God answered prayers as 15 Southwestern students and faculty spent three weeks reaching the people of Japan with the Gospel, May 11-31. The mission team saw God’s hand in their work as they witnessed 17 professions of faith.

The team conducted all of its outreach this year in Tokyo, where they talked with students at Waseda University, one of the most prestigious private universities in Japan. They had lunch with students and went to coffee shops and McDonald’s near the campus to meet students.

Fourteen of the professions of faith took place at Tokyo International Baptist Church on Thursday, May 17, when 90 14-year-old girls from Tamasei School in Tokyo, a private Christian school, came to the church for an International Day. They attended a worship service, then rotated among various stations representing different nations. One of the stops was at the Joy Café, where some Southwestern team members were stationed at tables to witness to the girls. 

“We used tracts in English and Japanese or an app on our phones, God Tools, which was in English and Japanese,” says Associate Professor of Missions Mike Morris, who led the trip. “We shared the plan of salvation and invited the girls to surrender their lives to Christ in repentance and faith.” 

The other three professions of faith took place at the Waseda University campus. In all, Southwestern team members initiated 396 conversations, Morris says. Ninety of those were rejected before the conversation could turn spiritual. Of the remaining conversations, 155 progressed to inviting the people to surrender their lives to Christ. 

For Southwestern graduate Joseph Kim, a visit to a detention center was the most memorable aspect of the trip. “My ministry partner and I had fellowship with a detainee during a 30-minute session,” Kim says. “We shared prayer requests and, most poignantly, heard his favorite Bible verse. He cited Job 1:21: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’

“These words, coming from a refugee imprisoned far from his native land—Ghana, I believe—moved me, challenging me to greater endurance and joy in the faith. What a privilege to travel so far to see such faith.”

Master’s student Justin Knippers says working with an outreach program in homeless ministry at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo was his favorite part of the trip. “A small team from our group played worship songs before a sermon and passed out food,” he says. “We saw many become encouraged.” 

“I have been on 14 previous mission trips, two of which where small missions that I led in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nara areas of Japan,” Knippers says. “But this mission trip has by far been one of the best I have ever experienced.”