Andrew Hirakawa’s Japan Missions Trip: Final Reflections
The following is a Japan Summer Missions trip update by Andrew Hirakawa.
Hi Lighthouse Church Family!
My name is Andrew Hirakawa and I have recently returned from my six week mission trip to Japan. Before I begin, let me introduce myself. I started attending Lighthouse Community Church with my family when it was first launched in 2003 (I was about 7 years old). During my time at Lighthouse, I was involved with the youth ministries, played drums for the worship team, and helped with the ushering team until I graduated from South Torrance high school in 2014. The following school year, I chose to attend the University of Arizona and majored in Public Health. This upcoming fall semester, I will be a first year pharmacy student at the University of Arizona.
This summer, I went on a short term summer mission trip with Epic. For those of you who don’t know, Epic is the Asian American ministry of Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusades for Christ (cru.org). Every year, Cru sends hundreds of college students to mission trips around the globe. This year, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with 15 other people to Kyoto, Japan. We partnered with Student Impact, the college campus ministry of Japan Campus Crusades for Christ (JCCC; http://www.japanccc.org/en/). There are currently seven Student Impact ministries in Japan and we partnered with the Kyoto Student Impact (http://www.studentimpact.jp/kyoto/). The Kyoto Student Impact focuses on three different campuses across Kyoto namely, Ritsumeikan University, Doshisha University, and Kyoto University. Each of these campuses have different strengths for carrying out ministry. For example, Ritsumeikan has many international students, Doshisha was founded as a Christian university, and Kyoto University is ranked #2 in Japan. Each week, we visited each of these campuses to form friendships with Japanese college students and use these friendships to share the gospel. In addition to ministry, we spent time together as team, had separated men’s/women’s times, participated in morning prayer, and set aside half of day per week to spend time personally with God.
Here are a few things I have learned on this trip:
- Being sent and the knowledge of being sent are two very different things. When I was younger, I always heard about missions but never committed myself to going. After experiencing it first hand, I have been able to understand what it means to be satisfied in God and His will for us. I have never experienced more joy in God and have also been able to see God’s heart for lost. The mission field may not be where you are called, but we are commanded to go, teach, baptize, and make disciples wherever we are (Matthew 28:19-20).
- Training on Conflict Resolution. One unnamed cause of failed missions are a result of poor conflict resolution between missionaries. The Bible has multiple passages which address conflict resolution but yet over the past few years I have seen unresolved conflict in college ministry and churches. As God has reconciled Himself to us through Christ, we are commanded to reconcile conflict between each other (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
- The importance and power of prayer. Each morning we set aside one hour to pray for the day of ministry and our Japanese friends. Many of my team members challenged me to pray “big” prayers and expect greater things from God. During the first week, we prayed for one person to pray to receive Christ and God was faithful to our prayer. The consecutive weeks we started to pray that one person would pray to receive Christ each day. During one of the weeks, God answered our prayers and six people prayed to receive Christ! Before the trip, my prayer life was minimal and I had more reliance on my own abilities rather than God. After this trip, God has shown me that He is powerful and that my faith in Him is weak.
- Stewarding Ethnic Identity. God has each created us uniquely and given us special abilities to share the gospel. For example, as Asian Americans, the Japanese are more likely to share their true feelings with us simply because we look like them. Furthermore, Asians Americans have an easier time adapting to the Japanese culture and norms. For example, other missionaries may struggle with eating the local food because it is not what they are accustomed to. In the Bible, Paul was respected by others because of his background as a Pharisee and a Roman citizen.
Because of your generous support and prayers, the following statistics are the seeds we sowed and the fruit we were entitled to see:
- Conversations Initiated: 819
- Spiritual Conversations: 264
- Gospel Presentations: 81
- Prayers to Receive Christ: 13
Here are the names of the students who prayed to receive Christ: Yuzuho, Mei, Suchi, Hiroki, Takahiro, Hiro, Zhang Hai Qiong, Misaki, Hikari, Yui, Fuyuki, Yuki, and Mao.
To compare these statistics to previous years, the record for prayers to receive Christ was six. Because of God’s power, our team not only surpassed the record but shattered it. This year, more people came to Christ than the last three years of Epic teams combined. I mention this not to boast about our success but to prove that God is more powerful than I had previously believed. God revealed to me that my faith in Him is small and weak. Furthermore, many missionaries claim that Japan is a “missionary graveyard” and that nobody prays receive to Christ. As I have witnessed, the Japanese are not far from God’s reach. Japan desperately needs more missionaries and still remains the second largest unreached people group.
Lastly, I have many more stories and things to share but wanted to keep this post short. If you would like to hear more please contact me! I would love to share and am grateful that the church was able to support me on this trip.