Here are a few thoughts on our first few days from Tony Hodgson.
Yesterday, the first 3 members of the Karis team arrived safely in Tokyo. Though we had a few minor complications we were blessed to have a comfortable flight and a good nights rest. Megumi, Tony and myself will spend a few days in Tokyo with Megumi's parents making preparations for the rest of the Karis team that arrives on Tuesday.
Thanks for your prayers!
Friends, this is a helpful documentary I recently viewed that is helpful in many ways to reveal some of the deeper Gospel issues that begin to surface when you look at some of the bigger problems facing Japan. The focus is on the declining birth rates in Japan but I think the host does a great job of revealing the various idols that people of Japan are enslaved to. Be it money, power, control, comfort or shame, the Japanese are painting a grand picture of what a disastrous course it is to fully be given over to idolatry. Please pray for us as we head to Tokyo this weekend. Pray that the spirit would be at work in the hearts of those around us and that we would see Japan through gospel lenses. Pray that through this trip Karis would receive a vision for the future of ministry in Japan.
Pray for Shinagawa Ku 360,000 individuals reside in Shinagawa Ku with a mere 17 churches to reach them all. It is an area with rich historical significance. It also holds the headquarters for a number of electric companies meaning it is populated with very influential people in the corporate sphere. Horse races occur here as well so gambling is not uncommon. Pray that they would come to see the priceless worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
Pray for Ota Ku There are 682,000 people that live in Ota Ku with 34 churches to minister to them. This is the largest prefecture in Tokyo making up 10% of the size of all 23 prefectures. It also houses the only airport in Tokyo proper. There are many wealthy neighborhoods and gambling outlets here. Pray that they too would come to see the priceless worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
Last year we had the opportunity to meet up with Michael Oh at Christ Bible Institute and hear about the vision behind CBI. He explains well in the video below the slim presence of the gospel in Japan and the need to train leaders.
It's easy to stir the hearts of people when you share that only 0.2% of Japan's population is Christian. Sharing a vision for why people should help to send more leaders and church planters to Japan gets people excited. But, in Japan, with great need comes great cost. What does it actually cost to send leaders to Japan? To plant churches in Japan?
Last year, we met up with a church planter in the Tokyo Bay, an area that has no churches right now. We took a tour of his small 3 bedroom apartment on the 30th floor of a high-rise complex over looking his target area. He told us this small apartment that barely held his family of 6 cost him $3000 dollars a month. Our plane tickets for our trip next month cost our team of 7 over $10,000. A basic hotel room averages $100 a night, taxis cost $10 just to get in and the average movie ticket is $15 dollars. Japan is expensive.
Japan has long established itself as one of the top economies in the world and Tokyo has been listed as one of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in for over 2 decades. Much of this has to do with the relatively small size of Japan, lack of natural resources and it's economic boom in the 80's.
We need first world solutions to first world problems.
If you use twitter you may have seen the recently trending #firstworldproblems Here's an example:
I have a bandaid on my finger and it makes it harder to use my smartphone.
— First World Problems (@firstworldme) April 28, 2014
While the popular twitter trend pokes fun at the problems found only in first world countries, their are some legitimate first world problems that need first world solutions. For the global church, missions in Japan is one such problem. Last month Karis Church sent a team to Brazil to work with Jay Bauman in Rio de Janiero. Rio's average cost of living is 30% lower than that of Tokyo. That's a significant difference. If the Church is to fund gospel missions in Japan then the primary financial responsibility is going to have to come from those churches in first world countries that have the resources with which to steward.
Japan is one of the most unreached nations in our world today. With over 127 million people who have never heard the gospel before, it's safe to say, the harvest is plenty. In Matthew 9, Jesus asked his disciples to pray earnestly for the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest. Friends, let's pray for more workers to be sent to Japan and when they answer the call to go; let's be ready to empty our wallets so that the name of Jesus can be made much of in Japan.