Just yesterday, on Thursday, September 22nd, current Prime Minister Kishida announced Japan would resume visa-free travel from October 11th, 2022!
It's wildly welcome news after 2 1/2 years of waiting, waiting, and wondering. (At least, for those not already living here.) You can read the whole Japan Times article here.
We pray that open travel allows short-term missionaries to take steps towards long-term mission work here. If someone you know has a heart for missions in Japan, we would love to speak with them!
The fact remains that Japanese people are still a massive unreached people group. With a population of 125 million and no restrictions on proselytizing or church gatherings, it is the world's most open and unreached group.
Organizations consider a 2% evangelical Christian presence to qualify as a reached group. Japan's evangelical Christian population remains at 0.5%. Two years of travel restrictions did not help to boost that number.
Most Japanese citizens have never heard a compelling presentation about Jesus's good news. People here often don't know any Christians personally. Even fewer have the opportunity to be discipled in a local church.
Japanese pastors are underpaid and frequently work full-time jobs with full-time ministry responsibilities. Average congregations are not large or healthy enough to support them financially yet. Many churches, especially in rural areas, simply do not have pastors at all. Help from missionaries around the world is crucial to keep existing Kingdom workers here while training new ones.
A mentor and I were reflecting on what long-term success looks like for a new believer growing to maturity.
First, there is the moment of decision to turn from sin and trust in Jesus alone. Then new believers need to see the truth of the Gospel lived out by others to confirm their initial experience. They understand over time that Christian community is motivated by love and the Holy Spirit.
Someone must also come alongside that new believer for the upcoming months and years to help them grow into a relationship with Jesus for themselves. Taking responsibility to walk with new believers over time is essential.
Helping someone mature in faith requires multiple people, over numerous years, backed by a whole array of Spirit-empowered gifts. It's a reason we plant churches, we need all the gifts to support others.
Over the last two weeks, with our Choose Life chat, we've been getting requests for counseling by Christians in Japan. Please join us in praying for deliverance, that Biblical truth would saturate their hearts. One lady was dealing with oppressive feelings of worthlessness, and another was dealing with an eating disorder.
Thank you so much for supporting us. We are excited to continue to plant churches, counsel fellow Christians in Japan, and disciple believers here.
Do you have plans to visit Japan soon? Have you seen a different process for watching believers mature in Christ?