Sing to the LORD a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it. You islands, and those who dwell on them. Isaiah 42:10
New Life for JapanJapan is an island nation at the eastern edge of the Asian continent with a population of one hundred and twenty-eight million people. Situated within the 10/40 Window, less than 2% of the Japanese people have a living faith in Jesus Christ--this makes them one of the largest unreached people groups in the world!
Japan's main religions are Buddhism and Shinto, although most Japanese are pragmatic and pluralistic when it comes to their personal beliefs. This makes evangelism in Japan especially difficult. However, many Japanese will never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel presented in their own language as many towns in Japan don't even have a single church!
However, with twenty years of economic stagnation, an aging population and the difficult recovery from the March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami there are signs of hope for the Japanese people. The Japanese appear to be on the verge of a new openness to the Gospel, and it is time to begin a new investment in reaching the Japanese for the Lord.
PreparationIan Smith has been called by God to share the Gospel with the Japanese people. Ian came to faith in Jesus as a teenager in Olympia WA, and went on to attend the University of Washington in Seattle where he received degrees in Asian Studies and History. Sensing God's call on his life he pursued further studies in Missions at Wheaton College in Illinois. Ian has lived and served in Japan, South Korean and among Bhutanese Nepali refugees in Chicago, IL. In 2012, Ian was commissioned by Converge Worldwide as a career missionary to Japan.
Converge Worldwide has been actively ministering in Japan since 1948. Ian is part of a team of missionaries that have years of fruitful ministry and experience in Japan. Ian works in partnership with the pastors of the Japanese Baptist Church Association with the long term goal of catalyzing new church planting and making disciples. His desire is to see a church planting movement begin among the Japanese.
From 2014 to 2018, Ian spent his first term with Converge in Japan, establishing a foundation of language competence and developing a deeper relationship with Converge's partners in Japan. Ian will begin his second term in Japan starting in June 2019.
OpportunityIn Japan there are many opportunities for pioneering mission work where no one has sown seeds before. Japan is an open country--but unlike its East Asian neighbors, the Japanese people's hearts have not always been open to the Gospel. Historically Japan has proven to be a difficult mission field because of its ethnic and cultural homogeneity and the economic and material prosperity of the people living there. The Japanese have only been receptive to Christian witness three separate times in their history--each of these periods was during a time of turmoil and uncertainty. It appears that Japan is again entering one of these periods.
There is a special opportunity among Japanese young people whom are increasingly becoming dissatisfied and jaded towards the status quo. This current crisis of discontent among Japanese youth is a once in a generation opportunity; there is no telling how long this window will be open. There is also a need for new churches that can integrate 'returnees,' that is, Japanese that have lived and come to Christ outside of Japan.
Oftentimes, these returning Japanese Christians do not find that they are welcome at traditional Japanese churches. These returnees have the potential of being catalysts for reaching their families and neighbors if they are given a nurturing environment in which to develop their gifts and talents for the Kingdom.
- Please pray for Ian's ability to communicate the Gospel clearly in Japanese.
- Pray that Ian's ministry will be fruitful and bring glory to God.