We came to Japan first in 1983 as short-term workers and then in 1986 as career missionaries. In those thirty-three years we have watched Japan change before our eyes.
Bumpy, windy roads have been replaced by smooth straight roads which take us to our destination in half the time. The houses along these roads are different shapes with different exteriors. The new houses are insulated and equipped with flush toilets complete with heated seats, unlike the squat drop toilets which the “honey truck” used to have to pump out. All in all, locals now have a warmer winter experience.
Although there are still some little neighborhood stores, they have largely been replaced with convenience stores and malls. This means there is less gossip and neighborhood pressure for those thinking of becoming Christians. Families did not shop together at the corner store. But now that people go to the mall, we often see couples or families strolling together.
Though many work places are still less than ideal, some families have been able to start doing things like camping together. Men still often work long hours, but those with less company benefits often spend more time at home than drinking in bars with workmates. These changes may be more noticeable in more rural areas.
During our first years in Japan, women often came to me to unload after unhappy altercations with their mothers-in-law. These days fewer people live with their in-laws. Some women would rather not marry than to have to live with in-laws which means men who want to get married are more apt to be willing to live separately or to marry someone from poorer Asian countries.
Fewer people talk about seeing spirits and more claim to believe nothing. But there remains, in the hearts of those we speak to, a desire for prayers or wishes to come true.
By Ruth Mae, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that the desire to have their prayers answered would lead Japanese people to the only One who can answer them.
- Pray that the positive changes in society would not lead to a decreased desire to seek after meaning in life.
- Pray for missionaries who have lived in Japan for a long time, that they will be encouraged by the changes they’ve seen.