When Yuya Ueda of Japan attended the Haggai Leader Experience at the age of 28, he was one of the youngest Haggai leaders to be equipped at the international level. But at that point, he had  already been in active ministry for over a decade. A supernatural experience as a teen and a tragic loss early in his life accelerated his calling to share the Gospel.

“I had an experience with the Holy Spirit when I was 17. Since then, I have been called to serve Him. When my brother passed away at just 18, I protested to God and tried to turn away from Him…. but God spoke to me, ‘Even though your sincere prayer did not come true, will you believe in and follow me?’ Then I remembered how God worked in my brother’s tough season fighting cancer. And I thought, ‘Only the true God is able to make him smile and gave him hope in heaven.’ And I repented and turned back to Jesus.”

Pastor Yuya Ueda delivering his message at Moriyama Christ Gospel Church.

Yuya became the pastor of Moriyama Christ Gospel Church at 28, just before he attended the Haggai Leader Experience. In his role as a pastor, he feels specifically called to bring the hope of the Gospel to those hurting in Japan. His country has one of the highest rates of suicide in the developed world, often attributed to the culture’s heavy emphasis on honor and achievement. In 2020, after seeing a slow, decade-long decline in suicide rates, Japan saw rates of suicide increase again, an early sign of the pandemic’s mental and emotional strain.

“We pray for this situation to be changed. Recently, a man visited our church. He was suicidal, with no hope, no home, no money, and no food. I shared the Gospel and prayed for him. I asked him to stay a night in a locked space at church. We gave him a bath ticket for the public spas and access to daily meals. He helped out by cleaning the church, and as he fellowshipped with us, his health began to improve. He found a job to pay off his debts and saved money for his new start. He recently got baptized and moved into his own apartment. Now, he is a member of our church body, worships Jesus, and studies the Bible. He is receiving medical attention for his mental health and stays strong in his faith. Praise the Lord!”

Yuya Ueda

Yuya is also part of an exciting new development with Haggai International in Japan. Less than 2% of the population identifies as Christian, and there is significant cultural resistance to a faith that is characterized as “Western.” This has made establishing a local Haggai network incredibly difficult. But recently, a small group of Japanese Haggai leaders have relaunched Haggai Japan, and this spring, with Yuya serving as their vice-chair, they will hold their fifth session in less than one year.

“I am a vice-chairman of the Haggai Japan board, and this spring we will have the privilege to start a National seminar. This makes me happy because I can equip more leaders how to effectively share the Gospel with other faithful believers in Japan.”