The company he works for is an immense pharmaceutical giant. And here he is, sitting across from me.
We initially met at Starbucks. I was drinking my overpriced Japanese coffee, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw him holding a piece of paper with Kongi and English. This provided an opening to begin conversation. As we began to talk, I soon found out he soon would travel to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to close deals for his company. Nobody sends a low-level operative to represent your company in America. He was so delighted to talk and interested in my story that he offered to take me to dinner in the future.
We got together for a meal at a local Japanese casual restaurant, and it is here the mystery of the gospel was presented to him. As we dove into the topic of religions, I knew my work was cut out for me. Most Japanese do not believe in a religion, but many believe there are 8 million gods, and everything around you is a god. And that’s not to limit the amount of gods, for the “8” stands for infinity. That’s essentially what this man believed. So, after intently listening to his thoughts and views, I begin to layout a case for Christ.
We discuss a multitude of topics, from the historical accuracy of the Bible, to the nature of God, and to the differences between Christianity and other religions. But as I found through personal experience, numbers of manuscripts and theological philosophy will not fully capture the image of Christ to those who are lost. The most personal and powerful story of the gospel is not found in an academic book or in statistics—it is found in us. It’s the story of how Jesus’ good news saved and changed us.
As I began to pour out my life, telling how Christ changed me, I could see true understanding in his eyes. My friend was not bored with the story. I quoted the end of the beatitudes in Matthew where Jesus calls us to be salt and light in the world, to let our light so shine before men that they will see our works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. I told him how I want my life to be different.
This was the sticking point—to move into a metaphor of how I wanted my life to be. I heard this example many years ago, and through the years, it has flowed into the context of my conversation—but never before as perfect as this.
“Imagine I am eating a dessert,” I said. “Its just so good—the cream, the chocolate, the little nuts that tie the flavor together. …This is perfect.” (Cue waiter, walking to table beside us with breathtaking dessert.) “But wait, look at that dessert over there. It makes mine look like nothing! Look at the precision, the creativity, the flavors, the artistry. After looking at it, I feel like mine is missing something. I wish I could have that something which makes it different. I want the better dessert.”
God’s perfect timing spurred me on to drive home the point. When people see my life, I want them to see me as the better dessert. I want them to look at their life and say, “What does he have that I don’t?” In this world of darkness and despair, in this world of seekers and sinners, every person is looking for something to fulfill his or her life. As the believers in Antioch who first were called Christians, may we be salt to a tasteless life, may we be light to the dark places, and in a world searching for something more, may we be the better dessert.
Pray for my friend, as I connect him with a missionary who lives here. Pray he will continue to have a thirst and desire to know the one and true God of the Bible.
Dan Black, a student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, is serving with Go Now Missions in Japan.