Week 4: Religion in Japan April 27-May 3

Week 4 Religion in Japan

Reading: Understanding Japan: Part Three: Religion in Japan

  • Chapter Six: Social Concerns
  • Chapter Seven: Main Religions in Japan

Visit a Japanese Church

  • (If that is not possible, interview someone who has attended.)

Writing: Weekly Paper: “Impressions and Points from Your Reading”

  • Reflective Writing
  • Read as many of the other students’ writings as you have time and comment on at least two of them.

Pray:

  • Pray daily for Japan and Japanese, using Operation Japan. Make a note in your blog concerning the information and/or your prayer.

Extra Suggestions:

Discussion

  • 2

    Week 4 - Brandalyn

    Brandalyn
    Reply

    My heart has been broken over the last year or so as I have learned the history of Christianity in Japan! The great dis-service done to the name of God by early missionaries and colonial powers who, in times of distress, implied or outright stated that the missionaries had been planted within the Japanese nation to be able to take over and create an uprising from within! Talk about a way to set a nation against your God (clearly this kind of act shows humans and human desires being more prominent than surrender to the gospel of the Lord!). I got particularly captured with the concept of indigenous Christianity last year while living with kanako and her family for 2.5 months and wanting to talk to her extended family about their beliefs and about the God of the Bible. I learned very quickly that you can’t just start with a salvation tract, because, given the different worldviews, we are not starting on the same footing. I am not coming from a polytheistic worldview where it isn’t obvious that God is the #1 ultimate creator God, I am not coming from a shame-based society where the concepts of sin and guilt are perceived differently than in Canada. As discouraging as this was in the short-term to keep me from having more immediate, effective communication, it launched me into this mission for learning and identifying how to set the right foundations to introduce the creator God of heaven, ruler over all. I get very excited, because I can see so many elements of Japanese culture, religion and society that seem to be “paving the way” to make the concepts of Christ and his redemption on the cross understandable for Japanese. I feel so strongly that the Japanese need a Japanese Christ and not a north american one. The concepts of the gospel and Christ need to be presented and understood in the context of their personal and cultural needs and desires – Christ needs to be the answer to the hole in our hearts – not convincing people that they have different needs and different holes. I have had great conversations about this with kanako over the months and it is exciting. Every culture seems to recognize their need to be better, to be purified in some way, but they all have a different way of trying to achieve that. I think that a Japanese gospel addresses so many great needs – and it makes me laugh that missionaries bring western Christianity to nations, because we, ourselves, got our Christianity from the Jewish nation in Israel! Our bibles aren’t originally English! They’re originally Hebrew and Greek! I guess that is another reason that I get very excited about the historical links that seem to be there between the Japanese and the Jews – because the connection has nothing to do with north america – nor should it!

    With regard to Japanese church. I have been to a few different Japanese churches – a number of Salvation Army churches in Kyoto, Fukuoka, Okayama, and at least one international church in Okayama. I was generally surprised by how similar they were to our churches back home in Canada – I knew many of the same song and they often shared a common style. (This is not atypical in The Salvation Army as we are replicated around the world, sharing songbooks and uniforms and many styles of how we do church and ministry). I was surprised in speaking at length to the pastors about how the challenges of the Japanese church seem to comparable to the challenges of our churches here in Canada. We share similar demographic challenges, similar engagement challenges, similar social problems that we long to address, similar luke-warm apathy of many. I guess I hadn’t expected it to be so similar to the situation in my own home community. I know from attending churches and speaking to pastors that many of the church leaders are older (most of my salvation army pastor friends are retired but are back leading churches because there are no other option, but that quote out of the book that there are more pastors over 80 than under 30 is striking!

