The August cover issue of Time Magazine Asian edition caught my attention: A Clouded Outlook. Over these last few years, we have felt being in Japan that the hope index in Japan has been dangerously eroded. People in Japan are pretty beat down these days. Time observes, “Japan’s political leadership is paralyzed, its corporate elite befuddled, its people agonized about the future.” These are the same people we live and work with everyday.
Decades ago “Japan didn’t need answers; Japan was the answer” as the article said. The Japan which was an envy of the world is not working and becoming loathsome to the Japanese. The global decline in the economy hit Japan twice as hard than the US. Besides the overall economic situation, recently the Prime Minister quit and another one took his place. Last month’s elections proved that people are unhappy with the lack of progress. One of our friends close to some legislators agrees with us that there is not much short of a crisis that will change the situation. Michael Schuman asserts, “And yet no one in Japan is doing very much about it.” In a place with already normal crises of earthquakes and typhoons we are concerned. What will pull Japan out from under this cloud?
The church of Jesus Christ has great opportunities to bring renewed hope to people with the good news. What people are seeking in Japan is the living God that will fill their emptiness and hopelessness. Like us those short-term missionaries that have been recently working in Japan all agree that Japanese are very open right now. What a tremendous time to be in Japan! Not since the end of World War II are the people searching for answers.
Japanese culture is very concerned with saving face and will not quickly advocate risk or the possibility of failure. Radical change and models of church ministry need to be developed. What is even more concerning is that the church in Japan in some areas is equally paralyzed.
Maybe you can be involved in praying, sending, and supporting new church movements throughout Japan. Join us in praying for wisdom that the development of new church movements would be dynamic faith-driven community transforming congregations. These faith-communities can drive the gloomy clouds away and birth new hope and outlook in changed hearts.
For the full Time article see http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2005689,00.html