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Relationship is the key at Christmas in Japan

This year is my fifteenth Christmas with the Japanese church. I have served in one way or another in ten different churches. I have seen a wide range of Christmas outreach events: from quiet, intimate Christmas Eve candle services, to a concert performed by a ten-member gospel choir in a packed-out auditorium.

So, you would think that, after all this time, I would have the whole Christmas outreach and taking ‘the good news of great joy for all the people’ thing perfected. That every December, I would be able to help churches run events where hundreds of people stream in and come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I would love to say that this has been my reality, but it wouldn’t be the truth. Yes, there have been some ‘successful’ events and people have come to faith through them. But the reality is that it wasn’t the event that brought them to Christ. Rather, it was the relationship that brought them to the event that had the biggest impact on them coming to faith.

It should come as no surprise then, that relationship is the foundation of everything we do. Relationships with families, friends, neighbours, workmates, and others in our community. These are built on a trust that can only come about through time and effort put in outside of an event or other church setting. Relationship is the key—a strong connection with believers shows not-yet-believers what a relationship with God looks like.

Japan’s Christian population remains under one percent, so the Japanese church still has a lot of work to do. My heart aches for the day when all Japanese will not only have heard of the ‘good news of great joy’ but many will have responded positively to it. It’s why Japanese pastors and church members, and missionaries, do what we do. And that is the beauty of events hosted by churches during the Christmas season. These events provide a natural opportunity for us to invite those who we are building relationships with, to a place where they can hear the gospel loud and clear.

By Steve, an OMF missionary

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