Published in  
March 22, 2024

Through The Lens: Japan

There is undoubtedly something very special about gathering with like-minded leaders to fellowship, worship, and encourage one another. This very thing is the mission of the ACTS Network. Founded in 2014, ACTS is an action sports ministry network that provides opportunities to gather leaders, validate their callings, grow one another, and share resources.

Since nearly the inception of this group, we have been honored to serve both as advocates for this vision and as volunteer leaders to help cultivate and facilitate opportunities for regional and global gatherings to take place. Every other year, there are regional gatherings, and during the off years, there is a global summit where leaders from around the world travel to learn from one another and spur each other on to continue fighting the good fight. For the 2024 Global Summit, we strategically chose Yokohama, Japan, as the location. Japan has one of the world’s largest action sports populations; in the past couple of Olympics, they have dominated nearly all of the action sports arenas.

With a growing open door to utilize action sports as a tool for outreach, evangelism, and discipleship, we are praying for a revival to take place in Japan, as the current population of Christians is less than 1%.

For three days, we sat as a group of 40 leaders to discuss what we have seen God do in the past, what we are seeing Him do currently, and what we hope to see Him do in the future. We identified areas on the world map that have large gaps without leadership, lifted up those who were feeling alone and discouraged, shared resources both physically and through experiences, and prayed together, asking God to continue to raise up new leadership worldwide!

On our second-to-last day together, we split into groups to go into the community and witness firsthand the immense opportunities that exist in Japan. Despite chilly winds with temps in the low 50s, the beaches were lined with hundreds of surfers, and the skatepark was filled with tons of young local rippers.

In an attempt to overcome the language barrier with many of the kids at the park, we exchanged smiles and fist bumps and shared with several skaters who could speak English the reason we were in Japan and the Good News that there is a God in Heaven that loves them and has a plan for their life.

We blessed a young boy named Toma with a new skate deck and were able to present the Gospel to him as well.

Sharing that if God loved him so much that He would send His only son to earth to die for him, it didn’t seem too wild to think that maybe God sent our team all the way to Japan, just to share this Good News with him!

He was a bit mind-blown at this concept, and you could tell the Truth of this thought was hard for him even to wrap his mind around.We exchanged information with Toma and have already gotten him plugged in with local Christian leaders in his community. We hosted a small best trick skate contest before we left the park, and a local leader and skater, Jordan, whom we’ve been blessed to work with in the past, presented the Gospel publicly at the park for the first time. Many seeds were planted, and the message he shared was well received. Meeting people where they are isn’t too difficult when we get to meet them in a space that we all share in common. For us, this is at the park or in the lineup.

We continue to see the action sports world as a cross-cultural open door to building relationships, sharing the Gospel, and equipping and empowering leaders for ongoing discipleship. As Jesus said to the disciples in John 4, “Lift up your eyes and look at the harvest…” our prayer is that you will join us in both looking and praying for the millions and millions of surfers, skaters, snowboarders, climbers, and numerous other action sports communities in Japan.

The harvest is so, so plentiful, but the workers are few. Currently, there are less than a dozen action sports ministry leaders in Japan. We pray that more leaders will be called, trained, and sent to Japan to serve.

Many of the country's leaders are serving alone. They are witnessing by themselves, which, as you can imagine, can be both discouraging and exhausting. For this very reason, we chose to gather in Japan, but also to shine a light on the need for the Gospel and more Gospel workers. After four days in Japan, despite the spiritual poverty, we are leaving feeling encouraged, blessed, and continually inspired to see the name of Jesus glorified to the ENDS of the earth. We know He is at work in Japan and pray that God will continue to provide our organization with opportunities to invest in this country!

All Photography By Zakarie Braun

I am sitting on a plane about to land in the Philippines as I’m writing this update. We will be landing in Manila, and for the next six days, we’ll be visiting two different islands, meeting with multiple local leaders, and continuing to plant seeds and pave the way for a future headquarters of Ride Nature in this part of the world. It is our prayer that this potential discipleship hub will play a strategic role in equipping leaders in SE Asia, including a large focus on Japan. We look forward to sharing an update on our time in the Philippines with you all soon, but until then… thank you so much for partnering with us both through your financial support and prayers.

To the ENDS of the earth!