Five years ago I wrote a blog on the psychological scourge affecting a large number of young people, hikikomori. I have not heard much good news from five years ago until now. Last week Elaine and I had lunch with Pastor Koichi Hirano and Pastor Nobuo Watanabe at their Setagaya church’s new café. We had not talked with Pastor Hirano for several months and he shared some amazing stories.
The Hikikomori are the Japanese most open to the gospel told Pastor Koichi Hirano of the Tokyo Horizon Chapel. This was not just his opinion but his experience from decades of Japanese ministry and current successes with Hikikomori young people. He explained to us that he just returned from taking a group of 16 of a two-week tour of the US, which he insists is necessary as it removes them completely from their context. He also took a group again in November. Of the Hikikomori kids he has been working with several have followed the Lord in baptism, many are living more normal lives, and some have gone into full-time Christian ministry. He does not work alone in this ministry but they have five licensed counselors working together and a professional psychologist.
For my previous blog on Hikikomori see http://www.gospelrest.com/understanding-hikikomori/
On 04/18 John Mehn talked briefly with famous Japanese artist Makoto Fujimura during his visit to this work site in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. John and volunteer team member Roger Olson were removing the flooring to be able to clean out the mud that entered this house. There were other volunteers helping as well.
John mentions to Makoto there were more deaths in Ishinomaki than in the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe in 1995. Also that even though Ishinomaki’s population is about 165,000 there are only about 6 or 7 churches with only about 130 people attending. The physical, emotional, and spiritual work needed ahead is overwhelming!
In Japan, abuse at home, bullying at school, unemployment problems, drug addiction, and impulsive indiscriminate killings show the increasingly serious problems of society. Moreover, the political right is gaining strength, as can be seen in schools where the national anthem and the national flag are enforced, as well as in the movement to revise the pacifist Constitution. Therefore, mission in Japan is in the midst of severe circumstances. Church members are aging and the number of young people are decreasing. Some pastors are quitting under difficult situations. Some churches have no pastors or are being closed. The influence of cults and the occurrence of various kinds of harassment are intensifying in the church.
* From the Sapporo Declaration of the 5th Japan Congress of Evangelism