John and Elaine Mehn

Hikikomori Answers

February 1st, 2014 by John

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/

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Who Will Go to the Unreached?

April 7th, 2010 by John

Over 9 days Levi and Diane Velasco visited Japan.  Levi is the Director of Recruiting for Converge Worldwide and they wanted to sense the needs here so they can better recruit people to come to Japan.  This is from their newsletter sent from Japan.

What pictures do you conjure when you hear the word “unreached”? In my mind, I see huts, muddy, potholed roads, crowded housing, slums, favelas and civil mayhem.  What if I told you that there is an unreached people group where the landscape includes well‐paved roads, skyscrapers, well‐appointed gardens, steel, glass and relative peace and safety? After more than 150 years of evangelical missions, less than 1% of 130 million Japanese claim to be born‐again believers. Yes, Japan. For so long, the Gospel has not been able to gain significant footing in Japan due to the prevailing influences of Shintoism and Buddhism. There are some signs however that point to a season of spiritual searching in Japan. According to John Mehn, Converge Japan Field Coordinator, the lack of economic stability in Japan has led to many societal ills including rising suicidal rates across all age groups, rampant divorce, abortions twice the rate in the U.S., alcoholism, increasing crime rate among seniors and Hikikomori, a tremendous fear of social contact , sometimes lasting over six months at a time. Plainly, the fabric of Japanese society is tearing as its long‐held beliefs and support structures no long provide answers for life’s questions. Japan no longer has the “ideal society” where employment to retirement is but a memory. There are 30,000 suicides committed in Japan annually and 1.2 million Japanese suffer from the effects of Hikikomori. And Japanese are clamoring for someone to save them. They may not know this yet, but there is only one Person who can save them ‐ His name is JESUS. The alarm has been sounded, but is Converge Worldwide up to the challenge of heralding the Good News in Japan, the best news the Japanese will ever hear? Why Japan, you may ask? I can say, because they have the highest literacy rates in the world, or that people are upwardly mobile, or their technology is advanced maybe even compared to the U.S., or because it has the potential of being a major missions sending nation. Why Japan now? BECAUSE JAPANESE NEED JESUS, just as much as other people groups in developing nations all around the world!


1) Ministry specialists in sports, worship, youth, children, compassion

2) Mental health trainers

3) Church planting teams

4) Church planting coaches

5) Marketplace disciplers (corporate/ business)

6) Black Gospel choir directors

7) Visual, dance, drama and musical artists

8) ESL teachers

Ideal service terms: 23 weeks, 36 months, 612 months, 13 years, career

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Understanding Hikikomori

January 24th, 2009 by John

Hikikomori (pron. He-key-koh-moh-ree) literally means “pulling away, confinement” or an acute social withdrawal.  Hikikomori is a relatively new social phenomenon that the Japanese government defines as individuals who isolate themselves from the rest of society in their parents’ homes for at least 6 months.  It is estimated that hundreds of thousands possibly upwards of 1,200,000 people (or 1% of the population) struggle with this social anxiety.  Read the rest of this entry »

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