JAPAN IS KNOWN AS ‘THE MISSIONARY GRAVEYARD.”
- March 11, 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami. Watch this and please pray for Japan.
Facts for you to stay informed and prayerfully consider the need of our mission field.
Did you know?
- People pay money just for a cuddle as a result of stress and loneliness in Japan (see HERE). People are longing for friendships.
- Japanese are the second largest Unreached People Group -with 127 million people (according to Joshua Project).
- The Japanese worship 8 million gods, and have 183,000 cult groups registered with the government; 2/3rd of the population claims to have no religion.
- For the 14th year in a row, the number of people who committed suicide in Japan has topped 30,000.(There is a famous Suicide Forest called “Aokigahara” near Mt. Fuji). According to the government, suicides and depression cost its economy almost 2.7tn yen ($32bn; £21bn) in 2009. Suicide is now the leading cause of death among men aged 20-44 and women aged 15-34 (view clip here).
- In Japanese society stoicism and consensus are highly valued. Many view mental illness as a stigma that can be overcome simply by trying harder. Behind the suicides of young people is economic stagnation and a pervasive feeling of gloom about Japanese society.
- Japanese Churches usually do not average more than 35 members. Like in any culture, they are prone to Legalism. Youth groups are also neglected. Some churches have less than 10 members; and may be in decline.
- There is also lack of lay discipleship & empowerment ministries “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph.4: 12).
- “Traditional Protestant concern for a well-educated clergy, combined with hierarchical Confucian leadership model that emphasized the positional authority of the pastor/teacher has not encouraged an active role for the laity… As far as the….(CENCORED) are concerned, ministry is generally understood to be what “pastors” or “priests” are engaged in, for which the laity bear no resonsibility. The boundary between clergy and laity is clearly demarcated, and the membership tend toward passivity. Without a significant transformation of Japanese Christian attitudes and a mobilization of the laity for greater participation in congregational leadership, the future of these Protestant denominations seems very much in question” (Excerpt: Crisis Facing The Japanese Church).
- A culture of modesty & self-depreciation focuses on weaknesses rather than on strengths. Group Conformity is emphasized. People are often encouraged to “fit the mold” and “a nail that sticks out will be hammered.” But group conformity in the culture can be redeemed as born-again Christians learn to put the need and interest of the group ahead of individual selfish interests. People are externally polite, so honest feedback is rare. This can be unhealthy for Christian community growth.
- The average age of the traditional pastor is well over 60-80 years with no younger generations to replace them, and the traditional church is in decline.
- Church attendance for all Protestant churches in Japan is only 0.2% (2 for every 1000 people). Count only evangelical Protestants, the percent is about half that, or around 0.09%. Then count only the bible-believing Christians?
- Most Japanese have never even met a Christian, much less attended a church service or heard about the name of Jesus & His beautiful Gospel.
- Contemporary churches are gaining momentum because young adults/youth find it relevant. However, there is also a great need for new Church Plants with sound biblical teaching.
- There are about 1 million hikikomori(modern hermits) in Japan, representing 20 % of all male adolescents in Japan, or 1% o the total population. Many are socially & spiritually lost.
- Abortion is the most common form of birth control in Japan. 300,000 abortions take place annually.
- Japan is the #1 provider of child pornography(sexual abuse & child molestation are rampant). A 38.3 percent rise from the previous year in 2009 to mark the highest level on record.
- Figures from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show the cases of reported child abuse have quadrupled in 10 years and increased 40 fold in twenty years. In 1990, the ministry recorded 1,101 cases of abuse. In 1999, 11,631. In 2000, 17,725 cases. And in 2009, the numbers hit an all-time high of 44,211.
- Despite its wealth & economy, Japan is spiritually needy & empty with less than 1% Christians (0.4 protestants). 99 % sheep are lost.
- Japan’s Burden: Japan is ageing faster than any country in history, with vast consequences for its economy and society. This may have implications for the Gospel.
- Homelessness was largely unknown until the economic bubble burst in the early 1990s and unemployment began to rise. Osaka city alone has a homeless population of 7,700 officially (or more than 10,000 unofficially).
- Japan’s jobless rate is currently at 5.2%, which is a high record for Japan. There is a 15.7% poverty rate, one of the highest amongst industrialized nations. 15,800 people live on the streets of Japan (according to the government –but in reality this is probably higher with 10,000+ in Tokyo alone).
- Divorce, a plummeting birth rate and an increase in average lifespan are creating an epidemic of loneliness in Japan.
自殺者１万人を救う戦い – SAVING 10,000 – Winning a War on Suicide in Japan.
