While summertime means a trip to the beach for most people, sophomore nursing major Dan Black traveled across the ocean not once, but twice, visiting two very different countries.
“God used me to plant seeds this summer, and he will make the seeds grow in his bigger plan. We have to continue to be faithful, and God will bring in the harvest,” he said.
Black spread the Gospel to countries overseas this summer. He traveled to Spain with One Voice and to Japan on a mission trip.
Black and other One Voice members departed on May 12 for Spain, just as the school year ended. After the flight landed, they met with missionaries from the International Mission Board who set up concerts where the group could perform.
“We sang almost every night, and during the day, we sang in schools and universities,” Black said.
The purpose of the concerts was to spread the Gospel through music.
“We could proclaim Christ in that way,” he said.
One Voice mixed Christian and secular music to attract crowds to the concerts. The concerts were an opportunity for the IMB missionaries to meet Spaniards and build connections with them.
“The people were really responsive. You could feel God in the room while we were singing,” Black said.
After traveling to the Canary Islands, to Portugal and back to Spain again, Black and the other One Voice members arrived home May 24.
Only a few days later, Black found himself on a plane again. This time, he was bound for Japan.
He went as a missionary to Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan, through Go Now Missions. Most of his ministry was done in the busy train stations of Shibuya, which are always packed with large crowds because trains are the main form of transportation in Japan.
“After Missions Emphasis Week on campus, I wanted to find a mission for the summer,” Black said.
Go Now is a group that sends students from different universities all over the world to spread the Gospel. Black and 30 others chose to go to Japan.
“Japan really caught my eye. It was interesting how much I could relate to the Japanese people,” he said.
Most Japanese are materialistic, according to Black. Their goal in life is to make as much money as possible.
“The testimony I gave most to the Japanese people was that I find joy, fulfillment and purpose outside of material things and in Christ alone,” Black said.
It’s safe to be a Christian in Japan, but it does go against the history and culture of the people.
“There are about 34 million people in Tokyo. Less than half of one percent of those people are Christians,” Black said.
Black and the other missionaries had three main forms of ministry while in Japan: prayer, distribution and street evangelism.
The first goal of the trip was prayer. Black and others would do what is called “prayer-walking,” that is, they would pray aloud or silently while walking among masses of people.
The second way they ministered was by distributing materials to read. They did not force them on anyone but presented them as gifts, free of charge. Black and others handed these out near the busy train stations. They bridged the culture gap by bringing information about Jesus to the people in their own language. They handed out hope tracks, which were a broad overview of the Bible from creation to the cross.
“Some people might just take it and throw it away, but even if they did, I just prayed, ‘God, at least let the garbage man pick it up,’” Black said.
Besides the hope tracks, they also distributed the “Manga Messiah,” a full-color comic book version of the Bible in Japanese anime form, and the Gospel of John, entirely in Japanese.
The third way Black and others spread their faith to people was through street evangelism. They held signs that said “Free 5-minute English” outside the bustling train stations. Many Japanese people jump at the opportunity to practice their English, so Black would just talk with them and see where the conversation led.
“We’d ask them what their favorite book was, and when some would say ‘Harry Potter,’ we’d say, ‘That’s cool, but I like to read the Seisho’ (Japanese word for Bible),” he said.
Victoria Pittman, a freshman interdisciplinary studies major, also traveled to Japan with Black.
“Dan’s a really cool, funny guy, and he’s really passionate about missions,” Pittman said.
Black and the group returned to the United States on Aug. 6, not long before school would start again.
Black loved his time spent in Japan and would readily go back. The quality, not the quantity, of believers he found there gave him hope for the country’s future.
“It’s encouraging to see that every Japanese person who is saved or genuinely believes Christ is their savior is doing something.”