English has been an effective medium in the past to reach out to non-believers in Japan. Now more missionaries are coming from non-English-speaking countries. We need to come up with other creative ideas in order to meet new people. This need has led to ministries such as hip hop dance lessons, cooking classes, surfing groups, board games nights, ukulele trial lessons . . . many things are being tried as new styles of ministry.
Japan used to be a society with sufficient social welfare support. But in recent years there’s been an economic crisis, the continued decline of the birth rate, rapid aging of Japanese society, and several severe natural disasters. So, we are seeing different needs in this unreached nation.
We missionaries come to a country and aim to bring the good news to the local people. Under the guidance of God, we use our imagination and gifts, together with professional skills to reach out to people. Here are some creative ministry possibilities:
In an aging society, there are many facilities and services for elderly people in the community. One kind of facility that we have noticed in Sapporo are funeral halls. In preparing for a funeral, there are many opportunities for people to think about what happens after life on this earth. This leads us to think that teaching people how to handle their own or a loved one’s funeral could be a ministry.
Relaxing kids zone
Studying is always part of a kid’s life in Japan. But some struggle to cope with classroom learning. In addition, many elementary students have to stay at community centers after school because of their parents’ work schedules. We’re thinking that it would be possible to provide an after-school activity other than tutorial lessons for children, a place where they could enjoy playing games and also have the chance to hear Bible stories.
Adoptive family support group
Compared to other prefectures in Japan, Hokkaido has a high percentage of adopted children. We were blessed while we were in Hong Kong with the opportunity to gather with other adoptive families to support each other. We feel that this important for both parents and children in adoptive families and hope that we can develop the same kind of support network in Hokkaido.
To the weak I became weak
In 1 Corinthians 9 we read: “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (vv. 22-23 NIV).
Paul reminds us we should try to become like the people we work with so that we can save some. In ‘creative ministry’, we are not trying to create new elements in the community; but rather we want to react to the needs of the community. We want to address problems that community members themselves acknowledge are needs. In this way, we hope local people can copy the ministry pattern we demonstrate and at some point, continue it by themselves.
We need to get alongside Japanese people and pray for God’s wisdom to see how we can create suitable ministries here. What other ministries can you think of?
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that God will inspire and guide missionaries in Japan to be creative and sensitive to the needs of the society around them.
- Pray that God will prepare suitable local people in Japan to continue existing ministries.
- Pray that God will have mercy on Japanese people. Pray he will give them peaceful minds and open their hearts to accept the only one true God.