It’s Important to Reach the Youth in Japan!


NOTE: This is an updated version of an article I originally wrote for the Summer 2016 edition of Japan Harvest, the magazine of the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association. I rewrote some bits and added some pictures to make this more interesting to the people who know me. If you read it please leave a comment!


youthBetween the ages of about 12 and 22, people go through a unique season of life where they make important decisions which will impact the rest of their lives. Through their time in high school and university they are being formed and trained systematically. The values taught by their teachers and professors eventually become the values of the nation, as they grow into law-makers, authors, entertainers, teachers, or otherwise influencers in the community. There is no question that the youth in our campuses now are the future leaders of society. Because young people naturally tend to be less set in their ways and more open about spiritual things, the campus age is the best time to present important values.This is the time when young leaders should be considering foundations and making decisions for their future career, relationship, and most importantly their eternal purpose and relationship to the Creator.  In this age of constant online entertainment it is easier than ever for Japanese youth to float through school without ever thinking about the meaning of life. But if we want to reach Japan and see the good news spread, it is vital that we are fully engaged in presenting the gospel to the youth. Every focused and driven leader was once a young person searching for meaning and truth. And the older I get the shorter this opportune season of openness seems to last. They don’t stay young for long.

william clarkA classic example of the value of reaching young people for Christ is the work of Professor William S. Clark, who remains a national figure in Japan even to this day. He was in Sapporo for only eight months from 1876 to 1877 working at what is now Hokkaido University. But during his short time there he prayerfully poured his life into a handful of students. These young men went on to influence Japanese Christianity and Japanese society for generations to come.

Sadly though, the key demographic of campus aged youth is often conspicuously absent from our local churches in Japan today. One Japanese pastor, a mentor of mine in his 80s, shared his concern about this with me. He encouraged me not to give up on reaching out to the youth because they are the future of the church. I am convinced that he was right. When we invest in the youth we are really investing in the future of the church.


There is a new type of church in Japan now that focuses on young people. Many of the fastest growing churches in Japan fall into this category. They focus on creating an atmosphere which is easy for young people to enjoy. They use the same cutting-edge lighting and video that one would expect to see at a J-Pop concert. Their leaders purposefully dress and talk in ways that appeal to the sensibilities of young working professionals and university students. Before each service, youth in their teens and 20s gather expectantly and countdown the seconds until the worship music begins. They are excited about their faith and they show it in their enthusiastic praise and worship time.

In our furoshiki (wrapping cloth) culture we know that the wrapping is almost as important as the gift inside. So it’s not surprising that Japanese youth appreciate an attractively packaged worship service. We do well if we engage young people where they are; whether it is through their music, or on their campuses, or through life testimonies from their popular heroes. But engaging them with an attractive “wrapping” on the gift of the gospel is just the first step.

They may not express it out loud, they might not even be consciously aware of it, but what young people are really hungry for is a deep connection with God. So how do we get them there? An article published by a church research company in the United States a few years ago claims that those young people who have personal relationship to a pastor are twice as likely to stay in church, and that those who have a relationship with a mentor in the church are much more likely to stay. Relationships are important and even more important in Japan than they are in many other countries. Building deeper relationships with our youth is the first step in moving them to a deeper relationship with God. So our worship services should certainly be “packaged” as high-quality and attractive, but in the long run discipleship-centered relationships are the most vitally important thing in our churches. As new youth are added to our church, our primary responsibility is to build these relationships


small groupThe best way our Every Nation churches have found to reach Japanese youth and build mentoring relationships is by using small group ministry. We have worked hard to make small groups simple and easy to lead so that young leaders can do the work of the ministry. Both outreach and discipleship can and should happen through small groups. First, young believers can pray for their classmates, friends and relatives. We encourage them to start doing this as soon as they themselves are saved. Sometimes the most enthusiastic evangelist is the one who is a brand new believer. After all, if you know what Jesus did for you then you already know enough to pray for someone else.

In small groups, discipleship happens through discussion around what the church is learning from the Bible and how to apply it personally. Because they are praying and encouraging each other to reach out, more young people get saved. As these newer ones are added the leaders have to learn how to mentor and lead them. They have to learn to minister to others.They have to learn to make disciples. Our Japanese churches have many young people, but only because at some point someone took a chance and empowered them to lead. Someone took a chance on me when I was younger and that is why I am a church planter today. Shouldn’t we be looking for the next generation of leaders too?



