Well, that was interesting! This morning I was asked to lead worship time at Joshiseigakuin, a female Christian high school in Kaminakazato, northern Tokyo. I had gradually gotten to know the principal, who attends the church where I’m serving as a missionary. On my previous visit, I mistakingly believed a much smaller room to be the chapel and today accidently took a large gulp of green tea when the principal informed me that all 600 students would be listening, intently, in the huge auditorium that actually served as the place of worship. Over the years I’ve had experience leading prayer, bible studies and words of exhortation in the states and abroad but never spoken to so many people at one time about Christ. However, I’m always learning that as a missionary, you have to expect the unexpected and still carry out the vision.
The students giggled as the chaplain introduced me in, what I thought, was very good English. Even though there’s a great deal of my language taught and spoken at the school, I imagine services would mostly be in held in Japanese. We sang a hymn from a collection of classics, which is something else that I was not used to as the worship songs from back home are mostly modern or newly composed. Still, being a Christian, I was more than familiar with the rhythm and lyrics of “What a friend we have in Jesus”. Looking out over the audience as we sang, there was a brief moment of awe in seeing Japanese faces, mostly young, some old, singing about a Saviour that we both shared, regardless of national identity.
Then it was scripture time and once again the chapel echoed with shy laughter when the iphone came out and I went to Romans 12:1-2. Hey look, before you get all religious on me, with the missionary life of travel and unpredictable circumstances, it really is the best alternative for me and my poor shoulder, which has had quite enough of the huge study bible in the ol’ messenger bag. As I spoke of the theme of the day, giving ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, the auditorium grew quiet followed by nodding heads and thumbs up. To know that God requires only what He has already given, a life for a life, is very important to such young people. You can feel as if giving your time and dreams in service to Him is wasting your youth, but then we have Jesus who offered His body and dignity to a criminal’s death on a cross in His early 30’s. A young life, brief but selflessly spent. However, just like a young seed that sprouts a new, colorful bud after first being put into the earth, so the Lord Jesus arose to vibrant, envigorating life and satisfied purpose. He promises provision and blessing on earth and eternal life afterwards for all who will follow His example.
We prayed and then the students left me in the auditorium with many peace signs, frantic waves and laughter. They were a well balanced bunch; quiet and attentive during the message then lively and personable when the lights came on. The principal and head English teacher assured me it went very well and we met in the office for anecdotes over tea. As we talked, the possibility opened up for more ministry at the boy’s Christian highschool across the way. How could one refuse such youthful promise?