Carrying the Torch for Japan

The Lord has called Cornerstone to be a missions-sending church and a house of prayer for all nations. Since the early 2000s, Japan has been placed on our vista. As we awakened and arose to God’s clarion call in that nation, we sought for open doors, opportunities, and partners, which will extend His Kingdom into the land of the rising sun. Revival has been heralded through the years—for our Saviour’s glory to erupt amongst the Japanese, for the waiting to be broken, for the tipping point to come. Amidst the cries of, “Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus,” the large conferences, growing churches, flourishing networks and pro-grammes have been mistaken as the hallmarks of Japan’s revival. We should be anxious for the Name of God to be vindicated and for His Gospel truth to be authenticated in a world at war. But be careful, lest we constrict, and carelessly inaugurate the extraordinary working of the Spirit as institutionalised demonstrations, which He has denied.

Ps. Deborah Ng, the National Coordinator for Japan and a member of Cornerstone since 1995, helms Cornerstone’s ‘Prayer for Japan’ initiative. She highlights that faithfulness in prayer has preceded every birth of revival since the time of Acts. She astutely discerns and asks, “How do you define revival? Are we building the Kingdom of God, or our own? We like busyness and activities but they must bear fruits that remain, and not merely draw the crowds… Will they sow seeds? We aren’t interested in making converts, but disciples.” With much candour, she took the time to answer questions on enduring intercession and prayer, what it takes to persevere, the vision for Japan’s prayer initiative, and more. An edit-ed version of the exchange appears below.

How did Cornerstone kick-start the work with Japan?

We’ve always been looking for inroads into Japan. But in December 2007, when our Senior Pastor, Ps. Yang was there on holiday with his family, the Lord spoke to him about the Japanese who were also living in Singapore. He returned with a fresh vision and I was tasked to kickstart the Japanese Fellowship in April 2008.

Together with a core team, we reached out primarily to the Japanese pre-believers in Singapore. There was a student convert who shared, “All this while, I’ve heard about Jesus. But with you, I saw the reality of who He is. I’d like to receive Him into my life.” We cried. We had presented Christ to this person just by loving and serving him. We also ministered to believers, pastors’ kids, and backsliders who were ostracised for their religion in Japan, and many rededicated their lives to the Lord. This went on for several years until the Japanese economic recession hit and many of them returned home. Those who were saved wanted to be an impact and testimony to their people.

How has the vision for the prayer initiative evolved through time?

Through the years, we’ve had different prayer initiatives. But COVID-19 put a stop to our onsite prayer meetings and we started to meet on Zoom. This accelerated what God can do through technology. Aside from Singaporeans, people from different parts of Japan and Australia have also joined us. God has given us a mandate for Japan and we want to cast a larger net. We are not to keep within our four walls. To those who join us, I tell them to ‘Go, and multiply more prayer groups for Japan’. Reach out to your spheres of influence. Revival fire begins with us and that’s how revival fire will spread.

What have been your deep learning lessons regarding prayer and intercession?

It’s easy for us to run ahead of God and do whatever we want before hitting a wall. Psalms 127:1 says it so well, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers labour in vain.” Prayer and intercession are about coming to a place where we are abiding in God, and so aligned with His purposes and timing that we know what He wants to do. We then run with His vision and follow through. We serve His vision, not a need. If we only pray for the needs of Japan, we will burn out. But the mandate, the vision of revival, the salvation of the Japanese, keeps us going. Prayer and intercession keep the fire in us burning. Take out a piece of charcoal from a burning pile and it will fizzle out.

Have you witnessed the impact and change that prayer and intercession has made in Japan?

Those overseas share of a veil that’s lifted once they come out of Japan. There is a spiritual resistance in the land that’s preventing her people from coming into the knowledge of Christ. We must pray for the shift in the atmosphere, the veil to be opened, the spiritual ground to break, and freedom for the Japanese. Dr. Suzette Hattingh was Reinhard Bonnke’s powerful intercessor. Whenever he encountered spiritual resistance at his crusades and was unable to preach, he would stamp his foot, and under the stage would be a team of intercessors led by Dr. Suzette who prayed for the unblocking. These crusades saw great success, but fruitfulness does not always equate to quantity. And we need to invest in work where the foundations will stand.

Can you share a significant turning point when the Lord met your prayers?

We’ve been praying for a partner in Japan, and for God to open the door. Through Ps. Kevin Graves, we were connected to his friends of many years, Ps. Mas and Ps. Barbara Suzuki, who run an independent church in Japan. Since 2019, they have become part of our Cornerstone family.

What sort of intercessory prayer moves mountains and breaks the hard grounds?

Prayer and supplication should not be a repetitive and religious duty, though it can feel that way. However, in those ‘chronos’ moments of faithfulness, which can be mundane and routine, there will be the ‘kairos’ moments. If we are not faithful in the ‘chronos’ moments, we will miss the ‘kairos’ moments. Like the watchmen who stood on the wall, prepared for the enemy, we need to be spiritually alert and pray for the things God has called us to be faithful in, or we risk missing His warnings because we have been sleeping. Breakthroughs demand enduring intercession, which produces great power and authority in the spiritual realm. Nehemiah was as vigilant in prayer as he was in rebuilding the walls. Like the parable of the talents, for those who are faithful, more will be given.


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