This Man Feels Called to Evangelize Japan
Andy Game shares how God confirmed his calling to Japan, and details 7Media’s plans to reach the Next Generation with the stories of the Gospel.
Andy Game is the creator of the website 7media.org. He has been a pioneering missionary to Japan for almost 30 years. In part one of our interview, he explained the power of storytelling in conveying Gospel truth.
2020 is a key year for Japan, with the Summer Olympics coming to Tokyo in July. This is a real opportunity to reach the next generation of Japanese people with the Gospel.
How long have you been in Japan? How did God call you there?
Next year will be my 30th in Japan. Having grown up as a missionary kid in Bangladesh, I had a passion for missions from a young age.
I studied business and economics in university. A lot of people I trusted had given me advice that it would be good if I had business experience under my belt before going into full-time mission work, so that was my plan.
But I had in my heart it would be good to go on a mission trip before I went into business, and God spoke to me it would be good for me to visit Japan. I said, “God, if I’m supposed to go it’s got to be your divine provision. I need someone this week to give me 500 pounds as a clear sign I can do this.” I was a university student with only about 30 pounds in the bank – there was no way I could pay for the trip.
Three days later dear friends came to visit me and as they left, they handed me an envelope and said, “This is a love gift from Jesus, because you’re supposed to go.” They didn’t know what was in my heart, they didn’t know my prayer, and they didn’t know how much money I needed. Yet inside the envelope was a check for the exact amount of money I had asked for – 500 pounds! So I was excited – I was going to Japan!
God was giving me such clear guidance. Then, the weekend before I was leaving on this first trip, I was speaking in a church about the needs in Japan. I was sharing about how few Christians there were, and how the vast majority of people there didn’t know about Jesus.
“Welcoming people and loving them was such a big part of the ministry in the Japanese culture…The trust and relationships are so important, and we really invest into those.”
After the sharing, someone came up to me and started asking all these questions about the trip. I didn’t know all the answers but told him what I could. Then to my shock, the person told me this, “As I was driving tonight, the Holy Spirit guided me to come into this church. He told me that someone here was going into missions, and I needed to come and support them.” He then asked me, “How do you spell your name?” He wrote a check to cover everything else we needed for the trip!
So I had these two very clear signs from God, and went to Japan for the summer mission with Youth With A Mission.
How was this first experience in Japan? Did you initially find it difficult to preach the Gospel there?
Every day that summer we were out on the street sharing the Gospel, and people would say, “This is so good, how come I’ve never heard this before? This is almost too good to be true!”
That was my first experience of Japan. It wasn’t hard; people weren’t rejecting us and saying they didn’t want to know the Gospel.
I’ve always found hungry hearts when ministering in Japan, especially among young people, so I’ve just loved making friends with people and sharing Jesus with them. And as we shared about Jesus on this first trip, we saw the community come together and new churches formed. We had people come to Christ and be baptized. It was unusual success and I was excited for what would happen in the future.
I thought I would go back to England and get involved in business after this first trip, but actually God’s plan was for me to go back to Japan. Since then, I’ve spent most of my life setting up kingdom businesses to set up work with Japan. Through my work with Alpha and 7media, we have set up companies in a professional way that really build the Kingdom.
It’s fascinating that you had such favor right away in ministering in Japan. Normally when we hear about missions there we hear about how difficult it is.
I’ve had people say that, “Extraordinary favor has been upon you.” I became the National Director of Alpha in Japan, and within 5 years of running the course, we had worked with hundreds of churches and raised up thousands of leaders. Alpha was structured friendship evangelism and easy for seekers to understand.
“I really believe this is something on God’s heart, for the children to come to Him. It’s a very key window in the life of young people to bring the Gospel to them.”
A big part of that is belonging before believing. Welcoming people and loving them was such a big part of the ministry in the Japanese culture. I think that’s so true in all that we do in Japan. The trust and relationships are so important, and we really invest into those. Now the new ALPHA film series is in Japanese and we are anticipating new opportunities.
7Media aims to reach every level of society. What would you say has been the toughest sphere for you to reach?
In Japan we’ve started exploring what the 7 spheres can look like, and we’ve seen them as different stages, or even ages, of life. The one that really wasn’t initially on my radar but is now getting my full attention is the 4/14 Window. The term 4/14 Window is taken from the statistic that over 70% of people who accept Christ first do so between the age of 4 and 14. I would encourage all of you to look at 414movement.com to learn more.
I really believe this is something on God’s heart, for the children to come to Him. It’s a very key window in the life of young people to bring the Gospel to them.
7media’s video on the 4/14 Movement (with English subtitles)
The problem is that when you discuss this with people, they will say, “Yes, children’s ministry is important.” But then they give so little budget towards it, so little training goes into it. I believe passionately that if we’re going to raise the next generation it has to be our children. We have to invest in children.
In Japan, statistics show that half of the traditional churches will die out in the next decade, because they don’t have children or youth in their churches. It’s really something that we need to solve, so I think the 4/14 window is something in which we want to redouble our efforts.
So this age group is the greatest challenge, yet also the greatest opportunity.
Can you share your plans for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo? Why do you see the Olympics as such an opportunity?
We really see the Olympics coming to Japan as a catalyst. It is not only the biggest sports festival, but the biggest cultural festival in the world.
Sports is one of the most powerful languages in the world. A lot of the films we’ve made are about sports, in addition to arts and music. Sports communicates in a deep way to people, and helps them connect and places them in community.
We’re really excited to find the stories behind the Olympics, and get behind the scenes with some of the athletes, telling their stories. We want to help people see there’s more to life than sports, and that Jesus is the most important person in many of these Olympians’ lives.
So what will your outreach look like around the 2020 Olympics?
We’re going to be focusing on four things: film stories and testimonies, the explanation of the Gospel with THEFOUR.com, The Year of the Bible with new apps, and then invitations to festivals and special events. Let me explain each one of them.
First, the film stories will be about Christian athletes, like we mentioned earlier. We want to tell the stories of the Christian Olympians.
Check out 7media’s video on baseball star Matt Murton
We really want to focus on the five new action sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: baseball, karate, skateboarding, bouldering, and surfing. These sports have a built-in attraction being new to the Olympics. So we’re just trying to find stories of Christian athletes who are involved in these and look at how we can build multimedia campaigns. We’re working with global Christian sporting ministries to shore that up.
Second, we’re working on a project with Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade) to make videos based on The Four Spiritual Laws. These videos are showcased on THEFOUR.com. There are so many religions and cults in Japan, we want people to really understand what the Gospel is. The plan is to have THEFOUR available in 20 languages in Asia during 2020 and we are currently exploring anime films for these.
The third part is we’re talking to YouVersion and other organizations about versions of the Bible in different languages that we can make available to access and download. There are still people who have never heard of the Bible and have no concept of the Bible at all. So we really want to make sure the Bible is available to all, especially the next generation. We’re working with the World Evangelical organization to promote 2020 as The Global Year of the Bible.
The fourth thing we want to do is create an invitation through online connection to offline relationships. So we want to create a connection for people to come to festivals, music concerts, sports events with top athletes and all these types of things. There is always an invitation to “come and see” what the Gospel is. At Pentecost 2020 we will host SHINE JAPAN youth festival for the eighth consecutive year and join with millions of Christians around the world for Go2020.
So we’re putting all four of these things together in line with the 2020 Olympics and are believing it will be an awesome time!