Our team was tired from a day of ministry and we were stepping onto our final train that would take us to the train station by our base – almost home!
We crowded into the train and waited for the doors to shut as more people filed in, but the doors stayed open and the train didn’t move. We were confused about the delay, but patiently waited. Soon after, a young man in a wheelchair was pushed into our train car by a nurse and parked right next to us. Anna Joseph, one of our team members who speaks Japanese, heard him muttering to his nurse, “I’m so embarrassed about being in this wheelchair and people having to make room for me.”
Anna leaned over to Jordan Weaver and told him what the young man had said. Our hearts broke for the young man, and Jordan began to engage him in conversation with Anna translating. We found out that he had recently become paralyzed from a construction accident and did not know what future lay ahead of him. Jordan asked if he could pray for the young man, and our team surrounded him as we prayed.
Afterwards, the young man asked who we were and why a group of Americans were on this train. Jordan explained that we were Christians who had come to tell people about Jesus Christ. The young man looked confused – he had never heard of Christians or Jesus.
Suddenly we heard an announcement in Japanese through the train car speakers. With the help of Anna and another lady standing near us, we found out that there had been a “human accident” on the tracks ahead. Most likely, this meant that someone had committed suicide. We were grieved that a tragic event like this was so commonplace for the Japanese and so easily brushed aside as if it were any other ordinary occurrence.
The train finally started to move and we realized what little time we had left with this young man in the wheelchair. We had three stops before we had to get off of the train, and Jordan, joined by Jim Clark, worked together with Anna to share the gospel with the young man. They explained who Jesus was, what he did, and the gift that he extends to us – freedom from sin and death! The young man seemed hesitant, yet still curious, and as the train doors opened at our station, we begged that he would consider these words and get his hands on a Christian Bible. We got off the train and the doors closed behind us.
Our team prayed that this young man would someday receive Jesus, that the soil of his heart would be churned and softened by the Lord. We marveled that even in the face of death, God brings opportunities for new life. God used this experience powerfully in our team, especially on our debrief day as our hearts were broken for the lost in Japan, for the millions that have never heard. In the midst of grief and sorrow we experienced God’s love and heart for Japan, his desire to reach the lost, and were reinvigorated in the urgency of the Great Commission and proclaiming the name of Christ!