Through the Eyes of Street Children

eyesBy Jane Landaw, serving in Japan

When Hikaru Watanabe started attending Shibuya (Alliance) Gospel Church in Japan as a fourth grader, God began a work in the boy’s heart that would draw him into short-term missions as a young man—a ministry that would lead 2,000 people in the Philippines to receive Christ as Savior. 

The downtown Tokyo church, started by Samuel and Young Kim, has a passion to train up its youth to always listen for the call of God on their lives and ministries. Since the church’s inception more than 25 years ago, scores of young people have answered that call, becoming pastors or entering other full-time ministries. 

When the pastoral baton was passed on to David Kim and his wife, Deborah, a number of years ago, the church felt burdened to begin sending out short-term ministry teams. For the past four years, Hikaru—now a university student and a gifted guitarist who leads worship at Shibuya Church—has traveled to the Philippines with the church’s short-term team to work with street children.

Hikaru was drawn to short-term missions through the influence of his pastor. “He knew I could play the guitar and that God could use that ability in the Philippines,” says Hikaru.

A Heavenly Home and Family

From that first short-term experience four years ago, a beautiful story of God’s grace began to unfold. In the first three years, Hikaru’s heart was captured by the homeless children he encountered, also known as “street children.” It was Hikaru’s joy to help teach these little ones, who have no home or family, about the family of God and their heavenly Father who loves them.

Each year he participated in the trip, he says, “I thought I was going to the Philippines to change [the children], but instead, I began to see that God was using them to change me. 

“God showed me the pride I had in my heart that He wanted me to confess to Him, as I was changed by ministering to these street children. And in this past summer’s ministry as our team of 11 members worked on Samar Island, I wanted to again experience such grace from God just like before and do all I could to tell these ‘street children’ about Jesus and His love and grace for them, too.”

As Hikaru spent more time with the youngsters, he began “to see life through their eyes” and worked fervently to help them. He had never experienced their problems—discrimination, poverty, and having no family or place to call “home.” He had come to help them, but they also helped him to understand true love and the joy of being the hands and feet of Jesus.

As the team joined in an outreach ministry in a smaller town, Hikaru began to play his guitar. The group gathered the children together for a program, and God used the music to open their hearts.

Children from happy homes and no homes began to gather. News of the program traveled quickly, and soon there were so many children and teens that it was difficult to carry out the event as planned.

To Hikaru’s surprise, a troubled 15-year-old, Danny, who had been causing problems, offered to help Hikaru with the language barrier, since the teen spoke Tagalog and English. Believing that God had orchestrated this meeting, Hikaru began witnessing to Danny. 

As a result, Danny came to Christ and began telling those around him to also believe in Jesus, because God had just forgiven him and saved him. Hikaru kept in contact with Danny, and God protected him as he went with Danny to the neighborhood where he lives and spent time discipling him in his new faith.

2,000 Saved

Joining with another group of believers, Hikaru and the Shibuya team held more evangelistic programs. God moved in a mighty way and 2,000 people made decisions to accept Christ.  “Every year, the young generation is changing,” says Hikaru.  “We saw God use His Word through music and proclaiming the gospel to touch many lives, and we pray for future generations.”

As Hikaru returned to Japan and reflected on the highlights of the 2010 summer trip, he was moved deeply to see Christ’s love in action. Children received God’s forgiveness and new hope. Partnering teams in the Philippines also prayed for future generations in Japan. And, through the eyes of the street children, Hikaru saw a world that God loves and longs to redeem. 

Pray for follow-up of the many who came to Christ in the Philippines. And please pray for Hikaru as he continues his university studies and to serve God at Shibuya Church, seeking the Lord’s will for his life.   

Lear More

Check out Alliance work in Japan.

What You Can Do

Impact your world for Christ! Consider a short-term missions trip with The Alliance.

When you give to you the Great Commission Fund, you partner with Alliance field workers, like Jane Landaw, in sharing the hope of Jesus with lost people young and old.


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