The first time I played in a school basketball game I ran onto the court, received a pass, and started dribbling towards the wrong hoop! Fortunately my teammates corrected me and turned me around before things got even more embarrassing. I understood the game well in theory but it was different when I was responsible for the ball in a real game. I know now that if that coach had not taken a risk on me and put me in the game, I would have never really learned how to play basketball. The only way I could learn was by getting in the game and making some mistakes.

All too often in our churches we have believers who sit through years of teaching but who have never really learned how to minister to others. We are ministers today because someone took a chance on us and gave us some responsibility when we were younger. Shouldn’t we also be prayerfully looking for young leaders to put in the game too? Even brand new players become veterans with the proper mentoring relationships. Just imagine a sports team where every single player is only one year away from retirement. The team might look great now but how is the coach going to look next season? He hasn’t spent any time building the rookies and future stars. That coach would probably lose his job!


young-peopleWorking with future leaders takes a lot of time and energy. They can cause problems – especially the first time you try to put them in the game. Young people are naturally inexperienced and they do make mistakes. They might need to be taken out and coached for a while before they become successful team players. I have had people tell me that you can’t build with young people. Young people are irresponsible. Young people don’t make as much money as older members so we should focus on the ones who give more. Young people move away when it’s time to go to college. Or, they move away after they finish college.

Why not just focus on the more mature believers who are more stable? Because the youth are the future of the church that is why!  If we begin to reach them now, revival in Japan is not far off. If we ignore them, we are only robbing from our future. It is vital that we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to build mentoring relationships with the youth that God has entrusted to us in our own context. Will you accept the challenge of equipping and empowering this next generation for the work of the ministry? They don’t stay young for long.

OMF turns 150 today


150 years ago today, after following the call of God to China, James Hudson Taylor founded what would eventually become the Overseas Mission Fellowship. Because he could not bear the thought that millions of people had never heard the Good News about Jesus Christ, he could no longer stay in his comfortable church in England. Someone had to go. The birth of the China Inland Mission and the tireless efforts of Hudson Taylor sparked a modern mission movement that would change history.

The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.
(J. Hudson Taylor)

A little over 28 years ago, I visited Japan for the first time. My initial reason was to see a certain individual Japanese girl who was to become my wife. The call to give my life as a full-time missionary to Japan was more gradual, but sure. About 22 years ago I moved my young family here to Japan permanently because I could no longer stay in my comfortable church in the U.S.A.

Each month, week, and day that goes by brings more conviction from the Holy Spirit that the most important thing I could ever do with my life is to obey the Great Commission and preach the Good News to those who have not understood it.

Some of my greatest living heroes are the missionaries who honor God by following in Hudson Taylor’s footsteps. They go and make disciples in nations that have not yet heard.

On this 150th anniversary of the China Inland Mission and OMF, I pray for a great harvest of souls in Japan and that many millions here will find saving grace and life in Christ. I pray that the hopeless will be lifted out of an empty existence and into a life filled with eternal purpose. I pray that many young Japanese people will hear the same whisper of the Holy Spirit that moved Hudson Taylor to go. That they will hear the same whisper of the Holy Spirit that missionaries, apostles, church-planters, and disciples have heard for over 2000 years now, to go into all the world and make disciples – in Japan, in Asia and everywhere.

“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.”
(J. Hudson Taylor)

Understanding Shinto

NOTE: This is an updated version of my article originally published in the Winter 2014 edition of Japan Harvest, the magazine of the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Association. I am no expert, but then again most Japanese people are not Shinto experts either and this is just an attempt to understand and reach the amazing and wonderful people of Japan. 

IN JAPAN, children grow up hearing ghost stories and attending festivals to honor a world of thousands of kami (spirits), which interacts freely with our own natural world. This mindset is part of everyday culture. So it’s normal for sophisticated and materialistic Japanese adults to say they have no religion, and yet buy omamori (good luck idols) for protection over their car. It’s part of the ordinary process of building to have the land blessed by a Shinto priest before construction begins. It is considered safer to do this to avoid upsetting any spirits who just might be disturbed by the use of the land. How can we effectively reach into a very modern, but obviously Shinto-influenced worldview like this, and become an effective bridge for the Gospel? One of the challenges in reaching any people is to understand them. In this article I will present an overview of Shinto’s influence on the Japan and her people. My goal is to give context to the things in Japanese culture and society that might be puzzling to someone who did not grow up in a Shinto-based culture.

