My heart broke for Japan on a train in Tokyo. I was on an missions trip the summer of '05, and as I was looking around at the other passengers, I felt God open my heart. He revealed that beyond the technology, fancy clothing, and apparent wealth, Japan was a land that was longing for the Gospel. And that most likely my team and me were the only Christians on the train.
However, my initial reaction wasn't to embrace this feeling, rather it started an internal struggle between God and me. To be honest, at the time I really didn't like Japan. I thought it was hot, humid, smelly, small, and there wasn't enough food. I missed southern California with our sunny skies, perfect temperature, and free refills at McDonalds. It also didn't help that every missionary I was talking to mentioned that ministry in Japan required long-term commitment. But God's call is a gift and His way is grace.
One night while I was internally wrestling with God, our team went to a prayer chapel. I figured that since this was a house of God, I would tell him to give me clear direction or I would choose to reject a calling to Japan. So I said, "God, if you want me here long term, speak to my emotions!"Then I sat and waited for God to make something happen in my heart After 30 minutes nothing happened, so I said, "God, if you want me her long term, speak to my mind! Give me a vision or something like that!" I sat and waited for another 30 minutes and nothing came to my mind. Frustrated, but also maybe a little relieved that God hadn't said "Go", I said, "God! If you want me here long term, speak to me in an audible voice!" And as I waited I listened as hard as I could! Slowly a whisper began to emerge from the silence, and it got louder and louder. My heart began to beat really fast because I was hearing "God's voice", but then I realized it was just the man seated behind me whispering his prayers. At that point I just gave up and told God, if he wanted me to minister in Japan long term then that he had to confirm it before the end of the night.
Well later that night I had dinner with a group of friends. One of them told me that a missionary we both knew felt like God was calling me to missions in Japan for longer than 1 year. It was at that moment that God answered my prayer and confirmed my calling to Japan. I no longer had any reason to doubt, and I accepted the call to Japan.