I would like to share with you a little bit about my beloved home country, Japan. I am mostly Japanese with a mix of Chinese and Caucasian. I was born in Japan and grew up there until I was 11 years old. Although I had always had a special love for Japan, I had very little contact with the Japanese community and the culture after I moved to the states. Even after I became a believer and I began praying for and reaching out to unbelievers, I did not have any special focus on the Japanese. It was not until I heard about the tsunami in Fukuoka in 2011 that the Lord put a special burden on my heart for Japan and it’s people.
Japan is one of the richest nations on earth and has the third largest economy in the world after the US and China. It is a peaceful and thoroughly first-world nation and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The Japanese are polite, orderly, and have a reputation for hard work and honor. However, there is a dark side to Japan that is often hidden or overlooked by most non-Japanese:
1. Japan has one of highest suicide rates in the world.
2. Hikikomori (word for shut-in and recluse) is a type of extreme depression that seems to exist only in Japan. These people (mostly young men) completely withdrawal from society by locking themselves in a room. Some have not spoken or seen anyone for more than 2 years and have completely withdrawn from human contact.
3. Japan has the largest sex industry in the world by financial value, and there is a growing problem in Japan with teenagers getting involved with very dark and destructive areas of sin.
4. Many young people in Japan live with no hope and no desire to make any change. According to a recent survey, only 36% of Japanese high school students feel they have worth as a person (vs. 75% for South Korea, 88% for the US).
5. Japan is a workaholic nation. Many Japanese salarymen are expected to work an average of 80 hrs/week. Because of this many families are falling apart due to the absence of fathers in the homes.
6. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world along with the longest lived people on earth, which means there are lots of elderly people with very few young people. In fact, there are more cats/dogs in Japan than children under the age of 7. Because of the unbalance in the economy, experts are predicting that the Japanese economy will collapse by the year 2060.
7. The total percentage of Christians, including Catholics, in Japan is less than 1%. According to the Joshua Project, which defines an unreached people group as having a Christian percentage of less than 2%, Japan is the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world. Among the top 10 unreached people groups, the Japanese are not only the wealthiest but the only group that has 100% freedom of religion and are known for freely issuing missionary visas. The average size of a Japanese church is roughly 15-20 people with the majority of people over the age of 50. This is a very accurate description of the Japanese church in Raleigh that I visit once a month.
8. Although Japan is in the 10/40 window, most ministries have ceased sending missionaries to Japan due to the lack of success in the past couple of decades.
9. The Japanese language is so heavily influenced by Buddhism and Shintoism that it is extremely difficult to fully convey the heart of the gospel.
10. Japan is a country of conformity. To stand out or to stand apart from the majority is frowned upon in Japan. This causes the Japanese to shy away from attending churches even if they had an interest.
11. Christianity is still viewed as a western religion and those who are serious about their faith are looked upon as members of a cult.
After doing some research and learning more in detail about the exact extent of Japan’s spiritual famine, I began to pray earnestly for a spiritual awakening in Japan and for opportunities of outreach to the Japanese community. In the past few years I have gotten to know many Japanese in the area and have been actively involved in the Japanese church in Raleigh and in the Japanese community support group by translating the sermon into English for the blended meeting on every fourth Sunday of the month and by volunteering for miscellaneous cultural events and community outreach.
Early this year, I was offered the opportunity to serve in Japan with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in Tokyo. I will be translating for the Greater Tokyo Celebration of Love with Franklin Graham in the Nippon Budokan from November 20th through November 22nd. Please pray for those who will be attending so that they will embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and come to know and accept him as their personal lord and savior. Also, please be in prayer for the workers so that they may be an effective instrument for the Lord to bring people to Christ.
If you are interested in learning more about the event, please visit the website at www.celebrationoflove.tokyo. Thank you.