Over the past few years I have been noticing an increase in other nationalities in Japan.
The church I go to has people from the Philippines, India, and Uganda. British, Americans, and Canadians also regularly attend. But after the service, when we introduce visitors; well, some Sundays it is almost like the United Nations!
Recently I heard of a church in Tokyo that has started a monthly church service in Vietnamese. About 20 people from across the Tokyo area attend, and it is run by Japanese Christians from a number of different churches. The first service started with words: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in before of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9 NIV).
OMF has had good links with an organisation of Filipino churches for a couple of years now. We want to help them by enabling Filipinos come to Japan as missionaries—we can train them in language and culture; they can help us by providing support and places for them to serve. This organisation has run events called “Bless Japan” in both the Philippines and Japan. The goals are, respectively, to encourage mission to Japan and to pray for the salvation of Japanese.
The church that I attend has a small group that take place in Chinese. People from many countries and backgrounds go to it. Every August this group sets up a live online link to a Bible teaching conference in Hong Kong. In this way, not only people from our church, but other Chinese speakers can receive good Bible teaching. In time, our church wants to have a Chinese worship service. We’re not there yet, but we did have a baptism recently.
I’ve read of another church here that is really three churches meeting in one building—one each for Japanese, Brazilians, and Bolivians. They are not entirely separate congregations; they worship together three times a year and get together in other ways. They say, “There are cultural and language barriers, but we understand that the Bible teaches us to turn to God together.”
Then today I received a leaflet about the Ethnic Ministries Network Japan joint worship service. It seems that Nepalese, Brazilians, Indonesians, Mexicans, and many other nationalities will be there. They gather to encourage each other and strengthen their witness to their different groups. To me it sounds like a foretaste of heaven with people from many tribes and languages gathered before God’s throne.
It is said that the number of foreign Christians in Japan is almost the same as the number of Japanese Christians, and only a small proportion of those foreigners are full-time missionaries. Surely God longs for cooperation between foreign-language churches in Japan and Japanese churches in reaching both Japanese and foreigners.
Certainly more foreigners are coming to Japan than ever before. Pray that all the churches in Japan can grab the opportunities to reach people from all nations in Japan for Jesus.
—by Peter, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for good cooperation between foreign-language churches and Japanese churches in Japan in reaching others.
- Pray the Japanese church will grasp the opportunity to reach out to internationals in Japan.
- Pray that God would be glorified as more international Christians move to this nation.