    If anyone is wanting to watch a service, last night I was given (from a pastor friend) the link to the Japanese Salvation Army leadership’s online church broadcast on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyhfALdLue0&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR1pFCMsA1PuVm2vbdHGFZkY1U7jW9TPgpNkhEV4Ubqlgyw2pWMlJez99FY

    • Brandalyn

      The first half of this post accidentally got posted into the wrong week! Sorry! I can’t seem to delete it and so I will post my actual thoughts from this week’s reading here as a response. I have been absolutely floored to learn about the schoolgirl prostitution! “Tokyo Metropolitan University sociologist, Miyadi Shinji, estimates that 8% of school girls in Japan and one third of all girls who do not go to college, join the sex industry.” This absolutely blows my mind! Especially given the respectful and proper culture of Japan – it just doesn’t seem to fit and bends my brain so much!!!

      Child abuse has been another one that really surprised me when I learned about its prevalence last year. My focus in life is on orphaned and vulnerable children and so I continue that in Japan as well. While attending a foster care symposium in Okayama I was blown away to learn the prevalence of domestic abuse and child abuse. Again, I just never expected that much of it in japan.

      The homeless has been a big topic of research and discussion for me because I have almost NEVER seen identifiable homeless people in Japan. The information in this week’s reading seems consistent with what I have gleaned from discussions with pastors – many of the homeless are older, but they don’t look disheveled and homeless as many of ours do in the USA and Canada and they told me that I would only see them sleeping out of doors if I was in the right areas during the later evening hours.

      Something that has been discouraging to me has been asking my various Japanese friends about the social ills like child abuse, children who can’t live with parents, foster care, orphanages, homeless and NO ONE seems to know what happens to these people, how they are cared for. Everyone answers “I don’t know.” I think that is concerning when these problems don’t seem to be on the radar of any of my Japanese friends (between the ages of 20-50).

      Re: Religions in Japan – I was intrigued to learn of the state of Islam in Japan. I have wondered about that. I have not yet seen a mosque in Japan that I was aware was a mosque. Over the last 10 months I have been doing extensive research about the different religions in Japan to try to understand the Japanese people’s belief systems and observances/traditions, and the meanings behind them. The prevalent thought for me has been my many questions to Japanese friends (and watching video interviews and similar accounts from others) about what they believe. Japanese seem to always say they have no religious beliefs or are “not religious.” As I have spent time in Japan with Kanako and her family I have told Kanako that she and the people in her country are the most “religious” people I have ever encountered. They may not know or remember the reasons why they are doing what they do, but on a monthly (or not bi-weekly basis) they seem to be doing something as a nation or as a community that is a religious tradition – nearly every festival or special event has a religious foundation. It has provided great opportunities for conversations about it. It has also motivated me to pray diligently for this nation that i love, because I see what I believe to be such deep and dangerous spiritual blindness and deception. Some activities and traditions may have little spiritual impact, but some – like dedicating of children for the san, go nanan rites I think have HUGE spiritual implications. Many of the spiritual acts, over time, have (it seems), lost their spiritual meaning to the people and in a practical sense, have just become traditions. But it doesn’t change the facts of what is being done and said during these traditions. I don’t think that it matters a whole lot how aware and invested you are in the spiritual meanings of some of the worship and dedication acts that you commit when you are going through and saying and doing the things that commit yourself, your children, or your nation to a spiritual power. It seems very real and very scary! I pray so much for the nation and for my friends that they would not be held in spiritual bondage to things that they don’t even recognize. I pray for an opening of eyes and awakening to the spiritual realities. That will be this week’s prayer focus I think!

    • Naoko Brown

      There is only a very fine line between some innocent cultural rituals and spiritually involved activities. We want to appreciate beauty of each culture , but we do not want to be like Solomon who sin against God by being involved in pagan religious activities because of his foreign wives. When we went to Ise Grand Shrine last year with our Japanese friends, we followed their way and bowed down at each Tori gate and throw money into the box in order not to offend our Japanese friends. But it was awkward throughout the time. Our friends were so happy to show us their beloved shrine. As we enjoy our lunch by the shrine, I was thinking, “how do we share the Gospel with them now…?” Lord, help us to have discernment, boldness and compassion in each situation, and please help us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

  • 0

    PRAYER FOR NIIGATA SCHOOLS

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    Pray that at Keiwa Gakuen, with its 1,252 students, many will become aware of their need for Jesus Christ. Also, pray that more Christian schools would be established.

