The Japanese are one of the largest unevangelized people groups in the world today. Despite over 140 years of Protestant missionary witness, less than 1% of the Japanese identify themselves as Christian. Buddhism and Shintoism are the main religions in Japan. However, religion is not religious but something cultural to many Japanese people. Most Japanese look at religion as something that is simply a part of their culture, not as something you believe in. The concept of god is different in Japan than in the West. Japan calls itself “the country of eight million gods”, implying that gods can be everywhere and be anything. The word, “kami”, in Japan which is usually translated “god”, can be applied to an idol, a spirit, things in nature, a deity, a departed ancestor, and even to a living human being. Thus, the idea of god itself is quite ambivalent in the Japanese mind. Even if you are not religious, you can still petition a god and ask for something, or seek to appease a god so that a curse might be lifted. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you believe in god. If you just do the things that a god requires then you will be happy. That is enough, as far as most Japanese are concerned. Japanese do things for “gods” so that bad things will not happen to them, not because they believe in what they are doing.
Although Japan is considered to be one of the most developed countries, people are living without hope. They do not know what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. Sadly, Japan has the highest suicide rate. Many people choose to end their lives when they do not see any hope. Many young people are struggling without having any purpose for life. They get depressed when they cannot meet their parents’ expectations. Young people are having such a difficult time finding a job in the current economy, and they do not know where to get help.
Our main focus in Japan will be in student ministry. We will be visiting the local universities to meet the students, start a weekly Bible Study, and invite them to the local churches. We will also help the local churches by starting a youth program. Many churches are struggling because they do not have many leaders. We want to encourage the Japanese believers to rise up and serve God and others in the community.
We have served in Japan several times in the last few years, and God showed us how He can change someone’s life completely. Our hearts hurt for the people who are lost, and we want to share His good news with everyone that we meet in Japan. Since relationship is so important in the Japanese culture, our first step will be building relationships with many Japanese people. The Gospel is most effectively communicated in a relationship of trust and friendship. Please pray that God will open many doors for us to meet the Japanese people and their hearts will be ready to receive Christ.