Shinto purification rope

A ritual Shinto rope used to mark the boundary of a purified area

With origins dating to 500 A.D. and earlier, matsuri (festival worship) and other Shinto practices began as ritual worship of the ujigami, or local clan deity in each area and village. They sprang from a type of shamanism unique to these medieval agricultural communities. Over the centuries ancient Shinto was influenced by and syncretized with Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and other elements from continental East Asia.[1]

Jizo (stone idols) and vending machine

Even in big cities stone idols are a common sight on Japanese roads

Many aspects of syncretized Shinto worship practices are common in modern Japan. They are as ubiquitous as the stone idols one sees scattered throughout every town. Surprisingly, most Japanese people do not associate these things with religion at all. Engage a typical Japanese city dweller in conversation about their participation in ceremonies, and worship of idols in shrines, temples, or the family kamidana (household altar) and it will soon become clear that these are seen as essential cultural duties and not as religious. Shinto worship practices are widely seen as traditions that must be followed to honor family and country.[2]

Even “churched” Japanese are not free from the strong cultural influence of Shinto. Earlier this year a Japanese man came to my office asking for donations for a local matsuri (festival). After a brief conversation I discovered that he attends a Protestant church. I asked him why he was raising funds for the mikoshi (portable shrine for carrying a local idol) when the Bible explicitly forbids worshiping idols. His answer was that it was Japanese culture to do so. I continued to press him, explaining my hope that Japanese culture might someday be transformed so that festivals would be held to honor the true Creator God rather than idols, but he didn’t seem to grasp this idea at all. He left a bit disappointed that I would not give an offering, but undaunted in his efforts to raise money for the local matsuri.

Although Shinto has never been codified in the way that Christianity has, there are four affirmations that seem to be generally agreed upon [3] and it’s good to consider how the Bible helps us to respond to each.

Family and tradition

Tradition and family are supremely important in Shinto practice. This is often expressed through ancestor worship and even “tradition-worship”. Of course family is important to God. The Bible teaches us to honor our parents and to give importance to the family, but in Luke 14:26 Jesus clearly set honoring the Lord above all other relationships, even familial ones. I have found that the best way to approach Japanese culture regarding familial relationships is to emphasize that sincerely obeying God is the best way to honor and be a blessing to one’s family, even if it means going against Shinto traditions in some ways.


Another affirmation of Shinto is matsuri to honor local deities or ancestral spirits. Almost every shrine in Japan has its own matsuri, originally held to influence things like the harvest or the local fishing. Christians believe all humans were created to worship and enjoy their creator and the beauty of dance, art, music, ceremony and ritual should all be purposed to honor and thank the true God and true source of blessings. As missionaries and ambassadors of our faith we need to identify and affirm the beauty and harmony in Japanese traditions that can serve to honor God, and at the same time clearly explain why animistic and pantheistic practices are contrary to God’s will. Our human artistic expression echoes the ultimate beauty in Christ, which is what the Japanese heart is really searching for.

Love of nature

Shrine festival worship ties in with the third affirmation of Shinto, which is a love of nature. Scripture tells us that all of creation bears witness to the sovereign power of the Creator. But the Shinto affirmation of nature elevates nature to the point that each unusual rock or tree is given the status of a minor deity. Hence the Japanese saying, there are over eight million gods (yaoyorozu no kami).

Because this spiritual error is deeply ingrained in the Japanese worldview, gospel teachers must clearly preach the words of Christ, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). Without a clear understanding of this Japanese people may believe that Jesus Christ is another one of many gods, but miss that he is the one and only Creator God. Jesus came to affirm the true intended order of the creation by revealing Himself at the pinnacle. If other good things, such as family or nature are elevate above Jesus Christ, they become idols. In essence, the good becomes the enemy of the best. This truth about the ultimate authority of Christ will resound with the strong desire in the Japanese heart for harmony and proper order, if they can only see it. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17 NASB).

Physical cleanliness

Shinto purification

Cold water purification at a Shinto shrine

The final affirmation of Shinto is physical cleanliness. Taking baths, washing the hands, and rinsing out the mouth are all encouraged because of Shinto’s emphasis on ritual purity. In the past, believers practiced misogi, ritual bathing in a river near the shrine. In recent years it is more common to merely to wash hands and rinse out the mouth in a washbasin provided within the shrine grounds. Because Jesus came to make us truly clean, there are many ways we can use this affirmation as a “redemptive analogy” for the Gospel. Imagine the impact of a sermon that contrasted ritual Shinto washing in water with Ephesians 5:26 (“washing with water through the word” NASB), or 1 Corinthians 6:11b (“you were washed… in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” NASB).