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this opportunity to pray for the schools in Niigata, especially for the schools at Keiwas Gakuen, I pray that God would intervene the spiritual condition of the students at these schools, I pray for many young students may take the responsibility to reach their classmates and friends, give them courage, and a strong faith to do that, Lord I pray that to rise up a greneration that will stand for the Jesus and take the gospel to the unreached, Lord I pray that these schools will become a center for missions and evangelism, please rise many workers to reach the young people in this region, thank you Lord for answering my prayer, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • 0

    PRAYER FOR NIIGATA'S UNDERCHURCHED AREAS

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    PRAYER FOR NIIGATA’S UNDERCHURCHED AREAS, APRIL 28

    Agano City, with 43,421 people, has no church. Tsubame (79,814), Itoigawa (44,161), Mitsuke (40,620), and Tainai (30,209) have only one church each.

    There does not seem to be any Protestant social welfare ministries here. There is a Catholic ministry in Joetsu City that ministers to 20 mothers and children and an orphanage in Mitsuke City for 36 children. Pray that the 93 churches will actively represent Christ’s love to the needy here.

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to pray for the unreached places in Niigata, there is a great need, need many more churches to be planted, there is great need of workers to reach these unreached places with the gospel, Lord please rise up the workers, please use these 93 churches take the gospel to the unreached, rise up young people and families with great faith and passion for the Lord to share the gospel to the least reached, God bless the churches that are already there, provide all their needs, bless the leadership, and also pray for more social welfare program would be started in these places, please bless the work which they are already doing, I pray that Lord you may bring a great revival in this region, I believe you will do it my Lord, thank you so much for listening to my prayer, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • 0

    Pray for Niigata: The people who suffered both earthquakes in 2004 and 2007:

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    PRAYER FOR NIIGATA, APRIL 29

    Pray for the many who suffered because of the October 23, 2004 earthquake. There were 21 fatalities, 1,900 injured and 60,000 unable to return to their homes.

    Again on July 16, 2007, Niigata was hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake with five deaths and 630 people injured. At least one church was also destroyed.

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for allowing me to pray for the families that were hit by the earthquake, Father I do not exactly what is their situation now, but Lord you know it, I pray that you would help them and bring comfort and consolation to the families that survived both of these earthquakes, I pray that this would be an opportunity to bring the gospel message to them and they may receive it, they may open their hearts, they may open their houses for missionaries to pray and share with them the love of Christ, Lord please rise up a generation to take the gospel to the families that are still going through the effect of those earthquakes, Lord please help these people and your kingdom may come to this community and they experience the love of Christ, you are a God heals the sick and binds the wounds of the broken, I trust you that you will glorify in everything you do my Lord, thank you so much for listening to my prayer, in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

  • 0

    PRAYER FOR WORLD RELIEF MINISTRIES

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    PRAYER FOR WORLD RELIEF MINISTRIES, APRIL 30

    The Japan Evangelical Association’s (JEA)
    Relief and Development Commission makes special appeals to the JEA churches to help in domestic and international relief efforts, and distributes the monies through evangelical organizations in the area.

    Gracious Father, I am grateful to you for allowing me to pray for the worlds relief ministries in Japan, I pray that this ministry would be a channel that will help to connect with different communities and people where there will be an opportunity to minister to them the love of Christ, I pray for those people that are carrying on this work, Lord grant them wisdom, and strength, keep them safe in the pandemic, situation, I pray that to bless this effort so that your kingdom be extended through this ministry, thank you so much for the vision and commitment of those are undertaking this project, God bless this ministry, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • 2

    Weekly Reading Report: Japan Social Concerns and Main Religions:

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    Japan Social Concerns and Main Religions:

