Missionary Diary: A tsunami of prayer in Japan

Marty Wood and his wife Jenny are “missionaries” with Fusion, currently serving in Japan. 

Somehow I’ve never fitted any stereotype of a missionary. Calling for me and for my wife, Jenny, seemed different to a “traditional” missionary understanding. Leaving Australia 18 years ago, we have worked or lived in six nations, helping the church in that country prepare for either the Olympics or the Soccer World Cup.

While hopefully not appearing self-indulgent, I’d like to reflect for a moment on my call to mission. It began with the life verse God gave me in the 1970s: “Seek first the kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).

When I joined Fusion as part of our commissioning, I made a commitment from the vows of a Benedictine novice. “You are called to follow Christ closely …With him, you will give everything that the kingdom may come. On this road, you are called to be least of all and not master … to give freedom instead of taking it. Take the cross upon yourself, thus bringing joy to others, to die in order that others may live. Don’t hesitate to go anywhere he leads you. Don’t stay where you are, don’t look back.”

We both were and are willing to go and live anywhere for the kingdom.

Once on a Celtic pilgrimage at Lindisfarne in the UK, I met Andy, who lived and loved the Lindisfarne community. He wrote of its founder, Aidan, “He was not about territory, parishes or boundaries. Instead, he quietly but insistently brought the kingdom of God tangibly closer. He has absorbed God’s word into his being and let them breathe through him. He stopped to talk, genuinely caring about everyone he met. He would have said, ‘The love of Christ burns inside me and impels me on the road.’”

There was a moment in a sports conference in Greece prior to the Olympics in 2004, when God spoke to me and said my job was to work with the nations. Even now I often “tear up” on reading Psalm 2:8, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” (RSV)

I am thankful for this clear call. It’s become my North Star. I am extra thankful that I married a lady 25 years ago who shared that same call and was willing to go on a crazy adventure together. Recently God spoke and told me that Jenny and I had “beautiful feet!” (Romans 10:15). We both were and are willing to go and live anywhere for the kingdom.

Living out the call

In Japan for the last three years, the call, the dream, was to run community festivals – 500 in fact, seeking to reach out to one million people over the Olympics and Paralympics.

We committed, but COVID closed down all our best efforts. With every mission door shut, the door to prayer swung wide open. A nudge from God turned into a tsunami of prayer. Rather than reaching one million people, we invited the world to pray one million hours of prayer for Japan.

Over this (northern hemisphere) summer, God called the whole globe to pray for Japan. I would start with 6am prayer online, then, with my dog by my side, I’d head off to a nearby bamboo forest and cry out to the Father for the redemption of Japan. I learned afresh that prayer is the most effective, strategic and central thing to do.

From Japanese Christians, there was a profound and deep thankfulness to the tens of thousands who committed to prayer from around the world.

Over the Olympic and Paralympic Games, prayer momentum continued to build. Young Japanese Christians joined in and organised their own prayer night. It was remarkable and life-changing for those involved.

During the closing ceremony of the Paralympics, we ran a global celebration and prayer night. There we spoke of 365,000 hours of signed-up prayers from over 112,000 individuals and groups from 98 countries. We believe there were well over a million hours of  “unsigned-up” prayer. Numbers, however, are just a part of what God has been up to. How do you count what God has done? What matters is people were praying believing prayers over Japan. From Japanese Christians, there was a profound and deep thankfulness to the tens of thousands who committed to prayer from around the world.

What’s next?

Now, this intense season of prayer is over, we are convinced this prayer mobilisation is just beginning. Eight years ago, a Japanese pastor was given a vision of 10 million Japanese believers by 2024. Currently, there are less than one million.

I am part of this pastor’s church. He’s become my friend. I believe in this vision. Yet I echo the cry of a father desperate for Jesus to heal his son, “I believe, help the part of me that doesn’t believe.”

Among many believers across Japan and around the world, a growing assurance is rising – God will change this land. This is Japan’s moment. Now, with God’s help, the ongoing one million hours of prayer moves us towards 10 million new believers.

We ask the Father for momentum and acceleration. Paul prays, “The master’s word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response.” (2 Thess. 3:1)

We pray for supernatural breakthroughs and a multiplying of praying networks and praying communities across Japan. One of those in our team, a Japanese worship pastor, captured in a song his heart’s cry: “Christians, arise, even if it means to lay down your life in order to see the glory of the Lord manifested in the land. Revival of Japan here and now, please! We love this country; we give ourselves to this country. We hold onto the Japanese (Samurai) Spirit.”

I resonate with these words. I’m currently mentoring 12 Japanese guys, helping empower them to live and do what this song says. One of them, Koji, said during a mentoring time, “I am willing to die for Japan.” He’s now coordinating a youth prayer initiative across Japan. Along with other men, we run “warrior weekends” – we wash the boy out as we welcome the man.

A Japanese missionary magazine features Marty (right) in a Warrior weekend 'washing'.

A Japanese missionary magazine features Marty (right) in a Warrior weekend ‘washing’.

I will soon complete a book on mentoring that will be translated into Japanese. I will be training people in mentoring as we travel around Japan next year. Meanwhile, my wife Jenny feeds and welcomes many of these guys into our home. We are a team. I am thankful for our rich kingdom life. We are committed to working alongside the Japanese Church to see God move, to be part of revival in Japan – together for 10 million believers.

You can read more about how Marty and Jenny have lived out their calling in an earlier Eternity article.