Nick and Amanda Bonacci have the heart for missions that Dr. Tom Elliff spoke of when he addressed students and faculty in chapel on August 30. They also have a heart for the Japanese people—a heart that drew them back to Osaka, Japan, with seven other students and one professor, July 31 – Aug. 11.
The Bonaccis, who served as missionaries in Osaka before coming to Southwestern, say while most people think of sushi and robots when thinking of Japan, they think of chances to evangelize.
“I don’t think a lot of people recognize the level of lostness there,” Nick said. “It’s a country of 127 to almost 128 million people, and almost all of them are living their life with no hope and without any real knowledge of salvation or Jesus or anything that can give them hope.”
Nick, who has studied at Southwestern since 2009, helped organize the 12-day August mission trip with Professor of Humanities and Associate Dean of Students in the College at Southwestern David Bertch.
Bertch, who taught on world religions and worldview thinking during the trip, said Buddhism and Shinto largely affect Japanese life, though the Japanese people do not see either religion as “religion.”
“Very few Japanese will tell you why they worship or what they worship because they just think of it as their everyday life,” Bertch said. “It’s just part of their culture.”
Still, Japanese people hold the traditions associated with those religions tightly, Nick said.
“It’s not really necessarily that they’re locked into being Buddhist or Shinto, but they’re locked into being Japanese,” he said. “They view themselves as a group, which in some ways is very good but in other ways is like being tied to a bunch of people on a sinking ship. You know the whole thing is going down, but you’re all going down together.”
Through the team’s work passing out 2,220 tracts and offering free English practice sessions, the IMB missionaries in Osaka met one believer and four Japanese people interested in learning more about the Gospel.
The Bonaccis say they hope to return to Japan as soon as Nick has completed his Masters of Divinity. The couple has already applied through the IMB and said they hope to know their assignment by late fall.
As for others considering short-term or long-term missions, Bertch and the Bonaccis agreed that the experience is invaluable.
“It stimulates a heart for the world,” Bertch said.
Elliff said much of the same during his chapel sermon.
“How can you just shop, just get your gas?” Elliff asked. “How can you say no when God asks you to engage people?”
For the 10 who trekked to Japan, the answer is simple. They can’t.
“Missions is right here in the United States,” Bertch said. “The Dallas-Fort Worth area, I bet there are folks from every part of the world right here. This cross-cultural ministry can be done right here in our own land.”