Many times along life’s journey, I thought it would be cool to YouTube. I’m trained in engineering but studied music, so I can nerd with the best of them. Or if you prefer the Japanese word, otaku. I also did web design years ago and learned photography out of necessity. But soon it became a passion, and along with it, the beautiful digital video that DSLRs can create.
Even before there was YouTube, my siblings and friends would make short videos with a VHS video camera (I’m showing my age here). We did all kinds of videos with terrible acting, but hey — it was fun! So when YouTube came along, a number of times I thought it would be fun to give it a shot, but always stopped short, not really sure what the direction of the channel should be.
When we moved to Japan, I started making short videos for our friends and family back in America. I made some simple vlogs and emailed the links to them. The response was great, but I never did it with a bigger audience in mind. It was just a tool to help them feel connected to us in a bigger way. Then as life got busy, the videos stopped.
Years later, my brother-in-law Bruno said “Nate, I think you should start your own YouTube channel.” At that point I thought That’s too much work. But we had an extended time of prayer at church, and to my absolute astonishment I sensed God telling me to start a YouTube channel. Once I realized that God really wanted me to do it (which is a strong thing for anyone to sense or even verbalize), I thought what would the channel be about? Immediately the thought came back from God “About your family and life in Japan.” So the channel was born.
After a slow first year, the channel started to get traction outside of our friends and family. Our first video to really take off was about Tokyo Skytree Tower. I remember as the numbers just kept going up and up, in disbelief. It was a thrill.
After that we had a number of big videos. Comments, likes and subscriptions came pouring in. Monetization came — a crazy thought to me that I might actually get a little bit of money out of all of the blood, sweat and tears already invested. I thought God, I had no idea this was going to happen! Thank you!
People on the street began to recognize us and stop us and say “Are you the Reutters from YouTube?” It was strange getting used to the fact that wherever we went in Japan, people probably knew us (and earlier this year, in America as well). With the spotlight, I really began to pray for God’s protection over our family.
Since then, we’ve had a video get over a million views and another video about to hit a million. Many other videos have hundreds of thousands of views. The exposure for our church and work in Japan has been fantastic, and our subscriber base has become rock solid.
But I’ve also felt all the stress and pressure that comes with producing YouTube videos and working full-time as well. Many times I’ve thought of throwing in the towel and having a simpler, easier life in Japan. So why do we keep on producing videos week in, week out? What continues to motivate us past all of the YouTube creator blues?
In short, the answer is you. Yes, you are the reason that I can’t imagine stopping this. When I think of what God has done through this channel, and all the people it has helped feel encouraged, hopeful and cognizant of the church in Japan and the hope that there is in Jesus for happy families full of life, I get happy and excited. I love reading the comments, interacting with everyone and inviting them to meet us at Paz Coffee Shop.
There may come a day that God says to stop, or for our own sanity and health we need to stop, but until then, this is the ride of a lifetime — the ride of Life in Japan.