"I heard that Christians sometimes pray."

By Jeff Saunders, Oct 12, 2017

“Can we step outside for a minute? There’s something I want to talk with you about.”

I was approached by a fellow classmate with this question while I was getting ready for my Japanese language class to start.

“Sure,” I responded. “Let’s talk.”

Up until recently this student, originally from Taiwan, hasn't opened up much to anyone about her personal life. Remembering that I'm a 牧師 bokushi (minister), she asked if she could speak with me about something. With angst and fear she told me about her older sister’s recent diagnosis with an aggressive form of stomach cancer and that she didn't know what to do. She then shared that she’d learned from a friend that Christians will sometimes pray in situations like this and wanted help. Not knowing a pastor or even a Christian in her own community and life, she came to me with a desire to know what Christianity and prayer really is.

Using the brief time I had I gave her a snapshot of Christianity and prayer, but I could tell that her inability to help her sister was the thing most weighing on her. So I asked her if she would mind if I prayed with her. She agreed, and so right then and there I prayed for her, her sister, and her family.

It wasn’t until we finished praying that I truly began to feel her anxiety and fear. Tears were streaming down her face as she shared with me how scared she was about her sister. What’s going to happen to her? Why did she get cancer? Is she going to die? How can I help her? She asked if I could teach her to pray so that she could do the same with her sister and family when she visited the hospital.

The next week she asked if she could come to church with us sometime. She had never been to church before and wondered if it was OK to come as a non-Christian. This past Sunday was her first experience of church, and it was amazing. She loved it. She was really confused, but she loved it. She wanted to know everything about the service. Why do you pray at church? Why do you sing? What are you singing about? Who is this person at the front talking? Why is everyone else being quiet? What's the armor of God (thanks pastor, it was already hard enough)? Why do you eat bread and drink wine at the end? I did my best to explain it all as it was happening, but she wanted more. We continued talking for about another hour after the service. Still, she had more questions. Later that day she messaged me and told me she began reading the Bible and asked if we could talk more at school about what she's reading.

God is at work here in Japan, both among the Japanese people and the international community. One thing that I’m learning more every day here in Japan is that God keeps taking the initiative. Even when I stop and think about how brave this girl was to reach out to me in the midst of her fear, I have to remember that it’s God who has reached out to her first. He is the One seeking her. He is the One who relentlessly pursues people in love. And He’s calling His Church to be a faithful presence in the world to offer hope and healing to those in pain. Please pray for this girl, her sister, and her family as they seek to understand more about Christianity and our great Healer and Comforter.

Jeff Saunders is an MTW missionary serving in Tokyo, Japan.


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Pray for God to break through cultural barriers to draw Japanese men and women to Himself. And for God to call more missionaries to serve in Japan.

Pray for Japanese college students wrestling with new faith. Pray that they would have the courage to give their lives to Christ and not fear their family's reaction.

Give thanks and pray for a couple in Japan who recently came to faith as they faced the last days of the husband's life.

Pray for believers in Tokyo, Japan, to grow in their faith, and pray for their loved ones to come to know Christ.

Give thanks for the work God is doing in South Asia in the wake of COVID lockdown relief. Ask God to grow the new believers who came to faith in Christ as a result.

Pray for MTW Japan as they grow and expand, transitioning some churches to new leadership and planting in new areas. 

Pray for children in Japan who are attending Christian school and influencing their families for Jesus. 

Pray for the national pastors serving in Mexico and Cuba, many of whom are bi-vocational, and the work God is doing among them.

Pray for the U.S. church to send workers to Japan where less than 0.5% of people are Christians.

Pray that God would use our Japan teams to open the hearts of the Japanese to God’s presence and love for them.


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