Why an insignificant Indian in Japan?
A lady from the Japanese immigration once asked me: “How can you be an Indian and a Christian at the same time?” The assumption is: You’re an Indian and therefore you must be either a Hindu or a Buddhist (or a Muslim). Not many know that Darius of Persia (424 to 404 B.C) expanded the Persian empire beyond the Indus River (Punjab and Sind), which is the entire western region of India (not the peninsula of Hindustan, but the country surrounding the Indus). This, in Old testament times, was under the Persian empire “in the days of Ahasuerus” (Esther 1: 1, 8: 9). Hence the people and the products of India were well known to the Jews, who seem to have carried on an active trade with Indians (Ezek. 27:15, 24). Tradition has it that “Doubting Thomas” (Jesus’ disciple) came to India to preach the Gospel to high caste Hindu Brahmins in 52 A.D (Malabar Region, South India). He was later martyred near Mylapore about 72 AD (near present-day Madras). In modern day, William Carey (1761-1834) came all the way to Serampore (not very far from the state of Mizoram, my home-state). Carey spent an active 41 years serving the Lord until his death in June 9, 1834. Later, Welsh missionaries then brought the Gospel to Mizoram (Aizawl) in the 19th century (which, today, comprises of 95% Christians, and is the largest missionary sending group, with a second highest literacy rate in modern India–all owing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ).
Furthermore, for many mainland Indians, religion permeates every aspect of life, from daily chores to education and politics. Although most Japanese consider themselves irreligious, they are, like Indians, pantheists (and syncretistic). Buddhism (an offshoot of Hinduism) originated in India in the 6th century BC. Of the main branches of Buddhism, is the Mahayana or “Greater Vehicle” Buddhism which eventually found its way to Japan. As an Indian, this has added some advantages, and has often become a point of contact with the Japanese. However, it is humbling to know that we cannot add anything to the Gospel. The Gospel itself is the “power of God” (Romans 1: 16) for everyone who believes. It is not by methodology but by the power of the Spirit that they will be won to Christ.
Vast majority of the Japanese still view Christianity as a western religion. Enamored by Western culture, Wedding Chapels are adapted as part of a Japanese life-stlye (while the truth of Christianity is subtly & politely rejected). A man is born into Shinto, lives as an Atheist, marries like a Christian, spends the rest of life making money, and finally in the end dies in a Buddhist-funeral-style. This sad cycle repeats itself into fatality in Post-modern Japan. Japanese, in general, have a stereotypical view of religion as potentially “bad” after the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo (by a Cult group). Christians have tremendous responsibility to re-built & re-gain trust in the lives of Japanese. As an Indian, I’m often mistaken, either for a Hindu or a Buddhist. This has led (by God’s grace) to interesting and friendly dialogue with the Japanese. It surprises them that an Indian would be a Christ-follower. This raises questions in their minds. Furthermore, in India, people die defending the Christian faith, whereas Japan enjoys absolute religious freedom. Christians don’t suffer persecution physically, but the spiritual warfare in Japan is subtle and western missionaries can be blinded to the nature, depth and reality (enforced by their scientific worldview). Meanwhile, I have had rich conversations with University students, including Cult groups like Tenrikyo, as a result of being mistaken for a Hindu/Buddhist. There are countless opportunities to share why a supposedly pluralistic Indian believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation. I recall a meeting in Mie-ken where a former Buddhist priest sat there listening to the Gospel, nodding his head. In contrast, one Cult leader said to me & my Japanese interpreter: “Your way is very narrow minded.” The “message of the cross is foolishness” and radically offensive to made-made religions. But there is great hope that Japan will come to Christ in the power of the Spirit (and not in the strength of the flesh). I find opportunities like these as a “Greater Vehicle” for Gospel witnessing and cultivating friendship with curious-inquiring Japanese people (who are made in the image of God).
Please pray about how you can be a part of missions in Japan.
Long Term Ministry: We envision to establish a trans-denominational Gospel-centered church planting churches, to train young men/women for domestic missions within Japan & for cross-cultural missions in Asia (where there is highest resistance to the Gospel). Japanese have a great influence on the socio-economic status of the people in the surrounding countries. Our heart’s desire is to see Gospel-centered Church Plants in every major City in Japan, so that the culture is transformed by the Gospel, resulting in a great impact in the rural areas; and around the globe to God’s glory. Our faith lies in the simple truth that it is Jesus (not us) who said: ” I WILL build My Church!”
We invite you to pray with us & invest your resources & time & energy for the global glory of Jesus Christ.