It’s time for the Church to Love Japan
by Janice Tai // January 22, 2021, 12:16 am
“We feel God is doing something new with this generation of youth, university students and young adults in Japan. There is a different spirit, a different mentality, and an openness to the Gospel," said Ps Jeremy Seaward on the vision of LoveJapan. All photos by Marcus Chow.
Twelve years ago, the late Rev Dr Rick Seaward heard from God that He wanted the churches in Singapore to reach Japan for Him.
Japan was to be the next country that Singapore would bring transformation and revival to, after her efforts with Timor Leste. Today, every major denomination in Singapore has some form of mission work in Timor Leste and thousands of lives have been impacted through education and humanitarian projects as well as church planting endeavours.
In 2013, Ps Seaward shared with Love Singapore the vision to reach the entire nation of Japan.
But Ps Seaward died suddenly in a car accident in 2018 in Brazil, where he was scheduled to minister at a missions conference.
Believers in Singapore, however, have continued to make plans for Japan.
“Go forward … This is not a moment to hold back.”
In 2019, LoveSingapore key committee churches met with local leaders in six significant cities in Japan and launched the LoveJapan vision with 120 pastors and leaders in Singapore.
Teams and missionaries were getting ready to head to Japan.
Then Covid-19 happened last year, and plans were stalled.
Ps Seaward’s son, Jeremy Seaward, who became the Senior Pastor of Victory Family Centre in 2018, began asking God for His word for the church in Singapore about how to proceed with Japan, given the difficulty of securing visas and border closures currently.
God pointed him to Exodus 14:15 which had the Lord saying to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward.”
Give me a mountain in Japan
“Go forward, and this is the word that’s been ringing in my heart. This is not a moment to hold back,” Ps Jeremy Seaward shared with the audience of pastors and leaders at the LoveSingapore Pastors’ Summit last week (Jan 14).
“It’s time to pick up our feet and start to step into the land and I want to challenge us today that we would not wait or delay, we would not stop, but that we would move forward into what God is calling us to do, to reach Japan,” he added.
Ps Seaward then shared from Joshua 14 and 15 and showed the various parallels between that passage where Caleb asked Joshua for the hill country that God promised him through Moses and the situation regarding the LoveJapan vision in Singapore.
In both situations, Ps Seaward said, a prophetic word was given to a leader and there were delays. Similar to how plans for LoveJapan were delayed in Singapore, Caleb waited for 45 years while Israel moved about in the wilderness. When he spoke about the matter to Joshua, he was already 85 years old.
“It’s time for the Church to respond in faith, and turn Japan to Jesus.”
Yet now, in both situations, a fresh opportunity presents itself. Caleb spoke to Joshua about what God and Moses promised him when the land was being divided and allotted. Today, travel restrictions are being carefully eased as countries go about their vaccination drives.
Even as there is opportunity for action, challenges also present themselves. Caleb was much older by now, was he physically able to battle the Anakites whose cities are huge and fortified? After all, the land that he wanted to possess was on high ground, of hilly terrain, and harder to transverse. Similarly, the mission to Japan will have its own set of challenges of gathering enough people and resources as well as getting travel access to the country.
“Caleb’s response was important. Caleb personalised the promise that God gave Moses for himself and he told Joshua to give him the mountain,” said Ps Seaward.
“Similarly, every one of us has to personalise the promise given years ago about LoveJapan. Say Lord, give me a mountain in Japan, give our church an inheritance in that land. We have to have a conviction about this in order to open the door of faith for others,” he added.
New hunger for God
Japan has been rocked by economic recession since the 90s. Its aging population is increasing faster than any other nation, making economic recovery challenging. Now, a disenchanted younger generation is seeking alternatives to traditional values and lifestyles.
The country has also been battered by tsunamis, floods, typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. While the country stands at a dire crossroads, God is setting her up for an unprecedented revival. Only about 1% of its population are Christians.
“Even in the midst of Covid-19, there’s a turning of hearts right here.”
In the past, Japan seemed closed to the Gospel. The polite, hardworking Japanese were too busy to heed the message of salvation. The idea of a Creator is foreign to the Japanese worldview, and few believe in the existence of a personal God. But pastors and Christian workers who have been serving in Japan report changes. They are also seeing salvations as they share the Gospel and witness signs and wonders in its wake.
“People have tried to plant churches and fail. But I’m telling you something new is happening in Japan. People are turning to Christ and there is a hunger for God. Even in the midst of Covid-19, there’s a turning of hearts right here,” said Ps Seaward, who reiterated that Singapore has to play a part in the spiritual history of Japan because her leaders believe in the prophetic promise spoken over her that Singapore is to be the “Antioch of Asia”.
To cover the entire nation, the LoveJapan planning team has divided Japan into seven regions and earmarked 20 significant cities each with a population of over one million, and a high proportion of young people.
“There is a different spirit, a different mentality, and an openness to the Gospel.”
They are challenging every church in Singapore to make plans to plant one church in one of the seven regions of Japan, and another church specifically in the Kanto region (the most populous region). Each church will operate in autonomy, but will collaborate and support each other in a spirit of unity and alliance.
The LoveJapan vision will focus on a few key aspects: Impacting significant cities, reaching the young generation, signs and wonders in evangelism, church planting, and disaster relief.
“We feel God is doing something new with this generation of youth, university students and young adults in Japan. There is a different spirit, a different mentality, and an openness to the Gospel, to foreigners, and to even the English language. And so, we are making this an intentional focus of the church planting efforts,” said Ps Seaward.
“We need to start moving forward, it might be in planning, it might be just in setting a date to go for a recce exposure trip by faith when the borders open up and it might be sending some people for language training. It’s time for the Church to respond in faith, and turn Japan to Jesus.”
A consultation session for those keen to learn more about LoveJapan and participate in its exposure trips have been scheduled on Jan 28 at Victory Family Centre at Tampines. There are plans for exposure trips to be made to Okinawa on July 21 to 26, Kanto on August 15 to 21, Fukuoka, Tohuku-Hokkaido and Chubu on Sept 13 to 20 as well as Osaka on Sept 17 to 24, all of which are subject to changes due to travel restrictions.
For more information, email [email protected]
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