Being as far as it is away from the U.S., many people don’t know much about Japan, especially in terms of the state of the church there. Because of that, it may be difficult to understand why this mission field is so important to my family, as well as some of the challenges that exist on the field. Rather than write a lengthy blog post about every point, I thought it might be easier to make a simple infographic to provide a profile of the mission field in Japan. Scroll down to the bottom to see a few points of interest explained in further detail.
As you can see, the numbers for the church in Japan are not great! Even including all Christian adherents (that is, those who say they are Christian on a survey), Christianity only makes up 1.5% of the population. The vast majority of the country is made up of Buddhism and Shintoism together, as Japan is highly syncretistic. If you narrow down the Christian percentage to evangelical churches, the number is much smaller, at only 0.5%, though I have seen even lower numbers than that. If you include all churches related to the restoration movement (Churches of Christ, Christian Church, etc.), the number is still smaller, likely around 1% of that 0.5%, or ~0.005% of the whole population. When you get down to just the Churches of Christ in Japan, you’re looking at roughly 0.001% of the population – only about 1500 members, and even that may be a generous count!
Meanwhile, missionaries have decreased in recent years. According to one number, missionaries to Japan are down by 34% in the last 20 years. That could actually be a good thing if the Japanese churches themselves were able to pick up the work fully, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Rather, it seems past missionaries are returning home or going on to their reward, but few are coming in to replace them. I can think of 2 missionaries within the Churches of Christ who have passed away in recent years, and 4-5 more who have left for various reasons. I can only think of one or two new missionaries in that same amount of time, both of whom are vocational. They are doing incredibly valuable Kingdom work, as they share their focus between their jobs and the church’s needs.
Suffice it to say, there is a great need for workers, and plenty of work to be done. That is why our family wants to go back to Japan. We see the need, we know we can be a part of the work, and we want to become a part of it once again.
If you’re interested in supporting our upcoming work, please click here to find more information, and please be praying for us and all the dedicated Kingdom workers across Japan.
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