My time in Tokyo was amazing. I am so thankful to God for The Upstream Collective who organizes and runs these "vision trips." The idea behind each vision trip is to introduce leaders and churches to mission fields with the aim of connecting North American churches to international missions. Larry McCrary and Brad Hamilton of the Upstream Collective put together an amazing learning experience for us. Once on the ground missionaries Gary Fujino and Mark Busby were our hosts taking all over Tokyo and educating us on Tokyo culture. These men made the trip a treasure. The Upstream Collective scheduled meetings with several churches, church plants, and missionaries for us to gain a better understanding of the mission work that is being done and needs to be done. We met with some spectacular leaders, like pastors Fukuda and Seima of Grace City Church Tokyo. Their gospel-centered work is inspiring and producing great fruit.
One surprise on the trip was when I was contacted by Austin Allen via Facebook. Austin had arrived in Tokyo that week to join a new work led by Yoshito Noguchi. We scheduled a meet up an an Irish Pub (yes then have them in Tokyo, and I couldn't help myself). I was able to hang with Yoshi and Austin twice during the week to hear their vision and story. Their passion for the gospel and the people of Japan is contagious, and their vision for the future is truly "God-sized."
This is why I went to Tokyo. To see what God is doing, what we need God to do, and how our church can play a role in that. For all the uniqueness of Japanese culture, and the spiritual dynamics of reaching the lost there, I believe the greatest hindrance to the spread of the gospel in Japan is simply a lack of Christians hitting the field, willing to give their lives for the salvation of the Japanese.
I also have to say that I now consider the men I spent over a week with to be my friends. They are solid christians, pastors, and leaders, and God has taught me a lot through each of them.
I cannot recommend The Upstream Collective highly enough. Every church should send some of their leadership on a vision trip to see how they can connect to the gospel work that is being done across the globe.
See more photos from our Vision Trip to Tokyo at Flickr