Japan – More than we Imagined

 The Navigators –

In Matthew 14 and 15, Jesus encourages His disciples to bring the little they have so that He might feed the crowds of 4,000 and 5,000 people. As Jesus receives their meager offering He thanks God for it, blesses it, and multiplies it to meet the insurmountable needs.

As we arrived in Japan in late May and began relating with the students at Utsunomiya University (Udai for short) we felt like we had little to offer them. We wondered how we would overcome the language and cultural barriers to meet their extreme spiritual needs. But our team of 6 continued to offer God our time, effort, love, and knowledge of Him; trusting that He could bless and use us to do more than we imagined … and He did.

Naoki is a freshman who joined the Navigators’ BEST club at Udai in April. He joined partially out of a curiosity about the Bible, but when I asked him about God he made it very clear that, like most Japanese, he did not believe in God. As our friendship developed I began praying for different ways to tell Naoki about God and all that He wants to offer him. Then one day Naoki invited me to the onsen, the Japanese public baths. We learned that the onsen was often a relaxing place for the Japanese where they let down their guard and have more vulnerable conversation. While sitting together in a hot tub with water constantly flowing through it, I told Naoki about the spring of living water that Jesus places inside of us and how He never leaves us thirsty. Later during our time, we stepped into a blazing hot sauna. As the sweat poured out of us I told.

Naoki about God’s desire to purify us spiritually and how sometimes He places us in the heat of trials to draw out impurities in our lives. It was amazing to see how he listened intently and began asking questions to make sure he understood what I was telling him about God. Since returning to Florida, Naoki and I have continued to communicate through email and the door is still open for spiritual input into his life as his interest in God is growing.


  1. Hello, Thoma’s A. DiMattia, Navigator in Wichita, Ks., under the guidance of Joe Stout.

    I am keenly interested in the Japanese and, if God wills that I visit there, I would like to visit Naoki.

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