Mission to Japan – Japan is the largest unevangelized nation that is completely open to missionaries. Yet, due to spiritual, socio-cultural, linguistic and financial difficulties, becoming an effective minister of the gospel is a long, hard process of adaptation.
a) Cooperation among mission agencies has been limited in the past and, while improved, still needs greater unity today. JEMA is a coordinating body for 46 mission organizations, representing over 1,100 missionaries. Most are involved in church planting and evangelism, but real church growth is elusive. Pray for strategic insight, for the anointing of the Spirit and for fruitful collaboration. The profusion of agencies and nationalities defies listing here. Largest missions: OMF, TEAM, Pac Rim/IMB, SEND, JCCC(CCCI), MTW), BIM, Asian Access, Every Nation, UMC, WEC, AoG USA, Mission to Unreached Peoplesand Navigators.
b) Opportunities for missionary service are many, the most needful being evangelism, teaching, and planting and serving churches. Many missionaries are involved with existing congregations, assisting them to become reproductive through church planting and discipleship training. Teaching English is a wide-open door for tentmakers, with hundreds if not thousands of positions available. Long-term missionaries are the greater need because of the years needed to acquire the language and understand the culture.
c) The growing contribution of Korean missionaries is remarkable in light of historic animosities; they need special prayer cover to adapt well and have effective ministries.
d) Japanese returnees who became believers overseas are a hugely strategic group. Over a million Japanese live abroad; their numbers are greatest in the USA, Brazil and China. Every year, over 1,600 return home having encountered Jesus, many with a missional burden for their homeland. Japanese who return home having become Christians abroad struggle to integrate into the native church scene. Japanese Christian Fellowship Network, Japan Christian Link, Reaching Japanese for Christ, Friends International UK and several other ministries focus on this challenge. Pray for good coordination between ministries reaching Japanese abroad and those helping returnees to reintegrate into Japanese life. Pray for returning Christians to have a major impact on church life.
The less-evangelized areas and peoples of Japan:
a) There are 24 cities in Japan with no church at all, including Akabira, Utashinai, Obanazawa, Mino, Motosu, Inabe, Akitakata, Matsuura, Kamiamakusa and Kaseda. Of the 1,020 towns and villages, 595 have no church. Pray for a church planting movement that will penetrate these unreached areas.
b) Numerous rural areas are scarcely touched with the gospel. The Japanese Church has little vision for reaching out to the many towns with minimal or no Christian presence.
c) The ruling elite have been minimally influenced by the gospel. Pray for the emperor and royal family, cocooned in tradition and committed, by their position, to Shintoism. Pray for politicians and businessmen, those in control of finance and industry who have such global impact. There are some ministries aimed at them; the most dynamic among these is the VIP Club.
d) Koreans are descendants of those forcibly taken to Japan between 1903 and 1945. They are generally poorly treated and are classified as resident aliens – even into their third and fourth generations. The Korean community is sharply divided in their allegiance to either North or South Korea. South Korean missionaries have planted over 500 churches among them, but the percentage of Christians is lower than that of South Korea.
e) Chinese, who number 25,000, but perhaps twice that when including illegal immigrants. There are about 30 Chinese churches only, with fewer than 2,000 believers. Japan probably has the least-evangelized Chinese population of almost any nation. OMF and AoG are just two of the agencies focused on them.
f) The Ainu, ethnically unrelated to the Japanese, first settled in north Japan. They number as few as 25,000, and their heritage is at risk of extinction. The number of Ainu believers (if any) is unknown, and specific outreach is necessary.
g) Exploited women and their exploiters. The yakuza criminal network has actively imported 200,000 foreign women to become sex-slaves, usually through debt bondage. There are an estimated 100,000 Thai and also many Filipina women involved. Sex crimes against children are rapidly rising; Japanese men remain a significant source of the demand for prostitution of women and children across East and Southeast Asia. Child pornography is another polluting and exploitative evil that must be brought down through prayer and action. Pray for this evil system to be halted and for these tragically exploited women and children to be liberated at every level.
h) Muslims have increased through legal and illegal immigration of Bangladeshis, Malays, Iranians, Pakistanis and others. Some Japanese have become Muslim, largely through marriage. Little is being done to reach them.