Water baptism is a big step in a new Japanese believer’s life. Although in some ways it appears similar to Shinto ritual purification rites, the Bible is clear that it represents more than just “washing” but rather a symbolic death and resurrection. Of course baptism also means a public confession of identity as a Christian and to many new believers this is a weighty decision. Because rituals are important in Japanese culture; water baptism strongly brings home the reality of a believer’s commitment to follow Jesus as Lord.

Taking the time to understand and prayerfully consider some of the influences of Shinto on Japanese culture can be very beneficial to a Christian who would like to share the Gospel in Japan. This article originally came from a paper I wrote called The Theology of Shinto. If you are interested, you can read the original paper at:

If you have read this far, would you take a moment and pray for Japan? I have focused on Shinto in this article but that is just one aspect of this amazing nation. I have lived in Japan for more than 20 years but I still learn things about the culture every day. I would love to hear your thoughts about Japan in the comments section below.

[1] Dr. David K. Clark, Shinto, A religion profile from International Students, Inc., (Colorado Springs, CO: ISI, 2004), [book on-line] available at, Internet, accessed November, 2013.

[2] For example notice the following paragraph in the “About” section of The International Shinto Foundation official website – “Those involved in establishing the Foundation shared the belief that without study that takes account of Shinto a true understanding of the Japanese people and Japanese culture will remain inaccessible.”, [website] available at, Internet, accessed November, 2013.

[3] The definitions of the “Four Affirmations” are a generalization but can generally be observed in Shinto practices and literature. See The Japan Reference, [database on-line] available at, Internet, accessed November, 2013. Also see the website for the book Religion for Dummies, Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002, [website] available at, Internet, accessed November, 2013.

Where your treasure is your heart will be also…

yokosuka-pachinkoWhere are the young men in Yokosuka, Japan at 8:30am on a Sunday morning? Lined up waiting to spend their money on pachinko… But a couple of blocks away we had a great worship service at Yokosuka Grace Bible Church. This afternoon about 10 new members were added to the church. It is more rewarding than a big pachinko payout or winning the lottery to see lives changed and people following Jesus. These are the true riches!

Norenwake church planting

I am most privileged to be married to a girl from the Aichi prefecture of Japan. Her great uncle started a well-known tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant in Nagoya. He was one of the first to serve this type of food in a Japanese style. He sliced the cutlets and served them up to be eaten with chopsticks. His restaurant specialized in making a great bacon salad with the leftover parts of the pork. And they also used Nagoya’s famous miso to make a sauce for the tonkatsu and served miso tonkatsu or miso-katsu, as it is known now. The restaurant became so successful that several of the employees moved on and started their own shops based on the same menu and style of food. Of course, each branch had their differences and reflected the personality of the individual owners, but they all had the same basic menu and most of them even used the same name.

In Japan, when a new restaurant starts with he cooperation of the existing establishment it is called norenwake – literally a “dividing of the noren”. The noren is the traditional Japanese fabric curtain which is hung in front of the entrance way of the restaurant. It usually has the name and logo of the establishment printed on it. When sending a former employee out to start his own shop, the owner will often make him a new noren to hang in front that shows the same name as the old place so he can build on the brand loyalty for the shop. He will also give him a portion of the restaurant’s sauce to use as starter for a new batch. My wife’s uncle repeated this process several times and through his leadership and guidance many new shops sprung up around the city of Nagoya. When I lived in Nagoya about 20 years ago, I got a chance to eat at one of these norenwake restaurants. The original restaurant that my wife’s uncle had built was long out of business by this time. But I still remember how good my first plate of Nagoya misokatsu was.

Our church in Yokosuka was planted this way and I believe that in the future we will also have the privilege of sending our own “chefs” out to start their own norenwake churches. We are a part of a spiritual family in Japan that has a shared mission and calling. We have the same name, the same basic “recipe” and the same “sauce” for what we serve to the people in our community who need to be fed. In fact the Holy Spirit has been sending out church planters since the first century with the same name and the same mission. Each nation and church has their own cultural distinctive and flavors. But our job is to offer that same “menu” to new believers in Japan so that, even though the churches listed in the New Testament have long since closed their doors, anyone who seeks for truth in Japan can come and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8; 1 Peter 2:2-3) at our norenwake church.


