Before Ben knew when or how he would begin a ministry in Japan, before he knew he would be married to Grace* and prepare to live their life overseas, he was aware and burdened by a number. Every 15 minutes, someone in Japan commits suicide.
The Japan Times and Japan Today both reported the same numbers in 2009. An editorial written in The Japan Times states, “This suicide rate, compiled by the National Police Agency, means that more than 30,000 suicides occur every year, a third of a million people in a decade … It is a clear indication of serious social and psychological problems that deserve immediate, sympathetic and effective solutions.”
The tragic reality that thousands of Japanese are left feeling without purpose or a will to live is paired with another statistic that sheds harsh light on a lack of response. According to The Joshua Project, 3.1 billion individuals are unreached by the Gospel. In Japan, there are 123 million unreached people - Four percent of the world’s unreached people are in Japan.
From a young age, this information developed in Ben a desire to share the Gospel with the Japanese and show them how much they are loved and valued by their savior.
He and Grace met while earning their bachelor’s degrees and the two connected over their love for people. As they continued dating, Grace realized her heart was being specifically softened and burdened for the people of Japan.
How would they get there? When would they know they would be ready? What could they do to help reach Japan’s lost?
“In Japan, you need to have education,” Ben said. “A Bachelors is basically a high school diploma.”
Their vision is to come alongside established churches and missionaries in the country and give them support they need. Eventually, they want to see a Japanese church planted and somehow incorporate a mental health and wellness program that promotes suicide awareness and prevention.
They want to bring psychologists, doctors and counselors into the work that needs to be done so they can see a generation of Japanese healed in a holistic way.
A halting weight they could not escape was their student loan debt from the degrees they need to be truly effective in Japan. By their estimation, it would take them eight years to pay off the debt that holds them from going.
One night, Ben stumbled across The GO Fund’s website. He thought, “there is no way this can be real.”
He and Grace did apply with The GO Fund’s student debt repayment program and were contacted one week after pushing the ‘send’ button. Program Director, Matt Sonke, greeted them over the phone and dispelled their doubts. Yes, the Lord is using a generous group of believers, Champions, to lift their barrier.
“It was further confirmation of our plans,” Ben said. “It solidified our calling in a way. We thought, ‘God wants us to go sooner than it would take to pay off our debt.’”
The couple is finally there and it's thanks to you, our Champions. Champions give their talent, time and treasure to The GO Fund and it allows this family to reach Japan, completely unhindered to love on a people who desperately need to know their own value.
*Names changed for security