Japan (MNN) — Of the 22,000 students from 144 countries represented at Urbana ’06, around 100 of them were Japanese students. During the week, students were encouraged to form family groups for prayer, Bible study and discussions about things they were learning.
‘Alan’ and ‘Miho’ are missionaries in Asia with SIM. Because Miho is Japanese, the two went to the Japanese family group and were able to make some strategic connections. As people talked about why they were at Urbana ’06, the leader of the meeting asked how many had come to faith in Christ since being in the United States. Around one-third of the group stood, a testimony to God’s work in the lives of international students in the USA.
The leader of the meeting, Alan says, is part of a network that grew out of previous Urbana conventions, “When some Japanese were at Urbana, they felt like they wanted to find a way to help Japanese who come to Christ in the US connect back to churches at home in Japan, and sometimes that’s hard for them to do.”
That network is enabling greater mission work among Japanese Christians, and as students shared their hearts, Alan says they discovered some exciting possibilities, “Some of the women want to be missionaries and it was exciting for us because SIM is an agency that has many offices around the world, so we have ways to send Japanese into very unusual places, for Japan, places like Africa or South Asia.”
Alan and Miho are excited to see how SIM’s international scope and networking at Urbana are providing these kinds of connections, “This one Japanese friend had tried to apply with SIM, and had been told that if she was going to be sent out from the USA she needed to have certain immigration things in place. But what she didn’t know was that she could apply to SIM in Asia and be sent out somewhere else. And that was really encouraging to us.”
Alan says it’s the idea of missionaries ‘from everywhere to everywhere’ instead of ‘the West to the rest.’ Alan and Miho live and work in an area with a large number of unreached people, and Alan says because there are so many kinds of people that have yet to hear about Him, “The task itself deserves to have people from everywhere work together. And we want to have all these cultures offering their praise to Jesus anyway and we’re going to be living it out in heaven. Why not live it out now as we’re obeying Him to take the Gospel to every nation, and make disciples of every nation.”
At Urbana ’06, says Alan, they got to experience a small taste of that global church worshipping together.