Babienco Missions

Stories and Updates from Michael and Caitlyn's mission service in Japan

Hello, and welcome to the first Babienco Missions newsletter fully dedicated to our new mission adventure.

In case you missed the last newsletter, we two Babiencos, Michael & Caitlyn, are embarking on a new adventure, going as career missionaries to Japan through Adventist Frontier Missions. Some of you might be wondering what "career missions" is—we will be addressing that in a future newsletter. For now, though, we want to address two bigger questions that might be on many minds: Why is mission work still needed? And why is this needed, particularly in Japan?

Why Missions?

It is easy to assume that Christians have already reached the whole world with the gospel and that Seventh-day Adventists have done the same with our message. We have made that assumption ourselves. After all, with the internet, TV, radio, and other means of communication, surely everyone has heard the gospel in their own language and culture, right? Unfortunately, recent statistics paint a rather stark picture regarding the completion of the gospel work.

But is sharing the gospel with the whole world really that important in the first place? The Bible says it is! In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave one of His final commands, called the Great Commission, to the disciples before He went up to heaven. The directions? “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We see a similar idea of going to the whole world contained in the three angel’s messages of Revelation 14. The angels flying in the midst of heaven have “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.” The everlasting gospel should go everywhere to everyone. Matthew 24:14 gives us another view of how important this idea of sharing the gospel is, stating “the end will come” after God’s people preach the gospel in all the world.

As Christians, we should want as many people as possible to know Christ and be in heaven with us. So how has the spread of the gospel progressed in the last 2,000 years since Christ gave the Great Commission?

Although there has been tremendous progress in many different areas, unfortunately, the gospel has still not reached everyone everywhere. God has greatly blessed the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) denomination with many churches, schools, and other institutions, but it is present in only 212 out of 235 countries/areas of the world. We have not yet reached the whole world with the gospel and the three angel’s messages. What about all of Christianity? According to Joshua Project, a website that tracks the spread of the gospel based on the idea of people groups, there are still over three billion people who remain unreached by the gospel. That is over 40% of the world’s population. (A people group is considered unreached by Joshua Project when it has less than 5% Christians and less than 2% evangelicals.) These unreached people groups have little to no Christian presence, and outside assistance from other cultural groups is required to help bring the gospel message to the whole people group. Not even the internet will suffice in reaching all unreached groups. In late 2021, a United Nations agency found that 2.9 billion people—about 37% of the world’s population—have never been on the internet. Ever.

Here is a map of the world that shows where these unreached peoples live, as displayed on Google Maps by Joshua Project.
Green dots represent areas of the world where the gospel has taken root. Red dots represent unreached people groups. Yellow dots are closer to green in terms of people being “reached," and orange dots are closer to red in terms of people being "unreached." Click on the picture to see a larger version of this image. Image credit: Joshua Project.
Our goal as Christians should be to reach every place where the gospel has not been heard so that as many people as possible can learn about Jesus and go to heaven to be with Him when He returns (hopefully very soon!). This is why mission work is still necessary—multitudes still need to hear the good news, and it is our privilege to go and share.
Why Japan?
So if missions and missionaries are still needed in the 21st century, why is this work needed in Japan specifically? Is not Japan a first-world country with easy access to the gospel?

Yes, the Bible is available in their language, and there are Christian churches in Japan. They have had Christian influences of one kind or another since around the middle of the 16th century. Unfortunately, history and statistics show that Christianity has never taken root in Japan. Japan is actually the largest, unevangelized country entirely open to missionaries. In a country of around 126 million people, only about 2% of the country have embraced the good news of Jesus Christ. Around 0.6% of the population is considered evangelical. Even though the country is open to gospel workers, Christianity declines in membership by about 0.5% each year.

The Seventh-day Adventist message reached Japan with the arrival of Abram La Rue in 1889, but few people in Japan today are active members of the SDA church. There are only around 6,000 active members in the entire country, amounting to about 0.005% of the population. In fact, there are more people in the Tokyo metropolitan area (30+ million) than there are SDAs worldwide. To put it in perspective, if you were to make it your full-time job (8 hours a day) to meet a Seventh-day Adventist by talking to random strangers back-to-back and spending only one minute with each person, it would take you an average of 17.5 days to meet an SDA church member in Japan. In the United States, this same job of meeting a Seventh-day Adventist would take less than two days, even though the U.S.A. has a much larger overall population. Someone who is in an unreached people group will likely never meet and get to know a Christian or have an opportunity to get to know their Savior unless someone goes to share the good news with them.

Many Japanese have not heard the gospel message yet., and they need to hear it in a way that makes sense in their own culture and language. We have experienced the love of Christ in our own lives, and we want the Japanese people to have the opportunity to know and serve the amazing God that we have gotten to know over the years. We are excited to go and share with as many as we can.
A picture of Mt. Fuji. Photo by Daniel Hehn on Unsplash.
Praises & Prayer Requests
  • Caitlyn and I have already seen God at work in our preparation for the journey to Japan. We have even met someone who volunteered to help us learn some Japanese before we go overseas—a huge blessing! We hope to share some stories and cultural tidbits in future newsletters as we continue to learn.
  • We are really excited about the potential of meeting more people from Japan this summer as we talk to many people surrounding the General Conference meetings, SDA camp meetings, and other events.
  • Please pray for Caitlyn and me as we start small-scale language studies. Yes, we will be learning to speak and read Japanese! Pray that our brains, eyes and ears will understand and remember the new sights and sounds so we may become fluent in the language.
  • Caitlyn and I have a long road ahead on our way to Japan, and we hope to launch by January 2024 at the latest. Future newsletters will spell out more details of what our launch will look like. Please pray for this process.
Thanks for reading. We would love to hear back from you. Always feel free to reach out and send us an email (replying to this email will send your message our way) or give us a call or text at ***.***.****. We would be happy to pray for any prayer requests you might have. Thanks so much for your support!
Michael & Caitlyn Babienco
Volunteer Missionary Candidates
***.***.**** (call/text)
Adventist Frontier Missions
Main Office: 269.473.4250
Toll free: 800.937.4236