Remember Japan Update

Greetings.   Ben Cheek and myself returned from our Global Leadership Team in Northern Japan last week.  Now, fully recovered from jet lag, I will be posting a series of blog posts on our excellent time in Japan -meeting leaders and preparing the ground for several Global Leadership Teams that will journey to Northern Japan this summer to participate in Remember Japan 2012 .  We already have a team joining us from Biola University.  Click on the link below and pray about whether God is calling you to join Global Leadership Dynamics in a collaborative effort to Revive, Restore and Rebuild Japan in partnership with Crash Japan and Jesus Net Japan.

 

Revival in Northern Japan

Prayer counselors minister to Japanese guests following the Franklin Graham Celebration of Hope on Friday evening, March 2, 2012 in Sendai, Japan.

Greetings.  On Friday afternoon, March 2nd, our Global Leadership Team, traveling on a press tour hosted by Crash Japan, arrived at the Franklin Graham Celebration of Hope held from March 2-4 at a large arena in the suburbs of Sendai, the regional capital of Miyagi prefecture where the epicenter of the devastating 9.0 quake was located last year on 311.   We joined 200 Japanese young people, volunteering as ushers for the weekend crusade in Sendai.  We were given yellow t-shirts and instructions on how to welcome the 18 busloads of disaster survivors coming in from areas throughout Northern Japan for the weekend crusade event.   The evening then kicked off with musical performances by Kirk Franklin and local artists followed by a powerful sermon delivered by Franklin Graham on the pollution of sin and our only real hope in Jesus Christ.  Although the arena was not completely filled on Friday night  due to a snow storm, 82 individuals did come forward and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior on this first evening of the crusade.  According to a news release from the BGEA, over the course of the weekend, nearly 12,000 people attended this Celebration of Hope in Sendai and 300 gave their lives to Jesus Christ.   Franklin Graham in Sendai

The following Saturday morning, Ben Cheek and I were invited by my good friend Andy Game, the Executive Director of Jesus Net Japan, which is now in formal partnership with the BGEA, to a private worship gathering with Franklin Graham and his crusade team.  We took the elevator to the 25th Floor of the Westin Hotel to join the morning worship, Bible study and prayer session in preparation for the evening crusade.  The room was crowded with BGEA staff from Japan and several countries in Asia as well as Japanese leaders.   Franklin walked into the room and the meeting quickly kicked off with a rousing performance by US-based musician Dennis Agajanian, wearing a 10 gallon cowboy hat, of “Victory Is Mine” leading into “Power in the Blood.”  For a moment, it seemed we had all been transported back to the mountains of North Carolina as the room exploded into a Southern gospel jam.   Then, Dr. Ross Rhoads, the chaplain for the BGEA, offered a power teaching on the Biblical understanding of suffering and how God is now working through the horror of the 311 disaster to bring many in Japan into relationship with Jesus Christ.  Following this teaching, Franklin then encouraged the room to break into small groups for prayer.  Franklin emphasized that we were there that morning to worship, hear the Word of God and pray to the only One who can change lives at the crusade meeting later in the evening. Soon, murmurs of prayer filled the room as some knelt on their chairs, crying out to God for souls in Northern Japan.

Franklin Graham leads the pre-crusade prayer gathering on Saturday, March 3, 2012 in Sendai, Japan.

As we prayed is this conference room, looking out over the urban complex of Sendai, I could actually see streams of Heaven coming through the clouds as the Holy Spirit began to call people from different walks of life to the evening crusade.  In my prayers, I could see a young woman sitting at her cubicle in her office space, a young man standing in front of a mirror as he shaved, and a school boy walking through the streets of Sendai in his school uniform.  As the atmosphere in the room was transformed by the activity of prayer, I sensed without a doubt the Holy Spirit was already at work drawing individuals throughout the city to the evening crusade and preparing their hearts to hear the Gospel.

In the afternoon, we traveled by cab to the “Super Arena” outside of Sendai and helped Andy set up a booth for Jesus Net Japan which is a new online ministry that shares the Gospel with Japanese through a network of websites and trained ecoaches who follow-up with those who have come to faith on the internet.

Jesus Net Japan is part of a family of 22 language sites based in Europe called Jesus.net  At the crusade meetings, a series of videos were shown that Jesus Net Japan has made of testimonies from quake survivors who have found hope in Jesus through the disaster itself.  You can see some of these videos at www.jesusnetjapan.org, the recently launched US-based website for folks in North American interested in following and supporting Jesus Net Japan.  At the crusade, these hope stories of 311 survivors were shown on the big screens and literature about Jesus Net Japan was distributed to guests for online follow-up after the crusade.   Jesus Net Japan is now in official partnership with the BGEA as Franklin prepares for four more crusades in Japan in 2013.

The Saturday evening program kicked off with several musical performances including Dennis Agajanian, several Japanese performers including a group of taiko drummers, and finally Christian pop star Kirk Franklin who led the crowd in several numbers including “We are the world.”  Hundreds of young people mobbed the front stage area and at one point Kirk Franklin ran through the crowd encouraging them to clap their hands high and in praise of Jesus.  Following his performance, a local Japanese pastor prayed for the evening and then invited Franklin to the podium who preached on the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  Franklin came to the point quickly with a direct message about how many of those gathered in the arena that night had committed sexual sins including abortion and that Jesus Christ was the only hope for the pollution of sin.  He shared about his own rebellion as a youth and gave several examples of those who had found new life in Jesus Christ.   He closed his message with an invitation to the many gathered to come forward to join him a prayer of salvation.  Hundreds came forward and the evening event ended with new lives won for Christ in Northern Japan.

Ben Cheek, Christian Zebley and Andy Game at the pre-crusade gathering for the Franklin Graham Celebration of Hope in Sendai, Japan, March 2-4, 2012.

Having served as a missionary in Japan for nine years with the Presbyterian Church, it was thrilling to be part of one of the largest evangelistic gatherings in Japan and to see up close the collaborative efforts of the BGEA in partnership with hundreds of local churches in Northern Japan as well as larger ministries like Jesus Net Japan.  Historically, the northern region of Japan known as Tohoku, has had one of the lowest numbers of churches and Christians in the entire nation.  In the wake of the horrible tragedy of 311, God is moving in many ways, including large-scale efforts like Franklin Graham’s Celebration of Hope, to plant seeds of new life in Christ in the hearts of Japanese as well as helping to rebuild their homes and communities through organizations like CRASH Japan and Samaritan’s Purse.

If you are interested in joining a Global Leadership Team this summer to work in Northern Japan with GLD go to www.globalleadershipdynamics.org/japan   

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