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A Love for Japan: A Vocational Missionary Story

Anna McLendon served in Japan for a couple of years as an intern with MTW. She is now returning as a vocational missionary with the 18.26 Network. She will work with Community Arts Tokyo, a ministry of the MTW Tokyo team, led by Roger and Abi Lowther. The 18.26 Network recently interviewed her about her work and ministry. 


Q. Tell us about your interest in Japan and why you want to minister there vocationally.

I've felt a connection to Japanese culture since high school—the language, the mannerisms, the way of life just made sense to me. Not everything, of course—it's still a different culture. But enough of it resonated with me that I felt like these were my people, or they could be. I long to see Japan impacted by Jesus in the same ways I have been.

As for why I want to go vocationally, specifically, there are a lot of reasons. Most generally, vocational missions is a biblical model that seems under-represented and under-supported in the current missions landscape, at least in America. It seems to be a powerful tool that we're letting rust. But I also think vocational missions is a spectacular fit for Japan. For one, Japanese daily life is completely dominated by work, and having a more "normal" vocation makes you seem less alien to the population. You get to bypass the "Oh, you're missionary," effect. For another, Japan is an expensive place and the amount of support missionaries need can be a huge obstacle. Those going vocationally can get to the field faster and have more flexibility once they get there.

Q. What will be your work and how will it help the current ministry in Tokyo?

My work will be freelance web design. I anticipate that it will split into two different fronts—websites I do "for business" and websites I do for ministry, especially those in Japan. Different ministries and individuals always need websites and they generally can't spare the time or the money for the web design process. As a freelancer, I'd be able to offer deep discounts and more flexible timelines to those in full-time ministry.

Q. What do you think will be the most difficult cross-cultural challenge you will face living/working in Japan?

Meeting people is difficult in Japan. I'll be stationed in downtown Tokyo, the largest city in the world. To begin with, I'm not the most outgoing person. But I would very much like to get to know people in my neighborhood, at coffee shops, in the park. It's going to be hard for me to be brave and forge relationships, but I want to try!

Q. What do you think your most rewarding experience will be living/working in Japan?

I love slow-build relationships, moving from acquaintanceship to deep trust. I'm most looking forward to expanding the number of people I consider "family." Also—and this is sort of intertwined—I want to show people a different way of living. A way of beauty without the bitter aftertaste. I know there are so many who avoid thinking about things because it only depresses them, because they don't have any answers. I think in Jesus they can find some answers they haven't heard before.

Learn more about the 18.26 Network and how you can serve vocationally.

18.26 Network, Tokyo Japan Oct 24, 2019
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Pray for God to break through cultural barriers to draw Japanese men and women to Himself. And for God to call more missionaries to serve in Japan.

Pray for Japanese college students wrestling with new faith. Pray that they would have the courage to give their lives to Christ and not fear their family's reaction.

Pray for MTW Japan as they grow and expand, transitioning some churches to new leadership and planting in new areas. 

Pray for children in Japan who are attending Christian school and influencing their families for Jesus. 

Pray for the U.S. church to send workers to Japan where less than 0.5% of people are Christians.

Pray that God would use our Japan teams to open the hearts of the Japanese to God’s presence and love for them.

Pray for Tim Mills (Thailand), Abi Lowther & Roger Lowther (Japan), Joe Congdon (Japan), and Shannon Hinkle (Australia) as they all use their artistic gifts to support the Church in gospel outreach, mercy ministry, and community building.

Pray for the Japanese to realize that money, health, education, and material possessions do not satisfy the human heart.

Pray for those who are coming to faith in Japan. Pray that they would find their identity in Christ and grow strong in Him. 

Pray today for those serving in the arts. Pray that God would use their unique gifts and talents to build His kingdom!

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