What if there were no Christmas?
No REAL Christmas, at least. No one around you really knew what the holiday was about. Oh, there were some pretty decorations, tinsel and trees, and colored lights around. Here and there you’d hear jingle bells or see a Santa hat. But that hardly lifts the gloom that hangs about people trudging through daily fears, struggles and regrets. The real Christmas, the one about a Savior born to rescue mankind, bringing hope and joy to this life. That Christmas is unknown. Not ignored, U-N-K-N-O-W-N.
If you can imagine a time when Christmas is wiped clean from your everyday experience, thoughts and memories, you're getting close to understanding…
...this is Japan as it is now.
I’m always dumbfounded when a Japanese asks the sincere question, “Does Christmas have something to do with Jesus Christ?” “Are you kidding?” I think to myself. “How could you not know this?”
But then I realize: how do I know the real Christmas? Wasn’t it from the testimony of my Christian environment, together with family, friends, and church? None of this exists in Japan. So, it’s a land without Christmas.
But we believe in a different future for Japan!
What if someone who knew the real Christmas story brought it to this people? What if they shared how this Baby brought forgiveness, healing and purpose to this life, and hope for life eternal? Get ready for a big change. A truly Merry Christmas for many! Would you send someone to carry this good news, someone whose heart breaks for the people of this land?
Help send us with the message.
We need monthly partners to close our support gap (see amount at bottom). Would you partner with us in 2017 for the cause of Christ, and for the change of Japanese people? So that Japan can know and enjoy a real Christmas!
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Over the years of our Kawasaki church plant, this fumbling missionary (and very competent wife) have been able to share the gospel with many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unbelievers in our outreach activities. Some are just looking. Some will return and connect with the church. Some will soon be interested in a a Christianity for Beginners study. Still others we will never see again. Yet, God ordained that now, in this place, their lives intersect with the gospel and ourselves. The gap of those 99% still needing Christ is bridged just a little bit more.
This situation is repeated across Japan. There are sprawling communities without a church witness. There are countless churches without pastors (nearly a third). There are hundreds of tiny churches struggling to make an impact in their neighborhoods. There are many elderly pastors (like 84-year-old Pastor N. at right) looking for a replacement before they can retire.
Coming from a country of abundant Christian resources (USA), this disparity of the gospel in Japan is troubling to me.
It compels me to share this appeal:
1) Japan remains a mission field where the disparity of the gospel, and the spiritual opportunity, is as great as ever.
2) Our great God has called upon us, his church, to bridge the gospel gap.
Might you also help bridge the gap in Japan? Thanks for your partnership!
Even with limited resources and difficult circumstances (including post- disaster areas like Fukushima & Kumamoto), our Japanese colleagues work tirelessly and passionately for the cause of Christ. Praise God for faithful workers in his harvest fields!
Sunday, February 14, 2016
On February 14, ladies get the murky duty of judging where they stand in their relationships, and giving accordingly.
First, there's the "giri choco" or "obligation chocolate." This is an inexpensive bag of sweets that you give to the guys around because you must. It's expected. It's a way of "greasing the skids" of the relationships in life. All of them. Well, mostly. Just don't get caught not giving to someone!
Then there's "honmei choco" or "favorite chocolate." These you only give to guys you want to show your affection toward. These sweets tend to be rather expensive, and probably even homemade.
Oh, yes! There's the "tomo choco" or "just friends chocolate" as well. That's a whole other category of relationship to figure out.
With all this chocolate swirling about, you'd think the guys would be thrilled. Not really. Getting chocolates comes with a whole set of obligations. Men must reciprocate on "White Day," a month later on March 14. Each and every chocolate needs to be responded to, often with one worth three times as much as received. Talk about putting on the pressure!
No doubt about it. In spite of all the heartshaped boxes, Valentine's Day in Japan is less about love, and more about duty and obligation.
Japan, if all this makes you yearn for a true unfettered expression of love, forget about the chocolate thing. Look to the cross of Christ instead. Here is a love given out generously to all − without levels, obligations, or payments still owed. John 4:10 says "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
Now that's a sweet deal! Obligation chocolate? Nah! I'll take unmerited love.