One of the benefits of working at (and having kids attending) one of the prominent Christian schools in Tokyo is the possibility of high profile visitors dropping in for a visit every once in a while. Last week, CAJ was fortunate enough to be one of the few venues visited by the legendary singer-songwriter-worship leader Michael W. Smith. Mr. Smith has traveled all over the world with the Billy Graham Crusade but this year was his very first time in Japan.
Mr. Smith will perform at the upcoming Celebration of Love event, one of the largest evangelistic outreach events in Japan in recent history, in November. Though it wasn’t specifically said, this trip seemed to be a combination of Mr. Smith getting more familiar with Japan before coming in November and creating some publicity for the Celebration of Love event.
It was quite an experience to have such a renowned musician perform in an intimate venue like the CAJ amphitheater, with just his keyboard and occasionally backing tracks accompanying him. In the afternoon, he performed for the school. Though he started off with a few songs, he might have been a little surprised at how few of the students in Japan know his body of work (or perhaps not used to how non-interactive students in Japanese can appear to be, even if they are listening), deciding to switch from concert to message mid-stream. It was just an example of how gracious and in-tune he is with his audience; he didn’t want the kids to sit through a concert of songs they had no context for.
The evening concert, put on for the community, was a different story, however. The “sold out” show (not really sold out, since the tickets were free) was filled with many long time Michael W. Smith fans, so there was never any question that he was going to play his full set. The concert opened with one of CAJ’s talented seniors singing two beautiful songs to a standing ovation, followed by a roaring gospel number by 13 members of the Celebration of Love gospel choir, which will number 2,000 by November. For the final two songs, Mr. Smith summoned the choir back on stage to accompany him, including his well known worship song, “Agnus Dei”.
Of course, the concert at CAJ was simply a taste of the bigger event which will occur in November. For three full evenings, the 20,000 seat Budokan will host the evangelistic Celebration of Love, where local Christians can invite their friends and family to hear the gospel and worship God together in music. This is an event with the potential for lasting impact on the city of Tokyo and indeed the entire nation of Japan.
Please join with us in prayer for the Celebration of Love event on November 20-22. Pray especially that local Christians will see it for what it is: an opportunity for their friends and family to hear the gospel, and not just a big party for Christians in Tokyo.