"What is Your Next Step"

Written by Aya Kaneko

Six months ago, I left my friends and family and my school in San Diego to come to this country called Japan. I had all these reasons to come... stupid reasons and good reasons. A stupid one would be to drink green cream soda. (It really is green and yummy.) I also wanted to learn more about Japan, the country where my parents came from. But most of all, I somehow felt God calling me to go there. It wasn't like this great big voice appearing out of nowhere saying "Hey you down there, go to JAPAN!" But it was just as clear and just as vivid and I knew I couldn't refuse even if I wanted to.

That's what brought me here. To this land where most junior highers carry cell-phones and the toilets come equipped with remote controls. To this land where seemingly no one is poor and even with a bad economy, people always have money left to spare. To this land where everything you could want is available at your fingertips. And yet at the same time, it is one of the darkest countries I've ever visited. There is hardly any evidence of Jesus anywhere. Almost every week, someone commits suicide by jumping in front of the Chuo-sen, the train running from east to west in Tokyo.

When you have all that you could want--the family, the career, the money--and life is still hopeless, what do you have left to live for? So many people here live their lives methodically, going from step to step, and at the end realizing that these steps don't amount to anything. Realizing that there still is no meaning to life. That no matter how hard they worked and how hard they tried, they still don't have the answer. And that last step, they take off the platform where they go to work everyday. They plunge in front of the train and die without knowing that Jesus died for them. Without the hope of salvation...

When I came to Japan, I wanted to be out of the Christian bubble that surrounded me at UCSD. I loved having so many Christian friends, who supported me; but at the same time, I wanted to know for sure if I believed what I believed because of Jesus alone, not because I was following the crowd. One day I realized that everyone around me was a Christian and I would have to think quite hard to come up with someone to invite to fellowship that didn't already go there. And then I knew that I wasn't serving God, obeying the Great Commission, if I was surrounding myself with only Christian friends.

Here in Japan life is different. There are not hundreds of Christians on campus. There are no choices of fellowhsips. I go to a Christian college with one Christian fellowship with about thirty members. It is probably one of the largest gatherings for a college in Japan. And yet this is one of the ten largest countries in the world (all crammed into this monstrous city of Tokyo it seems.) When I get on the crowded train pushed against the side of the wall because it is so full with people I think... There are billions of people around me that are living without the hope of salvation. Without knowing...

Yesterday I was teaching english to junior highers at my part-time job. Because it is almost Christmas, I was explaining to them the Christmas story. I asked them if they knew who Jesus Christ was. They didn't even know His name. I told them that the star on the Christmas tree symbolized Jesus' birth and that that the candle symbolized that He was the light of the world. They had never even heard.

Why do we hide that light that glows inside of us? That light that is the hope of the world? If we as Christians don't cast our poles into the sea, how are we supposed to catch any fish? If we shelter ourselves in a bubble filled with only Christians, how are we serving God? I ask myself this as I struggle to stand strong in this country and remind myself on the train, that one of these people sitting next to me now, could be the one jumping on the tracks tommorow.

Again, what is your next step?

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Created December 28, 1999
A Lil' Ladybug Production