    It is quite interesting to notice how sexual sins devastate the nations around the world, and Japan falls into one of the top lists. When I was on the MV Doulos (OM Ships’ Ministries) we had the privilege to visit Thailand, one of the places where we docked was Sattahip, when we were in Sattahip, they told us that we need to be quite careful, that there is a place in Thailand called Pattaya, a center for prostitution, which was not very far from where we were docked, one of the main incomes comes to the country is from this place!!!
    For me it was very shocking, but when was I reading the 6th chapter of this book, I was even more shocked to know the condition of Japan in regards to the sex industry. The way they produce pornographic movies and videos, books and magazines, and the growth of sex trafficking, child pornography, cyberporn, and other forms of sexual behaviors like groping and underage sexual relationships, many young girls from the schools end up in prostitution, that is destroying the society. People do not want to marry and have a normal married life, they are not interested to have children, divorce is increasing, families are falling apart, digital crime and misuse of media are increasing, many young children are targeted and young girls are missing their focus from studies to getting some easy money by offering themselves to prostitution. They say that because of the enormous amount of stress from the workload and other pressures from the society leading people after sexual pleasures and entertainment! I understand this is really demonic! He is destroying the country, the younger generation, families, and future of the nation, and many are falling into his trap!
    Another great concern is the young children that are going through bullying and physical and mental abuse, they are under lots of stress, many fall into isolation, many young people commit suicide, and it is really a great concern, the high demand of the system of education, family pressure, due to the high pressure of the parents and schools, many young people isolate themselves from everyone for many months and even years! It is also sad to see that how many people lose their lives and families due to gambling and the increasing amount of the suicide rate is quite shocking too.
    Another shocking thing for me to see how many homeless people in the streets and parks and other open places! Many are jobless, they lost their identity, they are unable to get new jobs, and low self-esteem and various discriminations make people’s life miserable! They need to hear the gospel, the Lord who cares for everyone regardless of who they are, Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. Only Jesus can meet their needs, they have to come to him or loving Christian brothers and sisters to bring them to Christ.
    Main Religions in Japan:
    It is quite interesting to notice that many of the Japanese’ religions do not have a structure or scripture, like Hinduism. I think it is easier to share the gospel when they say that they are not religious or belong to a particular religion because we do not present Christianity as a religion though it is widely known as one of the growing religions in the world. Having a non-religious mindset may allow an opportunity to share our experience with the Lord, as we know our testimony plays a key role in evangelism. And also Japanese people willing to attend a religious activity without being part of it also gives us an opportunity to build friendships and get connected to them, I think inviting Japanese friends to various activities may be a good way to build a friendship with them. It is good to know that Japanese people have religious sentiment, like the Indian Hindus, they have a deeper sentiment in regards to their religion, they respect all the religion, they have no issues to hear Jesus is one of the gods because they were quite pious and religious, we can share the gospel with them, as long as we are not emphasizing Jesus is the only God, who can save you, then the question comes, why can’t our 33 millions of gods and goddesses cannot save, sometime it may lead to an argument, so we need to be careful the way we present the gospel to them, I believe the same with the Japanese people, we will have an opportunity to share the gospel with them since they are religiously sentimental.
    We also need to be careful the way we present the gospel, our testimony is also important, it is very sad to notice that how they see the Christian activities and proclamation of the gospel, Jesus said to go and preach the gospel to every nation, the same time he said, you need to be wise and the serpent and innocent as a dove. Maintaining a pure life and presenting carefully the gospel, both are inevitable.
    I believe prayer and study of the Scripture are very vital wherever we go for the mission, the Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and the right word to speak, Jesus said, do not worry about what to say, you will be given at the right time, through building friendship and continuous follow-up, we will be able to see the fruits. Though the Japanese have a long root in the national religions, Shintoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, we have to be sure that we are sent by the Lord Jesus for a mission, we have to trust Him and follow His leads. As Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day” John 6:44.
    It is quite interesting to know that Shintoism does not have a founder or a written Text, just like Hinduism. It was the first time I was reading about Shintoism in an elaborated manner, I was able to learn many new things about this religion, especially about kami. One of the things I noticed was that the strong emphasis of extreme cleanliness in Japan was the result of practicing the Kami based religious view because they emphasized more of the outward things than inside.
    There are many things similar to Hinduism, they worship the spirit, they offer things to spirit, they have to please the spirit or any deities that they worship, if not they believe, it may curse them and even punish them, they believe in the ancestor’s spirit, they do many ceremonies to make the spirit at peace after the death, every year the Hindus do various rituals and ceremonies in order to please the spirit, Hindus believe the person would be reborn again according to what he has done in the next life, but Shintoism teaches that people will spend their time on the mountain after their death. Hindus also do various kinds of worship and ceremonies for good jobs, for children, for success in the business, etc… they have many gods and goddesses according to their needs, and it is interesting to see that Shintoism also has many millions of gods and goddesses. I wonder if they have any images of many gods in Shintoism as Hindus have on their deities. It is also very important to notice how different our Christian faith from this spirit-filled religion!
    It is quite shocking to see the number of people that follow Buddhism in Japan, though Buddhism was founded in India, it took a root in various Asian countries rapidly and much deeper level. Buddhism deals with the mind and the inward things and Shintoism deals with outward things, they quite complement each other. It is also interesting to notice how Confucianism took root in the lives of the Japanese people, the philosophy that molded the lifestyle of Japanese people, though it was originated in China, it had deeply influenced Japan. It was also interesting to notice how Buddhism and Confucianism supported each other when Buddhism gave some ideas on taking care of the mind, Confucianism gave ideas to ethical life, family life, how the society should function and so on… but they emphasized more about the present life than life after death.
    It is interesting to notice that though Islam had a long time presence in Japan and it did not grow as other religions. But it is important to see that the Muslim community all over the world is growing, faster than the Christians. Judaism also the same that though they say it had a long time presence, it did not make a big impact in Japan it could due to the exclusivity of the nature of the religion itself.

