Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pray for Japan! Reaching the Unreached.

In 1974 missiologist Ralph Winter presented a paper at the first Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization that revolutionized missions. Rather than looking at the world with geo-political boundaries, Winter encouraged missionaries to gain an awareness People Groups. Theologically and practically speaking, it was a huge oversight.

Source: Flickr
There are over 10,000 people groups in the world. What was so revolutionary about what Ralph presented at Lausanne was that he made the bold suggestion that we should be investing our resources in reaching those who had the least access to the Gospel--that is, "unreached people groups."Since 1974, entire missions organizations have been founded with this pursuit in mind--other existing organizations and denominational mission boards have refocused their efforts on reaching the least evangelized peoples.

Japan, while being a geo-political nation-state is also the home of over 128 million Japanese--of whom less than 1% know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Japan is not entirely homogenous--it is the home of substantial minorities of Korean, Brazilian and Chinese diaspora. There are also indigenous minorities like the Ainu, Ryukyuans and Burakumin (similar to the untouchable caste in India). Often there are more Christians among these minorities per-capita than among the Japanese.

Around the world more and more of these unreached people groups are being reached with the Gospel. Amazing work is being done to translate the bible into languages that have never been put in writing before. God is doing astounding things in places that many people thought impossible to do ministry.

With all that being said, Japan continues to be a difficult and demanding mission field. In spite of over one-hundred years of Protestant mission work in Japan, less than one-percent of the Japanese have responded to the Gospel. There are many reasons for this--both spiritual and social reasons. However, something very few people are aware of is that the church is actually losing ground in Japan.

This year more churches closed than opened, less people attended a church or a sunday school--statistics across the board show a decline in the Japanese church. Pastors are retiring, churches are closing, older Christians are entering eternity. One of the most difficult realities to face is that less and less missionaries are going to Japan--even if they are called, often the financial and cultural hurdles of serving in Japan are just too high. Pray for Japan! Pray for a revival among Japanese Christians. Pray for more Christians to answer the call to missions among the Japanese. Pray for more churches and individuals to see the need and support missionaries with prayer and finances.

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