My recollection of what happened on March 11th, 2011…


When the earthquake started I was on the third floor of building that our church meets in with my children, James and Alishea. As it shook my first concern was for the new speakers and lights we had just hung from the ceiling. But as the tremors continued and then intensified I began to realize that this wasn’t the typical earthquake that one becomes accustomed to in Japan. I began to think about how we would get out of the building. “Should we try to take the stairs? It’s really shaking bad!”  Then I realized that there were probably dozens of grade-school children in the day-care coop on the floor just below us. The thought came quickly, “Should we try to help them get outside too?”  But I knew there was no way to get downstairs now – the building was shaking too hard.

After the first shock began to subside, we all came down the staircase and into the street. It was still early in the afternoon and there were not many children there yet. Most were still in school. The ones who were there obediently followed the supervisor out of the building and onto the sidewalk. They had been trained for this and they knew what to do in an earthquake. Right after we got outside the ground started quaking again. I noticed that the traffic signals were all out. None of the cars were moving. We watched in amazement as the street seemed to roll like the ocean and the large traffic signs above the main highway in front of our building moved up and down on the waves. After a few more terrifying minutes it was all over. The retired men who spent each afternoon volunteering as crossing guards for the children quickly moved out into the intersection and began directing traffic like they had been planning for this type of thing their whole lives. It was amazing how smoothly they switched into emergency mode. No electricity. No signals. No problem! At that moment I was glad that we were in Japan.

Over the next several weeks and months, God used our church to help people in the same way he used those volunteers. We switched into emergency mode. We didn’t realize the full extent of what was happening for quite a long time. I later read that the initial earthquake was so big that it affect the axis of the earth and the rotation of our whole planet sped up slightly. Amazingly, the entire island of Japan moved 8 feet closer to North America. When the tsunami hit, entire towns were totally washed away. The topography change so drastically that maps of Japan had to be redone. But for us at the time, the biggest shock was the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, only about 180 miles from our church.

We really didn’t have time to think about all that. We just kept moving forward and allowing God to use us to help others. We joined forces with many other churches and individuals and switched into emergency mode almost as smoothly as the crossing guards on the first day had done. Even though there were many times when fear came and even exhaustion, we knew that God was working though us because so many doors of opportunity miraculously opened and so much provision and help flowed through our hands.

Sometime between one and two months after the earthquake I was in the shower and I finally felt the weight of it. 16,000 souls just north of us were gone and hundreds of thousand of homeless people had lost their homes, loved ones and even their future because of the radiation. That was the first time I cried after the earthquake. It would not be the last.

Change is now coming to Japan. It needs to come. But change is not without a price. Please keep praying for this nation. If you are praying for Japan please leave a comment on this site to encourage others. Also check out this song that James wrote right after the quake which we used to help raise support for the people of Tohoku.

When the Earth shakes (original)

(new video version – April 1st)
This video contains footage that I took personally in Ishinomaki, Japan shortly after the Great Earthquake of March 11, 2011. I combined it with photos from our Every Nation churches working together to help Japan. James Mercer’s heartfelt song expresses our faith that God would meet every need.

(new audio version – March 31st)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In times like this I’m reminded

That my life belongs to you

In times like this I will not fear

Everything is in your hands

When the Earth shakes

I’ll be ready for Your call

For I know You will guide me through

When the Earth shakes

I will serve You all the more

For I know in You I stand secure

When I’m alone I’m not alone

You are always there for me

When I’m confused You give me peace

You give me strength so I can lead

Earthquake Information Center

How to Give

Give to Japanese local churches through Every Nation U.S.A.
(These are local churches in Japan that I am directly connected with and who are working now to establish relief efforts)

Missing Person Locators

Person Finder (multilingual)

Red Cross Family Links page for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (multilingual)

Google Earthquake Crisis Response

Google has set up a great information page for the earthquake here. Also you can donate to the Japanese Red Cross at this page. The Red Cross in Japan is still assessing the situation but if you feel you need to give money now, that is one place to do it. It should eventually be put to good use.

This page has many useful links such as:

  • Warnings and advisories
  • Disaster message boards
  • Transportation status
  • Blackout information

The Japanese version of the above page is here. 

