To Olympic athletes, he's a chaplain for the 2020 Tokyo summer games. To the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), he’s the man with a vision to bring sports ministry to Japan.
To me, he’s the person I’ve looked up to for as long as I can remember. Few people get to meet their heroes, but I’m fortunate enough to have grown up alongside mine—my older brother, Will Thompson ’11.
We grew up in Tokyo while our dad worked for IBM. Will latched onto Japanese culture from the start and never looked back, even when life took us back to the U.S. He played baseball at Wheaton, attended the Chicago Japanese Mission Church, and led the Japan prayer group on campus with math professor Dr. Paul Ishihara.
When former Chicago Cubs outfielder Matt Murton went to play for the Hanshin Tigers, he hoped he could share his faith in Jesus with the fans. He had the heart, but he didn’t have the language abilities or time to set up a ministry. In 2010, he turned to his friend Will, whom he met through an FCA connection, with an idea to bring sports ministry to Japan.
Japan is a highly developed country of 127 million people, though less than one percent are Christian, which makes the Japanese the world’s second-largest unreached people group.
“It’s an exciting challenge, and God ignited my love for both Japan and sports early in my life,” says Thompson. “Even now, few things have been more significant to me than seeing a Japanese coach or athlete get to know Jesus.”
Will continues to reach people through sports ministry and has worked extensively with survivors of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He has also served at Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) events and the 2019 Rugby World Cup.