I love going to the movies. Any silly flick can be made an enjoyable experience simply by the addition of a vat of buttery popcorn and the assurance that no one is allowed to talk for a while. My favorite movie experience, though, is one that leaves me thinking long after I’ve left the theater. This week, I got to see one such film!

The movie was Dune: Part Two. Based on the 1965 sci-fi novel, the story of Dune covers themes of cultural conflict, political power-mongering, and religious manipulation. The main character, Paul, plays a central role in the conflict — not by his own choice but as a pawn of others. Secretive powers have invented a false religion, and they portray Paul as its messiah, proclaiming that something supernatural is at work when, in fact, it’s only the product of human scheming. It’s an intense, overwhelming story at times; suffice it to say that the author takes a somewhat cynical view of religion.

Surprisingly, this futuristic fiction raised significant questions about my own role as a preparing missionary and church-planter.

In just a few weeks, I’ll move to Japan with Mustard Seed Network to help spread the good news of Jesus to people who have never heard about Him. The Lord began directing my heart towards Japan during my time at Ozark Christian College, and after serving a church in Louisville, Kentucky for three years, a door finally opened for me to go! I’m so excited to join the work already happening there. Historically, Japan has never had more than 2% of the population profess orthodox Christianity; however, as more gospel-preaching churches are planted, the number of believers is growing exponentially! What’s more, new believers are welcomed into a community based on the love of Jesus and discipled together towards maturity in the faith.

With 99% of Japan’s population being officially “unreached” — people who don’t even know the name “Jesus,” much less the good news of the kingdom of God — it shouldn’t be surprising that some people will be cynical toward foreign missionaries in the same way that Dune is. The question I needed to answer this week is simple, but vitally important: What makes the message of hope I take to Japan different from the contrived religion mocked by cynics? The answer is equally simple, but eternally significant: Unlike the dead religions of Dune or Buddhism or consumerism, Christianity lifts up a living God. In the words of Jeremiah 10:10-11,

“The LORD is the true God;
He is the living God, the eternal King.
…Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”

This truth makes all the difference. Because God is real and Lord over all, and because Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20), we can proclaim His gospel without fear or cynicism. Wherever we find ourselves in the world, our mission is not to convert people to lifeless religious activity, but to introduce them to Jesus, the Son of the living God!

Nathan Storms

Nathan is preparing to move to Japan with Mustard Seed Network, joining their mission of making disciples among the unreached there. Before graduating from Ozark Christian College in 2020 (and while interning with Christ’s Church’s Impact ministry), Nathan began following the Lord’s prompting toward Japan. Upon moving in early spring 2024, he will join the newest Mustard Seed Church in Yokohama.

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