Unreached, who??

Tags: Canada, Japan, Story
Did you know that the Japanese are the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world?

When people think of Unreached People Groups they might think of ethnic groups that are in African or Muslim countries. However, many are surprised to learn that the 2nd largest unreached people group are the Japanese. Even though missionaries have been in Japan for many decades, less than 1% of the population are evangelical believers.   According to Michelle Vu in the article “Mission Leader: Why so Few Christians in Japan?”, one reason why the Japanese have not embraced the gospel is the importance placed on harmony; harmony in family relationships, harmony in work relationships and harmony in neighborhood relationships, etc. Many Japanese, when they study the Word will see that Jesus is the Truth. However, they will also consider how becoming a follower of Jesus will impact the harmony in their relationships, realizing that harmony disrupted is awful. Therefore, the Japanese, more often than not, will choose relationships over following Jesus, choosing harmony over the Truth.

Former Soldiers Engaged in a Different Battle

After WWII, many men and women returned to Japan, not as soldiers who once fought in the Pacific, but as missionaries, with a message of peace that comes with knowing Jesus as Saviour.

SEND’s decades of work have led to many healthy churches and qualified Japanese leaders.

Just recently, SEND Japan, celebrated 70 years of ministry, giving thanks for what God has done and continues to do in the hearts of the people. In spite of this, there is still more work to be done!

After the Earthquake

One place where God is doing amazing things is in the Tohoku region, where almost 5 years ago, a devastating earthquake and tsunami claimed thousands of lives and brought untold damage. When the sun set on that day, one had to wonder how anything good could come from this horrific situation. However, the disaster brought to light the reality that many villages, impacted by the earthquake, had no gospel presence. As a result, SEND missionaries began moving out of the Tokyo area to begin ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of those whose lives were turned upside down.

Two of these missionaries are Dave and Eileen Barkman, who after moving to the Tohoku region, met Haruko* and her son, Hajime*. Eileen started tutoring Hajime because he needed assistance in preparing for a National English Exam. As the Barkmans got to know Haruko, she began to express her struggles and the hopelessness she has experienced since the earthquake. The Barkmans shared about Jesus and the hope that He can give, but Haruko’s heart remained hard.  

Growing Openess

One day in August 2014, Haruko visited the Barkmans and started asking questions. “What do you mean when you say ‘invite Jesus into your heart’?” she asked. “How do I get this peace you have been talking about?” For almost 2 hours the Barkmans shared the gospel more fully with her. She was very responsive but said that she would have to think about it. In October of last year, the Barkmans held their first Sakuragi Bible Reading Circle using the Discovery Bible Study method. Five ladies came, including Haruko, and they enjoyed their first taste of reading the Bible. Praise the Lord, Haruko continues to attend. Haruko is gradually changing and there is a growing openness, however, she tends to try to do self-improvement without the need for a Saviour. Pray that Haruko would acknowledge Jesus as the Truth and come to know Him personally, and trust God to work in her relationships where the harmony might be disrupted. Pray also for a great spiritual harvest to take place, and the barriers that keep the Japanese from coming to Christ would be broken down.

*This is a true story, but some names have been changed.

Find Prayer Requests for Japan from Operation World.

Discover Ministry Opportunities in Japan.

Learn About SEND's Ministry in Japan.

Read Another Story about Japan.

Merla Gogel serves as a mobilizer for SEND Canada. She served in Japan for 12.5 years as a church planter and now serves in the Canadian office.

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