Do People Look At You Strange? Are You a Gaijin?

Do People Look At You Strange? Are You a Gaijin?

When I minister in other countries, there is this barely perceptible, but yet real emotional maybe psychological thing that happens when I return home.  It seems that when I arrive back at the first major U.S. airport, there is this sigh and relaxation that passes through me. As I am making my way to immigrations, there is always a little charge when I see the sign that signifies the line for US passport holder or citizens.

After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that this experience is not just because I am coming home, but it is because I have arrived back in the U.S. Now why is this significant? It is because this is where my citizenship is; this is where I have certain freedoms and rights. While in other countries, I am not always sure of all the laws and rights or freedoms people have. I have to remember; I am a visitor in those countries and act accordingly.

In Japanese they have a word, gaijin which means “foreigner,” “outsider,” or “non-Japanese.” It is composed of gai (outside) and jin (person), so the word could be translated literally as “outside person.” It is a word used to designate those individuals who are not part of the Japanese culture or nation; these individuals are distinctly different.

When I have ministered in Okinawa, I have met Americans who have lived there for years. Much of their life is immersed in the culture of Okinawa: some of them have married Okinawans and live among them. Yet, they are gaijin, non-Japanese, they are still American and many of the Okinawans view them as outsiders. In short – they are different!

Paul tells us that our “citizenship…is in heaven” (Ph 3:20 ISV). Now he is not telling us that we are a citizen of some fare off, never, never land; but we are citizens of a spiritual kingdom. As a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are to remember that in this world we are an emissary or ambassador of our King: to this world I should always appear as “gajin” or “outside person.”

I enjoy learning the cultures of other lands. When I am in other countries, I constantly ask “Why?” “What does that mean?” Yet, I know that in many of those situations, I will never fully comprehend the significance of the action, compared to those who are born and raised there. There is always this awareness that I am not of that culture: I am a visitor and I do not completely fit in. If my citizenship is of another kingdom, where should I find I feel the most at home?

It is in His kingdom, demonstrating a culture of spiritual dominion, where I should feel the most comfortable.  While I must live in the midst of this world, I must remember, I am a gaijin, a foreigner, outsider; I am not of this place. My conduct should be such that I reflect the beliefs and values of my King and then manifest them by my actions. Paul further tells us “Only be sure as citizens so to conduct yourselves [that] your manner of life [will be] worthy of the good news (the Gospel) of Christ” (Phil 1:27 AMP). My life should be such that to this world I am always known as ”gajin.”

Food for thought – Does this world look at you as a Gaijin? When do you feel the most at home: When immersed in the culture of the world, or in the culture of the kingdom?

About the author

Martin Schmaltz

Martin�۪s passion is to see the kingdom of God manifested in the lives of each believer. In his 13 years as a pastor, he has experienced the transformation from traditional Christianity to kingdom illumination. During this time, he has seen the Jesus manifest his power and presence is mighty ways. Today, he is challenging the traditional paradigm of church, enlightening the body of believers to the potential that lies within them.