By Elliott Snuggs
As I write this I’m in Japan. As I landed at the Narita International Airport outside of Tokyo I saw a countdown clock that said there were 2020 days left until the start of the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020. My mind drifted back 30 years ago when I first came to Japan with Asian Access (then Life Ministries). Our training back then for the hundreds of summer workers who came on the “Scrum Dendo” program (many Evergreeners included) was held at the Olympic Center left over from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. That was a significant time for Japan and in a sense the world as they were the first Olympics where technology allowed for them to be broadcast using satellites. It was a window allowing the world to see Japan. One year later Asian Access was incorporated with a mission to see Japan know, love and serve Jesus Christ.
So, when I first heard that Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics, I was very pleased. Sure, it is good for Japan to get the summer Olympics for the first time since 1964. But it also coincides with a vision Asian Access has had for Japan. In 1986 the president of Asian Access heard God say we were to be a part of seeing 1,000 churches planted in Japan to reach a million new believers by the year 2020. What an audacious goal for a country where the spread of the gospel was tough. It seemed like an impossibility. And the progress toward it in the ensuing years, while steady, was not on a trajectory to reach that level.
Then came the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown) in 2011. As all of us in Asian Access in Japan sat under one roof during the earthquake, none of us knew it was going to be a tragedy of immense proportions. But out of the chaos, God prompted Christians around the world and throughout Japan to rally around the devastated Tohoku region. Today, single denominations are talking about 1000 new house churches, just in Tohoku. The trajectory has changed. Momentum is there. Evergreen SGV is heavily investing in Japan. Garrett Inoue and Sabrina Yee have recently come back from serving in Tohoku.
The Holy Spirit is on the move. What seemed impossible is now not so crazy. 2020 days from now, the world will party in Tokyo. Our hope is that 2020 days from now there will be an even bigger party in heaven as the angels rejoice around the throne over 1000+ new churches representing a million new believers in the nation of Japan. At Evergreen we can join the party as we participate in making a difference!