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Taking the gospel to the workplace

It is my heart’s desire to bring the gospel to the Japanese workplace. The reason is simple: about 98 million Japanese people are at work all day and never have a chance to hear the gospel.

Japan Times reported in October 2017 that Japan’s total labour participation rate is at 77%. Japanese are a hardworking people and by the time the weekend comes they are so fatigued that sleeping-in is their main priority on Sundays. There is no motivation for them to walk into a church and listen to a foreign religion unless they are genuinely seeking. 

Veteran missionaries say that, on average, it takes about eight to ten years for a Japanese person to come to faith because time to establish relationship and trust is key in this culture. In the workplace, relationships and trust have already been established, and if the Christians working there are bold and equipped to share the gospel whenever the opportunities arise, that would be wonderful.

English teaching as a tool

Since there is a strong need or desire to learn English in Japan, I believe English teaching in the marketplace is one channel to reach out to them. I’ve been teaching English in a local church for nearly two years. The students are mainly working adults, housewives, and retired people. Each lesson is 1.5 hours long with half of the session on grammar, conversation, English games, etc., and the other half on the Bible. We state at the beginning that the Bible will be used so that there is no element of surprise. I attempt to link each lesson to the gospel. Each class is a precious opportunity.

Initial responses to the gospel were scepticism and disbelief. Over time, though, I can see some of them experiencing paradigm shifts as I use the Bible and testimonies of many Christians to answer their questions. I hope they will commit their lives to Jesus soon. 

With the help of my home church, we had an English camp in August last year and one person received Christ during the camp.

Japan is a huge country and commuting takes time, coming to class in the evenings can be tiring at the end of the day. For those who are not able to come regularly and would like conversation practice, I link them up with similar minded Christians in various parts of the world through Skype. This has worked out quite well. 

Last September, the Lord opened a door for me to teach English in a local company with a staff strength of about 16 people. The CEO himself is a godly Christian businessman who really cares for his staff and customers. I teach here once a week. The challenge here is that the students come with different levels of English and I need to balance the levels of difficulty during class. They are a brilliant lot and ask very good questions. For some of them, it has been their first encounter with the Bible. Their fatigue is also a challenge as the class is conducted at the end of a midweek workday. It is important to engage their interest by making the lesson interesting.

Bringing the gospel to all the workplaces in Japan is a huge task and I know I cannot do it alone. I have started training some Christians on how to pray and share the gospel with their colleagues, neighbours, and family members. May God give them courage, wisdom and protection as they soldier on wherever they are placed. 

By an OMF Japan missionary

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray that full-time workers in Japan will hear the gospel.
  • Pray that Japanese Christians will be bold in their workplaces to talk about their faith.
  • For gospel opportunities such as this missionary has found, to teach English in workplaces.

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