Softbank announces free messaging and free WiFi spots



Before/After Satellite Photos from ABC News Australia

hover mouse over each picture to see the change:

Video Archive of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Three Keys


Japan – Key to Reaching Asia

With a population of almost 128 million, Japan is only the tenth most populated country in the world.  When most mission strategists talk about Asia they naturally think of nations like China and India because of their growing economic influence and huge populations. However Japan has been uniquely positioned by God to be a major influence throughout Asia in the twenty-first century. Japan is a leading force in business and economics, with major international banks and world-dominating companies in the electronics, technology and automotive industries.  This year, China passed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world for the first time. However, while Japan is still a very close third economically, I would assert that Japan has an even greater power in its culture. Japanese culture is unique and fascinating. You can see the impact of this “culture export” all over the world but most especially in Asian countries. This cultural influence causes change in the youth and over time it becomes a powerful force to change the thinking and behavior in entire countries.

Even as I write this, Japanese creative minds are undeniably influencing the arts and media of many countries across the waters from her shores. Japan produces 80% of the world’s video animations, called anime. Other media include manga “comic books” and Japanese television. J-Pop music culture has penetrated throughout the world and  Tokyo fashion is visible from Korea to Paris and everywhere in between. Styles from the streets of Harajuku, the famous fashion mecca in the heart of Tokyo, are said to strongly influence some of big-name fashion designers in Europe. Even Japanese food culture is influencing the world. The Japanese television cooking show “Iron Chef” has been popular for many years and this year, the venereable Michelin Guide, which annually rates the world’s best restaurants, proclaimed Tokyo “the world leader in gourmet dining” and awarded more than twice as many stars to gourmet establishments in Tokyo than to those in Paris, the former gourmet leader.The last century’s financial boom in Japan created one of the world’s highest standards of living. Because of the fat billfolds of the typical Japanese tourist, most Asian countries welcome a Japanese passport.  Communist nations are open to Japanese tourism and business.  Recently, even some pragmatic Islamic nations, looking to bolster their economic conditions, invite Japanese business and tourism. Japanese passports can easily go places that others cannot. In short,  Japan has been positioned to reach into every Asian nation through exports, media, culture and also through individual Japanese citizens.

Tokyo – Key to Reaching Japan

NASA Photo of Tokyo Bay

The GDP of Tokyo alone is greater than the GDP of Canada.  Over 25% of the entire population of Japan lives in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.  This makes the Tokyo “mega-city” agglomeration 34,000,000 people and the largest agglomeration in the world.  Tokyo is not only one of the largest cities in the world, but it is also one of the single largest unevangelized masses of humanity anywhere at any time in history (according to the Joshua Project, only the Islamic Shaiks of Bangladesh are a larger unreached people group). Over 3 million people per day travel through Shinjuku station in the center of Tokyo.  If the Bible is true, 99% are headed for an eternal separation from God.  This is unacceptable.  We must redouble our efforts to understand and reach the largest city in the world.

The longer we wait, the more souls will be lost.  On the other hand, if we can reach Tokyo the rewards are great.  As I see it Tokyo is truly a “pearl of great price” which is worth the enormous cost to possess.  If Tokyo experiences revival in the early 21st century, it will not only change Japan, it will change Asia and the uttermost parts of the earth.

Discipleship – Key to Reaching Tokyo

Exponential change is needed to penetrate and change the entire city. No existing single mega-church in the world is big enough to have the kind of influence that would truly change a city the size of Tokyo. Instead there must be multiplication of disciples, training of leaders, planting of churches which multiply like seeds growing and reproducing. This year marked 150 years of Protestant Mission to Japan. Because Japan is still more than 99% unreached, it might seem at a glance that nothing is happening. But Christianity has had a disproportionate affect on this nation since World War II. Many Christian educational institutions and hospitals stand as a testament its influence.  Christianity is well-respected and is, in fact, regarded as one of the most true and virtuous religions. But as a wise Japanese pastor said publically at a recent Tokyo world mission symposium, “Japanese people put relationships above the truth.” We must find a way to show this people that the best thing they can do for their relationships is to embrace God’s Truth. Because Japan is culturally homogeneous and because of the deep relationship-base of the population it is possible to see a total shift towards Christianity in our generation.  If true Japanese disciples with a heart to reach the lost can be made then it is possible that Japan could become a Christian nation very quickly. Jesus invested three years in His disciples and they multiplied and “turned the world upside down.” If a movement of young people in Tokyo can influence the worldwide fashion industry out of one train station at Harajuku then they can also influence their city to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If Tokyo is influenced by the Gospel then Japan as a nation will surely be influenced too. The only thing necessary for turning Japan upside down is some true disciples. The only thing necessary for making true disciples is one minister who is willing to be used by God. Lord, please use me.