A tech and automobile giant.
A country filled with beautiful landscapes and colorful cities.
Even the simplest of tasks is steeped in ritual, each step is intentional, done carefully and its own time. A simple cup of coffee could take up to 20 minutes to prepare, like we saw in this live Instagram video from Pastor Sharo.
In this land filled with so much, how do you preach the gospel to a people that have everything? This is the dilemma Pastor Sharo and the Far Flung Tin Can missions team found themselves in during their recent trip to Japan.
Japan is a land that is mostly unchurched. Christianity was banned in the country in the year 1614. The religious leaders were severely persecuted, beheaded for their beliefs. However, getting rid of the leaders wasn’t enough for Japanese authorities. They wanted to root the religion right out of people’s hearts. Their solution to this was something known as a fumie. A fumie was a brass image of Jesus, usually set in a wooden board.
During the time of religious persecution, the people were made to step on the image, believers and non-believers alike. A moment of hesitation when ordered to tread on the image, could cost you your life. But more often, Christians who refused to trample the image of Jesus were tortured. It is said that doctors were kept close by so that if a Christian being tortured looked like they were about to die, the doctor would nurse them back to health so that they could be tortured all over again! This agenda of terror must have worked because while the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873, a BBC article in 2019 reported that only 1% of Japan’s population of 126 million people profess to be Christians.
In this land, where believing in Jesus is an uncommon thing, how do you shift the atmosphere so that the people are receptive to the gospel? Pastor Sharo describes a moment during the trip where she led a group into a mall to try to tell people about Jesus. No one with her spoke the language. They had no way of personally speaking to anyone so all they did was stand in the middle of the mall and sing. They began with Judah, with praise. And while people were unfailingly polite, they didn’t get much of a response. But Pastor Sharo said that soon, she noticed the strangest thing. Tiny children were stopping to listen to them. There were four-year-olds dragging their parents over to the group to listen to the praise. She continues to say that wherever the team went throughout their trip, they got into the habit of singing and over and over the same thing happened, young children were drawn to them. And the spirit of the Lord spoke to Pastor Sharo and said: “THIS generation - do not be discouraged that this nation won’t hear your Word because I am raising up THIS generation to be drawn to the name of Jesus. Japan belongs to Jesus! There is a nation rising up that knows the sound of worship. They are drawn to the name of Jesus whether they want to be or not.”
Hear Pastor Sharo tell the story herself in this short snippet from the sermon Intentional Jesus.
There are some places that even with the best of intentions, only Jesus can step into and make a difference. Where there might be hopelessness, there is always Jesus. There is territory that only He can make a difference in. We trust in Him to help us walk in Jesus Only territory.