Earlier today, I read this quote from BBC, citing a recent survey: “Nearly 80% of Japanese youth felt depressed in the week of the survey. One third of them don’t think they’ll be happy when they are 40.” (Click Here to read more). The article asks if education reform is the cure for Japan’s depression epidemic. It seems to commend studying abroad as a part of the solution.
Recently, I had coffee with a Japanese foreign exchange student. He would undoubtedly fit into the categories that the article mentions–depressed in the present and hopeless about the future. Although he doesn’t consider himself a Christian and doesn’t feel ready to put his faith in Christ, he is very interested in studying the Bible. It seems clear to me that he is looking for something tangible to hope in–studying abroad hasn’t given him what he set out to find.
As we drank coffee together, I did my best to share the core of the Christian faith with him:
From Adam onward, the world has been in rebellion against God. What would God do? Would He condemn the world–and us with it? What other option did He have? I read John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Faced with the choice of condemning the world or rescuing it, God chose rescue. Jesus came in the flesh. He served. He suffered. He died. This really happened. Jesus actually came and died, in history. On the cross, he took the condemnation that we earned with our rebellion. Then, amazingly, He came back. Death learned that day that it has no power over God and thus no power over God’s people. Happy Easter! Those who believe have eternal life. Those who trust in Christ have hope that lasts forever. Between now and eternity, a Christian should expect God’s absolute goodness in all things, without exception.
This is a message that many of us know well, hear often, take for granted most of the time. But, my Japanese friend, was apparently hearing it for the first time. This was his response: “This is exactly what Japan needs.” He went on: “We don’t know what it is like to be loved like that.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is awesome in power. It can break the chains of depression. It did for me. It can provide hope for the future, to age 40 and then to eternity. I am happy that Japan is pursuing educational reform. I hear that it is needed. I will be happier when a multitude of Japanese people gladly put their faith in Christ. We desire to go to Japan with a message of indestructible joy. We have started this blog as a way of inviting you, our family and friends, into this with us.
For the Joy of Japan,
Jamison (for Kathryne, Ezra and Violet)