Japan is often described as a missionary graveyard. The hard work and effort put into sharing the gospel often seems to bear little spiritual fruit and is discouraging. With Christians making up less than 1% of the population, churches are small, and many pastors and members are aging. Yet, as we spend time visiting the Free Methodist churches here in the Osaka area, we are hopeful. We are meeting many faithful and faith-filled brothers and sisters in Christ.
Here are a few of their stories giving evidence of God’s Spirit at work in Japan:
- Seeing a growing need for unexpected pregnancy care, a midwife opened a pregnancy center in Kobe in 2018. Her work is gaining recognition, and the government is showing interest in using her work as a model on a national level.
- Earlier last year, a woman and her daughter visited a small FM church in their neighborhood for the first time. After Bible study with the pastor, they professed faith in Christ and were baptized on Christmas Eve 2021. These were the first baptisms in 16 years!
- A retired schoolteacher first heard the gospel while fixing his radio. He listened to a Christian radio program and then sought out a local church. These events happened when he was a teenager, but he has faithfully served the Lord and the church for nearly 60 years.
- One young woman has been attending and actively serving her local church for several years. Recently, she approached us expressing a desire to join our leadership training planned for spring 2022.
- One new pastor attended seminary after raising three children. She was ordained and began pastoring in April 2021. She was the pastor responsible for leading the mother and daughter mentioned above to Christ and baptized them.
These stories are a reminder to us of Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV).
As missionaries to Japan, we desire to encourage and equip faithful servants like these to grow as leaders who, in turn, raise new faithful leaders. Please pray God will give the church perseverance and renewed trust in His perfect timing for a harvest in Japan.