    I am looking forward to the furthering chapters to know how better we can communicate the gospel to these needy people who have a very deep religious-oriented culture and lif-style.

    • Brandalyn

      Yes, I think the lack of structure for many Japanese religions is so interesting and strange for us. It definitely seems to be an insight into the people and the culture and the thoughts/needs. I have found that it makes Christianity quite a barrier when there are definite boundaries and it isn’t OK to just add Christ and God the father to the list of gods and religious rituals.

    • Naoko Brown

      One of the biggest questions Japanese non-believers would ask is “Where did my grandma go after she died?” It’s a tough one to answer!

  • 3

    Alma Bermejo - Visit a Japanese Church

    almabermejo
    Reply

    I have served in Japan for several years, therefore I have had the opportunity to serve and visit different types of churches.

    In 2003, when I first came I served in an international church in Chiba Prefecture, the service was in English with Japanese interpretation, the pastor was from Singapore. Then in 2008 I attended an international church for 2 years in Sapporo City, the pastor is from the USA, the service was in English with Japanese interpretation. Now I attend an international church with services in Japanese with English translation, the pastor is a Japanese from Osaka. But also I have attended churches whose pastors speak Japanese only.

    Each church has a unique flavor, and a way to do things but in general I can tell mention a few things that have in common:

    1. Praise and worship is about 4 songs
    2. The preaching last about 30 minutes
    3. After the message, most members stay back and eat together. They bring homemade food (bento) or buy something in a convenient store.
    4. After the meal and fellowship time, there are more activities, such as youth meetings, discipleship classes, different types of training, staff meetings, praise, and worship practice for the following Sunday, counseling, etc.
    5. Everything ends around 5 PM

    International churches have a faster pace, people of all ages attend and they have lost of young people from different nations, they are normally students. These kinds of churches are bigger in number. Japanese only speaking churches are smaller in number and older people attend mostly. There are very few children or none.

