Friends and family often ask what we do in Japan, and how that looks in contrast to perhaps ministry in some other part of the world. I will say that it is different than US missions, and most definitely different than say a third world country. Japan is a nation rich in history, heritage and culture. Modern Japanese culture is fascinating to experience, and to minister in Japan is a rare and unique opportunity. Friendships are key and life has a different pace and tambre. Japan is filled with natural beauty and wonderful people!
Is Japan missions similar to other foreign missions?
Answer: Missions work in Japan has its differences, but also its similarities. One similarity would be the need to show people that without Jesus we are all lost and have no real hope of a future beyond our own means and ways. On the other side, many would agree that Japan is one of the most difficult cultures to reach regarding the spreading of the gospel, but this has less to do with receptiveness and more to do with cultural expectations. Most Japanese prefer to stay within the boundaries of their social groups, including family, friends and expectations of the culture. Japan is urbanized, but with very low poverty and joblessness in contrast to say the US or a third world nation. Materialism and status are important. That being said, free food programs, care for the homeless, etc. are not widely used programs here as they might be in parts of Africa or the US. Friendship evangelism is perhaps the starting point for all Christian workers in Japan because time-tested relationships are what open doors here. Japanese are tolerant of religion, yet as a culture are largely buddhist and/or shinto. Many mix religions, including Christianity and Buddhism together.
What do you do in Japan?
Answer: Japan has really opened our eyes as to what ministry can be, as well has helped us to redefine what we thought ministry should be. I think ministry has a very simple definition: A visible display of Christ-like love. In that, it is very easy to love the Japanese because they are a community minded people. They are also a service-minded people. They are also historically, a disciplined, praying people. All of the elements for a new Christian are already in place! We minister by serving in multiple capacities, primarily:
- We serve on the worship team
- We hold small group meetings for young people in our home
- We preach the Word
- We teach English classes
- We teach Bible classes
- We support the local pastor and church leadership
- We engage our community by becoming a part of their lives personally
- We hold regular meetings and events to introduce the community to Christian living
- We hold prayer meetings and pray for people individually
Circumstances each day merit a different form of ministry. Sometimes it comes in the form of simply being there for someone who needs a shoulder to cry on, or someone to hug. Maybe watching someone’s kids so they can get some much needed rest. The opportunities are limitless. We have not had to look hard to find them.
How can I best pray for you?
Answer: 1) Every day! 2) For wisdom in all areas. 3) For favor in unexpected places. 4) Pray for the Japanese, that God would soften their hearts and show them the absolute truth!
Is Japan anything like what we see in the movies?
Answer: I suppose it depends on what movie you are talking about. If you mean “Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise, then no. In terms of the romanticized, ancient Japan with women running around in kimonos and big hairdos, that would also be no. Much of what one might find in import stores, television shows, etc. comes from a romanticized view of the elements for which Japan is known. However, modern Japan is highly electronic, with only trace elements of preserved history throughout the country in the form of museums, castles and landmarks. Japan is crowded; many apartments and stores dot the city horizon. In the country, homes are also close together because the valued land is used for farming rice and other home gardens. Japan is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes, but because the land is highly uncultivable or habitable, crowding and living in close quarters without privacy is a normal part of life. I think anyone from Wyoming would have a hard time adapting.
How can I support you?
Answer: Thank you for asking! The best way is really through prayer. The second best way is financially (big surprise, right?). We are missionaries sent from River of Life Fellowship in Kent, WA. Our income is defined by the church’s giving, plus a monthly stipend from our church’s missions fund. Any and all contributions are tax-deductible if paid through River of Life. We encourage you to prayerfully consider helping as God leads, and thank you in advance for your support! Japan ranks as one of the highest cost of living countries in the world, so every dollar is valuable to our family’s ministry and livelihood.