The Glory of God’s Plan B (Part 1): Seeking a Safe Place in Japan

In August I was enjoying a visit with John Piper (@johnpiper) at the Desiring God offices in Minnesota. It was a chance to get counsel from him about some things that the Lord had been teaching me and to update him on the drama of our then 9-month-long journey to purchase a new ministry campus for CBI Japan.

Before we prayed together he said to me something that I won't soon forget:   

God cares more about how you react if you lose the property than about the property itself.

We had suffered some ups and downs over the past year. The whole journey began with a vision that the Lord gave us about 5 years ago to be in the heart of the city of Nagoya. That vision flowed from a desire to have a strategic location for Christ Bible Seminary which is currently located one hour from Nagoya station. It also flowed from a conviction that the Lord gave us to establish a "safe space" in the heart of the city.

Japan is one of the safest nations in the world, but at the same time it is not safe. It is one of the least likely places in the world to be stabbed or shot, but it is also one of the more likely places to be emotionally bullied, sexually molested or spiritually swindled.

Seventy percent of children in Japan are being bullied or are bullying others. Possession of child pornography is legal in Japan. As many as nine percent of high school girls report having engaged in a form of teenage prostitution known as enjo kosai. There are one million young men in Japan who have withdrawn from society, a phenomenon known as hikikomori. There are more than 180,000 cult groups registered with the government.

Japan, whether in its schools, homes, or cities, is not a safe place for many young people. It is not safe sexually, relationally, emotionally, or spiritually.

So after four years of prayer for what seemed humanly impossible—purchasing a downtown ministry campus in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world—the Lord brought an amazing opportunity to our attention.

It was an 8,500 square-foot building just three stops away from Nagoya station. The value during the real estate bubble (which burst in 1991) was about $8 million. The sale price was $1.3 million.

Despite the huge discount, the prospects of a young and relatively small ministry like ours raising the needed funds seemed slim. But God continued to advance his purposes for the cause of the gospel in Japan.