    • Brandalyn

      Something you mentioned that I hadn’t otherwise thought of i the after-church fellowship and meal. Almost every time we have attended a Japanese church we have stayed for a post-service meal. I do think that this is a fantastic way of building community and relationship (even people in Canada comment on how much they appreciate it and how good it is for the church family when we do after-church lunches). I have appreciated it as it has really given us an opportunity to meet and talk with people when we come to church. It isn’t as easy to just show up and leave and not connect. I hope that it is the same for Japanese who go and not just us intriguing and interested foreigners!

    • Emily Frey

      We visited a Japanese church in Osaka and so many things were so very different. As foreign visitors, the welcome felt strange and forced–like the Japanese were trying to imitate Western hospitality and it wasn’t working because it was not natural to them. It was definitely an older, working crowd in the city or desperate single moms. I noticed little or no children, except for maybe those of the ministry workers. There was a Sunday School for children but, again, it seemed like the church was trying to imitate the appearance of Western church but it didn’t fit. The worship service was all in Japanese so we had to use translators during the whole service, which was complicated. The worship included songs I knew in the native language and with a Japanese flair. The most surprising part of the experience for me was the Youth Night. The speaker had this over-the-top, loud Most Extreme Elimination Challenge style of introducing, welcoming, giving announcements, and engaging people in activities. There may even have been a gong. It felt very put on and showy, in a way that did not attract me. All of the music leaders on the stage were trying to pump the crowd for him. So weird. I guess that is culturally appealing but it was a totally weird way for me to experience church!

    • Shibu AV

      I had the opportunity to visit a few churches in Japan in 2006, I had the privilege to preach and encourage the community of believers, around 85% of them were elderly people. After the meeting there was a beautiful meal served for everyone, we had a great fellowship with the Pastor and family and also the believers, we took lots of pictures.

      It is also interesting to see the transition, you had a church with a Pastor from Singapore, and then from USA, and now you have a Pastor who is a Japanese, this is our prayer that many churched would be planted by the local believers.

  • 0

    Emily's Notes on Japanese Religion

    Emily Frey
    Reply

    The whole time I was reading about social concerns in Japan from Chapter Six, I could only wonder what an American comparison would look like. I don’t feel our social concerns are that different, more or less exacerbated. Pornography, sex trafficking, and under-age sexual relationships in Japan may be slightly more acceptable to widespread society and cultural values as a form of entertainment than in the U.S. However, gambling, suicide, homelessness, even child abuse and bullying are major issues for our society.
    So Japan historically has assimilated a myriad of religious beliefs that exist as the following: three manifestations of Shinto beliefs, practical beliefs in kami and tama, Buddhist temples and butsudan house altars, and Confucian philosophies that influence home roles and responsibilities, and several regular shinko shukyo new cult religions. Its so interesting to me how syncretistic Christianity could be with Confucianism. There are so many shared beliefs and values between these two in particular. For example, Confucianism includes strong family ethics and structures, roles and responsibilities by gender, social ethic, and a scholarly tradition, and way of life. Lee says Confucian beliefs emphasized “family, paternalism, harmony, and hierarchy…”. Many of these same values and roles can be seen among conservative and fundamental Christians today.
    My first experience in visiting a Japanese church was in the Fellowship Hall of my very own church building as I witnessed a gathering of the only Japanese Language Church of Oklahoma. These were Japanese families living in the U.S., mostly immigrants and first generation children and grandchildren. My second and third experiences were in-culture in Osaka at Jesus House and Lifehouse. My fourth experience this week was online with Mustard Seed Christian Church Kobe. Except for Jesus House, all the services were bilingual. Except for Life House, all the services were led by native Japanese pastors.
    The Mustard Seed church service included popular bilingual worship songs and teaching from Proverbs on Wisdom and wise words. The teaching was done first in Japanese by a Japanese pastor and then translated to English by an American. The teacher started by connecting with his audience on all the confusion in our daily lives dealing with the corona-virus. Such good truths and so applicable and Japanese-friendly. The teaching pastor seemed knowledgeable and helpful in translating the Scriptures, while offering practical applications. There was a definite sharing of the Gospel and offer to receive life in Christ. There was an interesting picture of how Christ grows in our lives as a believer. It was interesting that the Teacher encouraged participants watching from home to use the opportunity to openly worship without insecurity. Also, at the end, he prayed that the people would be honest with God about where they obtained wisdom and in speaking to God. I do wonder what young people would think of the informal setting and dress in worship, and the physical size difference of the American interpreter and Japanese teacher. I shared the link with my Homestay student after our conversation this week! Excited to hear her thoughts next week.

