801 February 21

Land of the Rising Sun

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This post will be a little more personal compared to the more academic blogs on this site, but I hope it gives a more peripheral view of the gospel’s impact on our world.

My wife and I have recently been given an amazing opportunity to teach English in Japan. We are working with an English Immersion School called MeySen Academy, located in the city of Sendai. (I encourage you to check out the link: http://www.meysen.ac.jp/engli/eng.htm)

During some training this last week, the principal gave the new teachers a presentation on the school’s history. In the late 1960’s, a group of American Christians obeyed the Lord’s command to carry the gospel to Japan. Upon their arrival, the Japanese in the surrounding area were a bit reluctant to foreigners living among them for the sole purpose of spreading a Western belief system, so the missionaries thought it would be in their best interest to start a kindergarten. In 1967, they bought the cheapest piece of land they could find in Sendai (outside the city on top of a hill) and started the school.

During this time, all of the kids in the community walked to their school. MeySen was quite far from the area, so they bought a bus to take kids to and from school. The community’s kindergarten teacher heard about the foreign competition, so one weekend he took a trip to see the school for himself. After seeing it, he communicated his sympathy for something that would never work: the school was in the worst location possible. No one would come.

The missionaries began teaching English lessons through Bible stories. These pioneers slept in tents, built the school and road leading up to it, and taught every lesson -all for the sake of sharing the gospel to this community.

Some forty years later, the school boasts two campuses, over 60 teachers on staff, and its own curriculum-development team. The curriculum ‘GRAPESeed’ is now used in over 16 countries, and has developed a software and production studio to create multi-media accompaniments to the lessons.

After the presentation of MeySen’s success over the last forty years, I did not hear the conclusion I had been anticipating. I expected an extended appreciation to the management staff for all their hard work and dedication, or a solemn remembrance of those who had paved the way for their successors to succeed (though both are due).

Rather, the principal expressed a humble plea to continue to make the gospel the filter of all we work towards. All of the success the school has experienced was attributed to a faithful God who is doing what he has promised he would always do: display his glory through the gospel.

To witness the advance of the gospel in a foreign country is such a great testament to its truthfulness. The life, death and resurrection of Christ has so impacted our world that the gospel has made its way from a locked room with several men fearing for their lives (John 20:19) to a classroom of Japanese 1st-6th graders in an after school program.

It is has been refreshing to rise above the smog of the Bible belt to breathe in the fresh air of the gospel’s power. Be encouraged. At times the world seems too dark. Japan is not without its problems. The spiritual climate is certainly bleak, with deep roots in traditional Shinto-Buddhism. Empty traditionalism has marked the country with high suicide-rates and a Christian population of less than 2%.

But there are pockets of believers throughout the country praying for their cities. The light is shining, pushing back the darkness. And the gospel will go forth, just as it always has. It can’t be stopped.