We are very blessed to have many ministry partners, 36 local churches and over 20 individuals. One church member said, “We do not like our missionaries being held back from their ministry” and then doubled their monthly giving to us. In the last three weeks, God has provided $340 in monthly support. Today our need is $160 per month, and when achieved we are again off to Japan.
Want to join this team that accelerates spiritual renewal and church planting movements in the largest unreached people group? Japan needs gobs of new churches; we cannot wait to get back to train more in church planting. More leaders must be developed; we are impatient for our departure. Our partners in Japan are praying and encouraging us to hurry up and return to Japan.
Would you therefore pray about financially supporting us? We are now so very close and need several one-time gifts and as well as new monthly donors. Thank you for considering this. More information on giving can be found at http://www.convergeworldwide.org/give/49651 or contact us.
Elaine and I were honored to participate in the Second Quad Cities Missions Conference on Sunday August 12th. This very unique network includes six local churches in Illinois and Iowa and extends into two Converge regions. These churches are locking arms and aligning their budgets with the vision to send more local people out as missionaries to the nations. The six pastors had a pulpit exchange all preaching from Psalm 67, a mission Psalm. At the Grandview Davenport, IA church John shared how God led him to become a missionary where Pastor Jerry Schrick, from partnering church in Moline, Illinois, preached.
In the afternoon, Cornerstone church in Eldridge Iowa was a hive of activity. There were three workshops presented. Twice Elaine & John team taught a workshop on “How does God lead you?” Over 400 volunteered with Kids Against Hunger packed over 23,000 meals for children in needy countries. Then the entire conference closed with a worship celebration. Steve Valentine, Missionary Recruitment Director, also took part in the commissioning of missionaries from this church network including Drew & Sarah Robertson, new missionaries with Converge Worldwide originally from Calvary, Monmouth, IL. Ivan Veldhuizen, Director of International Ministries, challenged all the churches with a message Rescued to Rescue from Isaiah 54.
Recently a pastor (with a doctorate) asked me a research question on marriage patterns in Japan. They quoted from Stephanie Coontz (Marriage, a History). She asserts Japan is culturally promoting sex among it young population: “Japanese pundits lament the drop in business in Japan’s rent-by-the-hour ‘love hotels’ and some are calling for the youth to not hate sex.” Is this idiosyncratic or is she truly reflecting the culture? So I researched it a bit (the Dr. John in me). Here are my observations.
Stephanie Coontz appears to be a careful scholar but I am always hesitant about a westerner writing on Japan, especially in a book where they try to make a point about the west. East and West are very different and we begin with different concerns and values. I take this sentence with a grain of salt.
One of Stephanie Coontz’s concerns is that love motels are not doing very well. It could be merely an economic answer. Japan as a whole is doing poorly economically and disposable income is limited, hence the problem with the “love hotel” business. The resort where we have the CPI conference has been struggling for a growing business for decades and it is in a popular vacation spot.
There are several changes in Japan which I have observed and read about which I believe shows some changes in sexual relationships and marriage.
The drop in the birth rate, but that does not always indicate a drop in sexual relationships. The government is even rewarding couples who have children. I doubt that the government of Japan is encouraging young people to have sex. I don’t think in the history of the world and in Japan young people developed an attitude to hate sex. Hormones dictate otherwise.
The roles in marriage have been steadily changing. Not all of this is negative and some of it is even Biblical. See the whole chapter on changing marriage in Japan: New Japan: Debunking Seven Cultural Stereotypes by David Ricky Matsumoto (Mar 1, 2007)
Women’s role is also changing like the modern “gaaru” (girl)
As far as I know the practice of enjo kosai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enjo_kosai) or “compensated dating” has probably diminished due to the economy. But young people have less moral resistance to promiscuous sex. Shintoism and Buddhism do not really speak against it like the moral law of God from the Bible. Also in society it is permitted as long as you do not shame yourself or family. And the most common form of birth control is abortions which are widely practiced.
To sum up, a lot has to do with the economy, busyness of Japan, stress, and the role of men. I would generally agree with this article on sex and marriage values among young people. (But I would ignore the statement about hikikomori that overstates the relationship.) http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-06-02-japan-women-usat_x.htm Certainly we need to pray for wisdom for Japanese young people and abstinence. Also we need to pray for the women of Japan, the men of Japan, and marriages in Japan. May each Japanese find the joy of marriage that God intended when he created us.
Because of my role with Japan Church Planting Institute, my UTube videos, my website, and other ways people contact me when they are interested in planting churches in Japan. These are all people I have never met, nor are their part of our Converge Worldwide network. God is calling people to work in Japan; it is amazing considering all the ways he does this. For the past two weeks I have been receiving an unusual number of requests for help. I am grateful I can save them some time and struggle.
These are the churches over the last two weeks: One prominent church (you all would know them if I mentioned their name) wants to use a team to plant a church in Tokyo. One major regional conference is collecting information for churches wanting to send teams to Japan to help in relief and church planting ministry. One couple from Singapore, he a Frenchman and she a Japanese want to go work planting churches in Japan. Another experienced couple who planted in two other countries wants to come to Tokyo to plant a church. There is one person being sent by their home church to come assist the Kingdom work in Japan.
I see my role is advising, helping them network with others, connect them to resources and people, and resource them with good information, training opportunities and materials. This is all being done while I continue to wait to return to Japan myself. God is very cool! Please pray for the many others also sensing God’s leading to Japan, that I, CPI and others may be able to assist them be successful.
In the United States, Japanese Americans have historically been among the three largest Asian American communities, but in recent decades, they have become the sixth largest group at roughly 1,304,286, including those of mixed-race or mixed-ethnicity.
About 800,000 are first generations Japanese (in contrast, about 90,000 American live in Japan but only about 1,000 are missionaries). In the 2000 census, the largest Japanese American communities were found in California with 394,896, Hawaii with 296,674, Washington with 56,210, New York with 45,237, and Illinois with 27,702.
There are about 180 “Japanese churches” in the United States which means there is about one church for every 5,000 Japanese. Here in Japan there is only one church for every 15,000 Japanese!
Pray for the Converge Japanese churches in the US in Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Pray too for the Japan Ministry Team (JMT) that is encouraging vision for new Japanese churches in the US. Japanese are very globalized and have their own diaspora.
Japan is quiet and exotic and unusual place for foreigners. Here are some examples of things that surprise foreigners.
1. The trains actually come on time
2. The fruit is really delicious (There’s a lot of cross breeding)
3. The bread at 7-11 is really good
4. Taxi doors open automatically
5. The high likelihood of lost items being returned to you
6. Everyone eats KFC for Christmas dinner
7. There are vending machines absolutely everywhere
8. There are Washlet bidets toilets.
9. You can drink water from the tap
10. The tea isn’t sweetened