At the beginning of the year, we felt God calling us to go to Japan, connect with missionaries, share the gospel and see what God was doing over there.
The first thing we did was contact our friend Galactus Jack (UK DJ/Evangelist) who goes out to Japan every year to preach the gospel and perform EDM music. Ben invited us to join him on his next Japan trip as a supporting artist – which gave us an opportunity to meet various ministries out there.
For us the aim of the trip was to get to know ministries out there, encourage young people, preach the gospel where we could and see how Rivers & Robots could potentially go over as a band in the coming years. Throughout our time there we met some of the most incredible musicians, artists, film makers, dancers, missionaries and pastors, all passionate to see a generation come to know Jesus. It was a truly amazing place with beautiful people.
We played at several events with Ben in the 8 days, and then stayed in Tokyo for another 5 days to connect with more missionaries and worship leaders, meanwhile Ben visited Okinawa to perform at a few more outreach events. Over the course of the trip, 85 young people responded to the gospel, some for the first time and some making re-commitments. We also got to pray with several young people and missionaries serving in Japan.
The Need Is Great In Japan
Everywhere we travelled we met people who knew nothing about Jesus, the cross and salvation. For some, their only knowledge of christianity was hearing about Christmas, but many still didn't know the reason for celebrating it! It was fascinating to speak to christians in Japan about their journey of faith, and to hear some of the things that were difficult to grasp at first.
Japan has one of the smallest Christian populations in the world with less than 1% of the population believing in Jesus, and many of the remaining 99% (125 million people!) will have heard nothing about Jesus and the gospel at all. That makes Japan the 2nd most unreached nation (by population).
You can see the effects of this playing out in so many ways. Japan is ranked one of the top 30 richest countries in the world, and has one of the lowest crime rates; but, at the same time, Japan has one of the highest rates of depression and suicide with over 25,000 people choosing to take their own lives every year.
There is also a very visible culture of isolation and loneliness with many young people lacking hope and purpose in life. For many, escapism seems to be the best way out – instead of seeking out meaningful relationships, many instead turn to alcohol, gambling, pornography and video games as a way of escape.
In 1670 Blaise Pascal the French philosopher wrote about a God-shaped vacuum in every heart when he said:
The fact is, we have such an amazing hope in Jesus. The message of the gospel is one of forgiveness from the shame of sin and a new life in Him – one full of freedom, peace, fulfilment and lasting joy in relationship with our Creator God!
“And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'” - 2 Corinthians 5 v 19-20
We believe that God has placed His spotlight on this nation and we sense He is about to move in powerful way. Japan is ripe for a mighty outpouring of God's Spirit and we sense God is about to do something incredible with the young people over there! Could it be that as we pray and seek the face of God, we will see a whole nation turn to Jesus? There is power in the gospel to take the most desperate of people, rescue, restore and redeem them and when Jesus is exalted and lifted high over a nation everything changes!
Arriving back home it definitely feels like this is only the beginning of our journey with the nation of Japan and we look forward to all that God is going to do as we continue to follow where He is leading us. We would encourage you to watch the VLOG series we made about the trip below, and pray for this amazing nation. Who knows maybe God will lay this place on your heart too!