Global Adventure as a Catalyst
Andy and Hitomi Gray, both alums of Fuller's School of Intercultural Studies, have woven adventure into the fabric of their lives. As the founders and directors of Global Adventure, a nascent nonprofit organization based in Hachioji, Japan, Andy (MA '98) and Hitomi (PhD '99, MA '93) lead residents of Japan on adventures of compassion and community--both within Japan and around the world.
The vision for Global Adventure developed as the Grays wrestled with their situation as new arrivals in a foreign land. "Soon after we arrived in Japan," Andy says, "we were confronted with the 'foreign' habits of our Christian life, including ways of doing church and reaching out to non-Christians." This led to a particular desire to "reach deep into the lives of people we were connecting with. We wanted to be light in the darkness--not lighting from the outside, but shining from the inside."
Andy and Hitomi eventually made the decision to reach out to those in mainstream Japanese culture by offering "adventure" experiences designed to open windows in the human soul. Through Global Adventure, they now take participants on study trips to an orphanage in Cambodia and arrange other volunteer, community building, and coaching programs in Japan. The goal is to connect Japanese people--and internationals living in Japan--with individuals, cultures, and ways of life different from their own, and thereby awaken fresh community and the discovery of new perspectives and possibilities. "We are energized by the synergy that is forming," says Hitomi. "What a joy it is to partner with Christ and with our Japanese friends!"
Global Adventure operates as a non-profit and does not consider itself a ministry organization, although Andy and Hitomi incorporate readings from the Bible and other spiritual texts into the experiences they offer. "We want to serve and engage directly with people in the culture," Andy says. "Whatever comes out of that in terms of ministry will be the result of relationships that form as we serve in the community."
During a recent trip to Cambodia, the group spent a week sharing life with people in poverty, primarily at a community that cares for children orphaned by AIDS (many of whom are HIV-positive themselves). Upon returning to Japan, one participant shared how the experience had deeply affected her: She had "never experienced love," she said, but she received so much trusting love from the children that she is now able to love them back--to her shock and surprise! Another woman said she was challenged to think about "the poverty of the heart." Although economically Japan is a wealthy country, she observed that many in Japan are relationally and spiritually poor. These two women had a long conversation one night in Cambodia, and they concluded: It's all about love. Both of these women are from strong Buddhist backgrounds. "We don't know where their journey will lead," Hitomi explains. "Neither has come to faith, but we are continuing to relate and work with them to love and coach them along the way."
"Fuller released us to be creative cross-cultural workers for Christ," says Andy. "It gave us not only an academic and theological foundation, but also the paradigm of doing theology in context. Fuller challenged us with freedom to follow Christ while thinking outside of the box of traditional missionary roles. We are not afraid to pioneer and explore new ways of being and living out church, because we know God continues to work out his mission in history with us."
"I found it particularly useful to have received prayer counseling skills at Fuller," adds Hitomi, "and perspectives with which to help Japanese people who suffer with emotional and mental issues." Along this path of innovation and care, she reflects, "we have established lasting friendships with so many people around the world who now inspire and encourage us." And that, in a nutshell, is what Global Adventure is all about: helping people to connect, discover, and find direction as they encounter what is real and true in life; so that they, too, will become light for others on the way.
Read more about Global Adventure at www.globaladventure.jp. Andy and Hitomi also serve on the staff of Church Resource Ministries (CRM) in Japan; visit www.crmleaders.org to learn more about CRM.