Veritas: Japan 2017 In Their Own Words:

For the past seven years, The Crossing’s college ministry, Veritas, has partnered with Mission To the World’s church planting team in Nagoya, Japan. Each summer, Veritas takes a group of college students to Nagoya to help run the college ministry at Nisshin Christ Church (NCC) for the months of June and July. Here’s a video overview from Veritas: Japan 2017 led by Kyle & Noelle Richter. Kyle is a Crossing Pastor & Veritas Co-director. Below students from the 2017 team tell about their summer and what it has meant to them.

The Veritas: Japan 2018 team of 8 students led by Justin & Haley Derks are preparing for their trip. It costs $4,750 per student. To support Veritas: Japan 2018: DONATE HERE

Veritas: Japan 2017: In Their Own Words:

Claire Herndon:

I went to Japan this last summer because I felt like God had been calling me outside of my comfort zone to serve. One thing we did this summer was choose a topic for an independent study. A large part of my spiritual growth this summer came as a result of doing that independent study. I had decided to read Respectful Sins by Donald Miller and it was wonderful. It was a convicting book but that’s exactly what I needed. It was a really cool experience to read that book in a mission because I was in this reality where I was with the same people constantly and I was having so much of my sin revealed through that time in Japan and I had that book walking me through if as well. It was a cool balance of taking me out of my comfort zone and revealing hard things to me, and then comforting me with scripture through that.

I think one of the biggest things that grew me this summer was reading that book. I hadn’t realized until this summer that I saw myself more as a “general sinner” but I hadn’t spent much time realizing and fighting my sin. I had begun to lean on grace because it was something I was so comfortable with, and so this idea of disturbing my comfort and revealing my sin really jolted me and it caused me to have such a new and accurate view of myself and of sin which, in turn, gave me a much created picture of my savior.

I really saw God work in my Japanese friends’ lives by fostering curiosity. A lot of the conversations I had with my friends came about because they asked questions about why we acted the way we act, what church is like in the United States etc. They are so intrigued by western culture and most Japanese haven’t had any experience with Christianity at all so there is so much they want to know about and by building those relationship with them the way we did, they felt open to ask about what we believed, and we felt open to ask them the same thing. That’s something I think we can continue to pray for is just for God to foster curiosity in them so that they continue to seek out the Church staff at NCC and hopefully one day give their lives to Christ.I have a great friend, Yuri, who came to visit Columbia during homestay two years ago and while visiting The Crossing, we sang the song This I Believe by Hillsong and to this day she says it’s her favorite song. She listens to it all the time and knows all the words. She doesn’t really believe the lyrics (which is the creed) but I know God is going to use her love of that song to preach truth to her. She is literally singing the creed. When we were in Japan, on our last Sunday in Nagoya, a few of us sang that song at the end of the service and that was the first church service Yuri had come to all summer (perhaps ever) and it was so beautiful. God is using those words in that song to hopefully one day open her eyes to the beautiful Gospel.

I think the most rewarding part of this summer is the idea that I got to be used by God in ways that I’m seeing, like with Yuri, and in ways that I’m not. There’s so much hope in that. We planted many seeds when getting coffee with students, cooking dinner with them or playing games at Hospi. We took small steps and may never see the fruits of our labor, or we may, but either way, I know that our time there was used by the Lord for good. Even when it didn’t necessarily feel like it. I am continuing to find so much hope in that. It’s easy to look back and think “I wish I had said this or done that” but the spirit worked through us perfectly, though we are imperfect, and God will continue to work in them long after we’ve left.

Nick McEnery:

I could go on and on and on about the things I loved about Japan, the things learned, and the ways teammates, my Japanese friends, and myself grew this summer. Instead, here are three big takeaways from my time in Japan that shaped the way I lived while I was there, and continue to shape the way I live now that I’ve been back at home for a semester.

  1. God is so big and I am so small.

It was crazy to see how the gospel lives in Japan, and that there are people thousands of miles from home who know and love and serve the same Jesus that I am trying to love and serve with my life. God is truly King of the entire world. Despite seeing his glory this summer, I spent a lot of my time in Japan fighting with God for control of my life and ministry. This summer really taught me how incredibly proud, impatient, and selfish I am (this was especially apparent in contrast with Japanese, who are humble and selfless even without knowing Jesus). I stepped on a lot of peoples toes this summer. I made a lot of mistakes. I struggled to really believe in the forgiveness and grace we have in Christ. In the end, I learned just how weak and useless I am without God, and how much I need the grace and forgiveness I often doubt.

  1. We are called to live differently.

Being loved and redeemed Jesus changes the game when it comes to how we live. If really are people of God, then the holy spirit is working, slowly but surely, to make us more like Jesus. Our sins are forgiven, our souls redeemed, and our lives restored. I think the Bible is pretty clear that this has an effect on the way we live.

Jesus tell us in John 13:34-35 that people will know we are his by the way we love one another. In Japan, this became a reality, as the students picked up on different things we did, and asked us (or, more often, Kaji, a Japanese missionary from the church) why we acted the way we did. It led to us being able to share what a difference Jesus makes in our lives.

  1. Hospitality night is aptly named.

Hospitality night (or hospi, as it is fondly referred to by the Japanese) is our weekly ministry event where we invite students to the church, cook them dinner, talk, and play games. In Japan, it could be pretty difficult to actually talk about the gospel with college students. While we do give a blessing and a short message about the gospel each week, at hospi, all we really could do to show them who Jesus is and what the gospel is about was welcome them in, invest in their lives, and show them genuine love and friendship. Hospi is more about giving students a place to feel welcomed and cared for, something they might not experience on a weekly basis. Many of our Japanese friends are outsiders in their own ways, and hospitality night was a chance for us to show them the love and inclusion that exists in the gospel. This form of hospitality is a principle that some of my teammates and I have been intentional in living out here in Columbia.

Maggie Brothers:

Spending time in Japan this summer gave me a better look at what heaven is going to be like and made me long for heaven even more.  We as a team had to be praying for each other and for ourselves constantly. My most constant prayer was for the ability to trust God and his plan for the people of Japan, we only got to see his plan play out firsthand for two months, and we had to trust that fruit would come long after we were gone.  The Newsome family and the staff at NCC have been faithfully doing God’s work in Japan for decades and they were a huge encouragement and blessing to us while we were there.  They could give us perspective on the community there that we would have no way to grasp in our two-month window.

As the summer went on, I got to see my teammates step out in boldness more and more.  They had awkward conversations with friends about the gospel and braved the language barrier to share the love of Jesus with people we had just met.

These friendships have continued to develop long past the summer, we’ll get to see a handful of students over winter break and in the upcoming semester! Nearing the end of our time in Japan, students were asking questions about the church and attending services on Sunday.  We prayed that they would continue to wonder and ask questions about the gospel and that God would continue to work in their lives, revealing himself to them constantly.

The summer was so great and so hard in so many ways, ultimately what was most rewarding was getting to worship God with our brothers and sisters in christ.  In an unfamiliar setting, in an unfamiliar tongue, we raised one voice to our Father, just as we will someday for all eternity.  It was a beautiful picture of heaven and a comforting reminder that the gospel is bigger than The Crossing, bigger than Veritas, but is as ageless and as eternal as our God himself.

From the ESI Archive: Other Japan Related Posts:

Project Japan 2017

Newsomes in Nagoya, Japan

Mission Spotlight: Japan

Mission Sending: A Girls’ Group Story

Sources: Kyle Richter, Justin Derks, Veritas Students as listed.

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