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Crisis to Opportunity: Japan Youth Stand Up to the Coronavirus with a Multi-Generation NEWSTART Program
April 19, 2020

 Even though the coronavirus is bringing fear upon the world, fearless young people in Japan are coming up with creative ways to make a stand. From March 17 to 26, 2020, a group of young people, who were supposed to participate in the March Youth Rush program but no longer were able to do because of the coronavirus outbreak, came up with a new idea called “Daniel Rush.”

Initially, Daniel Rush was designed for young people to provide an opportunity for spiritual growth and fellowship during this long quarantine time without going to school. They did not want to waste their time and be lazy at home.

Three Youth Rush university students and a Youth Rush leader gathered together, prayed, discussed, and planned out the Daniel Rush program in less than a week. In the book of Daniel, the four Hebrew youth were taken to Babylon as captives. Instead of eating the exotic and unclean Babylonian food, Daniel and his friends asked to be given water to drink and vegetables to eat for ten days.

Daniel Rush encourages all participants to take God seriously and try to adapt NEWSTART lifestyle habits in their lives for 10 days. All communications and activities are supposed to be done in the online group room at Line, a mobile application for instant communication. Through word of mouth and personal invitations, 125 people joined this program online!

Every day, the Daniel Rush leaders posted fun health quizzes and helpful surveys on the Line group. The participants were also encouraged to learn more about the Bible and health using the GiFTS online program. God is truly working through young people to accomplish great things here in Japan.

The purpose of this program was not to faithfully fulfill all eight principles of NEWSTART but rather to learn to enjoy finding and implementing healthy habits. When we talk about health, we are talking about both physical and spiritual health. Rather than coming up with reasons not to do something and putting off healthy changes, Daniel Rush encourages participants to start with something they can do right away. We believe that the journey of pursuing health is closely connected to the process of sanctification in a Christian’s journey.

Since everyone who was available online was able to participate whenever they had time, not only students but adults could join the program. We had participants from a wide range of ages, from teenagers to people in their 70s. There were 125 people from various backgrounds. They were divided into small groups of 4 to 6 people per group. Each small group had their own small Line group room to communicate, discuss, and pray for one another every day. Each small group was free to have a group call prayer meeting to have a discussion or simply exchange group text messages and notes everyday—whatever the group members preferred.

Here are some feedbacks from participants: “I was able to do my best because of team support!!” “Just having a different mindset and accountability really changed my day! Thank God for this opportunity!” “At my church, there are no young people in my age group. Through this Daniel Rush, I was able to have spiritual fellowship with young people my age! I am very happy!”

Here is a summary of activities of Daniel Rush:

1. Every day participants report, share, and pray with their small group members. They enjoy online fellowship and encourage one another to implement NEWSTART principles.

2. Participants enjoy and learn about health principles through daily quizzes posted in the main Line group by the Daniel Rush leaders.

3. Participants compare the health surveys they took before and after Daniel Rush and see the growth and changes.

4. Participants are encouraged to learn and study using the GiFTS online program about various topics, including the Bible and health.

5. People who aren’t able use the Line app can join using email.

6. After a 10-day program is over, for people who are interested in continuing, we plan to rearrange and make new teams to continue together.

7. We plan to create a testimony booklet by gathering testimonies from the participants. In these difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic, we hope that the testimony booklet will be an encouragement for people in Japan.

Through Daniel Rush, we were able to turn crisis into new opportunity. We pray that even after the 10 days of Daniel Rush, young people will continue to take the health message seriously and burn with passion for gospel mission. Also, it was a valuable experience that people from a wide age range had fellowship and teamwork using the mobile application. We are excited for the future of Daniel Rush. We pray that God will pour His blessings upon each and every one of us wherever we are. God bless you and maranatha!   

* NEWSTART is an acronym for the eight great principles of good health that God has given us to live by. The eight principles are nutrition, exercise, water, sunlight, temperance, air, rest, and trust in God.

Article by Tanaka Noa, JUC Literature Ministries Coordinator