Japan is a high tech society with major struggles with its economy, neighbors and an aging population. It is a picturesque land full of quaint fields, valleys and traditional villages lying just outside some of the world’s largest cities. The Japanese culture is superficially open to the outside world, yet remains highly insular in many ways. On the whole, it is a peaceful society which emphasizes outward order and frowns upon trouble making of any description.
Buddhism and Shinto are the main religions here. They both have shaped the culture and thinking of the population. Shinto superstition and Buddhist disassociation from the world keep most Japanese largely content to live in their own private world without the need to question whether their ideas or ways are right or wrong. Japan has been highly resistant to the absolute claims of Jesus and the bible. In fact the most common response when trying to share our faith with people here is
- “I’m Buddhist” (= I couldn’t possibly consider what you are saying)”
- “It is scary” (although puzzling to me at first, Asia has so many cults that people fear any contact with religion at all) and
- “It is too difficult” (= There is no need to think seriously about anything outside our own circle)”.
Of course by God’s grace, the gospel has reached many here in the past and still continues to reach those who listen to their consciences. Though less than one percent of the population, there are still Christians and churches scattered throughout the county.
Japan has been seriously shaken of late through continual natural disasters and the threat of trouble with China and Korea. It is our prayer that through these shakings, some will look for answers and receive the truth with joy. Finally, the influence of the culture upon the church is limiting. Sharing the gospel by its very nature causes trouble. This is hard for believers here. Few Christians actively share their faith with friends of strangers. The society tends to be based upon the circle. If you are not in the circle people have little trust in you. We continually pray for wisdom concerning how much ‘circle building’ is necessary for sharing our faith, and how much of it is wasting time. This is a serious question for evangelism in Japan.
Please pray for:
- The Lord's name is Glorified in Japan and for revival.
- Boldness for Japanese believers to share their faith, which is particularly difficult in this society.