*Jason and Meredith Reynolds have been married for two years, are expecting their first child, and representing one of our newer Georgia Baptist churches, SOMA North Georgia in Cumming, as missionaries to Japan. One of their main objectives is to begin an English school in their church in Fuchu to bless their community. Their commitment to Christ and devotion to His cause are noteworthy.
When Jason was growing up he only went to church on Christmas and Easter. “I concluded that I could never be a Christian, because I could never be as perfect as the Christians I knew,” he said. “However, as a middle school and high school student I got involved in a different youth group and enjoyed their friendship, but never fully believed or trusted Jesus.
“I met a pastor when I was 19 years old and he started reading the Bible with me every week. I realized he loved me and began to understand that only Christ is perfect and that He died for me. I fell in love with Jesus and gave my life to Him.”
Meredith grew up going to church, but also believed that following Jesus meant she needed to be perfect. “In high school I was a runner and dreamed of going to college to run cross country and track,” she explained. “In my senior year of high school I got a scholarship, but shortly thereafter injured my Achilles, which prevented me from running my senior year.
“God took the idol of running away from me and a woman in my church began to disciple me. She taught me the Gospel is not about my works, but about what Jesus has done for me.
“My life began to change. I went to college, but decided not to run cross country because I felt like God wanted to use me in a bigger way for His glory.”
Disciples making disciples
Jason and Meredith met in high school and started dating before either one of them was truly following Christ. Jason was rebellious and Meredith was taking a legalistic approach to life.
Jason recalled, “We broke up many times the first couple of years, but once we started following Jesus, we saw how to love each other in a healthy way. We got married in 2015 and are expecting our first child in a few weeks.
“Our church, Soma North Georgia, is amazing. We have been with our church for over five years now. Our pastors are TJ Stewart and Andy Hall. We are one of the first couples our church has sent overseas.
“Soma’s vision is to see disciples making disciples, who, in turn, make disciples through daily encounters with Jesus. Our main hope with our home church is to help raise up more labors from the congregation and to love and serve our community.”
The couple began to have a heart for Japan about five years ago. It all began when Meredith took a college course on Perspectives, a class that highlighted the biblical basis for missions and God’s heart for the nations.
Building roots in Japan
Jason commented, “We were extremely brokenhearted to know there are millions of people who live and die without ever hearing the Gospel. God began to lay on our hearts a burden for the unreached people groups of this world.
“We sat down one evening and prayed over different unreached people groups, seeking one that stood out to us. Neither of us had ever been to an unreached nation, so we started fresh in searching for a place to potentially spend the rest of our days.
“When we started praying over Japan, we were stunned, because it made no sense that a first world country with open borders had hardly any Christians. As of right now, the country of Japan has less than one percent evangelical Christians.
“Over the past five years we have fallen in love with Japan, Japanese people, Japanese food, Japanese culture, and the mighty work of Jesus in Tokyo.
“Our church in Tokyo is called Soma Fuchu and has around 25 members. We met the church in Fuchu in 2015 when we went to Japan on our honeymoon.
“Our pastor’s names are Yoshito Noguchi and Steve Sakanashi. In August 2106 God gifted us with an opportunity to work at a secular kindergarten in Tokyo teaching English, but our pastors saw our hearts for the people of Japan and they wanted us to join them full-time in Tokyo serving the church as missionaries.
“The leader of the International Mission Board in Tokyo and another IMB missionary family serve at our church in Fuchu. They also partner with our church in ministry, teaching English and facilitating community events.”
Strong and continuing relationships
Jason and Meredith have discovered that the Japanese people are open to developing meaningful relationships. “We were able to seek out people of peace and share the Gospel and Jesus by bring them into our daily lives and showing them what it looks like to serve Jesus and love God in Japan,” Jason explained.
In fact, the couple is in Georgia at the present time with plans to return to their mission field next year. They have already had their next-door neighbors from Japan come to Georgia to visit with them for ten days.
Jason added, “It made me glad to see that the relationships we started last year are strong and continuing. We can’t wait to get back so we can continue to share the love of Jesus with our friends and make even more connections with new people in Tokyo.
“The two main religions in Japan,” Jason exclaimed, “are Buddhism and Shintoism. I would say that most people in Japan are atheists who don’t believe in any god at all. They continue to go to Buddhist and Shinto shrines because it is a tradition passed on by their ancestors.
“When it comes to the Gospel, most people we have met have either never heard the true Gospel or have barriers to pursuing Jesus. Due to close family ties, most of the people with whom we have shared Christ have told us that they are afraid to follow Jesus because their family would not accept them as a Christian.
Dangerous to be different
“In Japan, it is taboo to be different. Japanese people are taught from a young age that they should never stand out or be different. The Japanese believe that if everyone in the country is of the same mind, they will always be in harmony. Some Japanese people see following Jesus as something that would break them from their culture.
“Thankfully, we have seen people come to know Jesus. Sometimes it takes years to show them that God is more important than a tradition. Through scripture and discipleship, we get to teach them Jesus isn’t just a Western God. He is the God of all people. Pray for the hard hearts in Japan to be softened by the Holy Spirit.”
*Jason and Meredith have asked they their real names be withheld for security reasons.