As I wrote on our church website, I’m still excited about what happened in Japan at the first House Church Seminar For Japanese-Speaking Pastors. I think that the seminar will be remembered as a watershed event in Japanese Christian history.
Japan has the highest missionary-to-population ratio in the world, but shows the least fruit. It’s unbelievable to me that the percentage of Christians is around 1% (and only half of them Evangelical) in a country where religious freedom is guaranteed. The average number of members in a Japanese church is only 32.
Pastor Nam-Soo Cho, who pastors a Japanese church at Kawasaki, a suburb of Tokyo, translated my book into Japanese and sponsored the seminar. He baptized about 20 people last year, only two years after converting his traditional church to house churches. That number is remarkable considering that the vast majority of Japanese churches don’t baptize a single person in a year. This seminar may start a movement that will rejuvenate Japanese churches.
This was my first visit to Japan. When I heard the testimonies of Japanese Christians and talked with them, I found that they were exactly like Koreans. Except for a few cultural idiosyncrasies, they were happy about the same things and sad about the same things. When I walked the streets of Tokyo, I could not tell whether I was in Tokyo or in Seoul simply by looking at people. Japanese and Koreans look so alike.
It is human nature to feel uncomfortable with people who are different from us. I think men like Hitler use these uncomfortable feelings in their pursuit of power by turning them into racial prejudice.
Many Koreans harbor antagonism toward the Japanese people because of the atrocities they committed when they occupied the Korean peninsula before World War II. But they were not carried out by all “Japanese people” – certain evil Japanese people committed these atrocities. Japanese people are not inherently evil.
Sometimes I wonder – if Korea occupied Japan, would they behave any better? Many people in Korea write hate-filled comments on Internet bulletin boards about incidents involving foreign nationals. They certainly harbor racial hatred. It’s entirely possible that if they occupied another country, they would be as bad or worse than the Japanese. I am wary of people who camouflage their hatred toward foreigners as patriotism or love for country.
God created one human race, but sin divided it into many races. Jesus came to make humankind one again under God. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he declared that there are no Jews or Greeks in Christ (Galatians 3:28).
Missions begins when we realize that all mankind are brothers and sisters. Missions means seeking out our lost brothers and sisters and helping them return to God, who is their Father as well as ours.
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