  • 0

    PRAYER FOR PRISON MINISTRIES IN JAPAN

    Shibu AV
    Reply

    PRAYER FOR PRISON MINISTRIES IN JAPAN, MAY 2
    Pray that those in prison in Japan will hear the gospel and understand His freedom. Compared to other countries Japan’s incarceration rate is quite low.

    Pray that the penal system will be modified in such a way that it will be easier for gospel witness to take place.

    Although each institution is different, volunteer chaplains are often only allowed to visit monthly and contact only a select number of prisoners. In spite of stringent regulations and a harsh prison regime, God has been answering prayer and prisoners are coming to Christ in prisons all around Japan — not in big numbers at one time, but ones and twos here and there, which is amazing under the conditions.

    Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much fr the opportunity to pray for the prison ministries in Japan, Lord I pray that there will be more opportunities to visit these prisons and share the gospel to the prisoners, pray that many prisoners would turn to Christ, and they will experience the real freedom in Jesus, Lord I pray for the authority that they ease the law and order in regards to letting the evangelists to visiting the prisons so that they will have more opportunities to visit the prisoners often and share the gospel with them, Lord bless all the ministry groups that are taking the initiative to visit the prisons to share the gospel and use them mightily and protect them, Lord, I pray that they will see a great result from this ministry, thank you Lord for listening to my prayer, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

  • 2

    Lily - Week 4: Religions in Japan

    Amarilys Vega
    Reply

    It was interesting to read about all these religions and beliefs, I was familiar with Buddhism and Confucianism because of many Chinese people in my country they follow these religions and they have their temples here. But it was something new for me the Shintoism beliefs.

    In my country, some people believe that their dead relatives visit them in spirit, and some people make fun of it, but when I read the way Japanese people worship their ancestors, they really take it seriously.

    In this mix of religions we can see that many of the things that they do, it is because they want to please the gods or spirits in order to don’t get punished or to don’t make them angry. That reminds me so much about Hinduism as well.

    When we try to please God, we do it out of love, and because we are thankful for all the things that He does for us. But not in their religions, they do it out of fear.

    Something else that it seems similar to Hinduism is that for some of them, Jesus might represent one of the millions of gods. But not the only God. And when you ask the people what are their religions about, they don’t know the bases of their religions and they will say, they believe what they were taught.

    The religion system in Japan is a mix of different believes, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and new religions. With minorities like Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It kept my attention that they also have Pro-Israel Christian Group and wonder if it is the same movement that is going on in Brazil.

    I noticed that in the last few years, there has been a lot of influence through manga, anime, and even when they teach the language, they try to transmit their beliefs. Maybe it was happening before, but in the last few years, there has been more emphasis than before.

    I’m glad that we get to study all these things, in order to understand Japanese people in a better way and I guess it takes a lot of patience and many prayers to see them coming out of those beliefs. But it is beautiful when God takes people from those kinds of backgrounds to glorify His name. For the Lord nothing is impossible.

    • Shibu AV

      It is important as Lily says, that we have to be sensitive and careful in sharing the love of God with people that have more options to embrace, rather than being judgmental. As we see the growth of many new age religious groups, we need God’s wisdom and fresh anointing to bring the gospel to them, it is a tough job, but the Lord will help the people that are committed to calling.

    • Naoko Brown

      It is indeed takes a lot of patience and prayers to bring people to Christ. And indeed it is beautiful when God takes people from different backgrounds to glorify His name!