thing.

With the memory of a shoreline that's now devoid of homes, the anticipation of word from a friend on a quest, and the need to work through meetings making decisions about a project that we hope will change people's lives all while a man is waiting to hear something, anything, about his family...

I can't say this day was hard. This day was easy. This day I saw the townhomes off 65/40 that I always wonder how to get to. This day I drove home, on a highway, and it took the usual 20-30 minutes. This day I got a kiss from my beautiful bride when I walked in the door. This day was easy.

But this day was hard.