“Sushi, geisha, ninjas and samurai... hot springs, green tea and cherry blossoms: welcome to the fascinating Land of the Rising Sun!”
After decades of evangelisation by foreign missionaries, the church in Japan is still very small, with an average attendance of about 30 people at Sunday services. Many cities and towns in Japan still have only one church or no church at all. Many of the existing churches are struggling to survive; this is especially true in the countryside where you will often find churches with only four to ten believers.
Another major challenge for the church today is ageing pastors, with few or no successors. It is said that the average age of all Japanese pastors is between 60 and 70 years old. Since many of them are now retiring, the number of churches without pastors is increasing, and there are fewer young people willing to take the challenge of becoming pastors. Bible schools are closing due to lack of students. There is a great need to encourage and mobilise young Christians to be involved in ministry.
OM’s ministry in Japan started in the 1970s when a few Japanese Christians joined the OM Ships. Then, in 1992, OM opened an office in Japan with the goal of sending more Japanese into world missions. In recent years the OM Japan team has been growing. We have started to see more and more foreign workers come to Japan and help us in the enormous task of reaching out to the Japanese people.
OM Japan wants to help strengthen the generally weak churches in Japan. We would like to see them growing and establishing fruitful ministries. Sending out Japanese to the mission field in an encouragement for the churches across Japan to be involved in the Great Commission. After returning from the mission field, these potential future church leaders have matured in faith, gained cross-cultural experience and received training for their service in the Japanese church.
We're also committed to work within and alongside existing churches. Our ministry focus are churches in the Hokuriku area in Western Japan, but we also have a team in Miyagi prefecture that ministers to communities which have been affected by the tsunami cause by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.
What we do
- 4 Friends Network in Miyagi: Sowing seeds of the Gospel in communities of North-Eastern Japan by caring for those still recovering from the disaster in 2011
- Student Ministry in Kanazawa: Being salt and light on campus at the Hokuriku Gakkuin University in Kanazawa pointing students to Jesus
- Tonami Bible Church: Helping a still very young church to connect and reach out to the community through English classes for children, Bible studies and special events
- Mobilising the church: Encourage the Japanese church to be involved in world mission by praying for the nations, supporting and sending workers for the global harvest
How you can get involved:
PRAY: Pray for the country of Japan
Only 0.22% of the population attends church. The churches, and the country as a whole, are facing huge challenges. Pray that the Japanese will turn to God in their despair. Pray that God will intervene and redeem their land.
GIVE: Support a growing ministry
Many churches in Japan have financial difficulties and some even struggle to support their own pastor. Your gift allows OM Japan to serve the churches without being an additional financial burden to them.
GO: Come and join us!
If God has put a desire in your heart for the people of Japan, then please prayerfully consider how you can make yourself available to serve Him in Japan. The growing team needs help and is looking forward to seeing more people join them.
- 1-2 weeks: Take the challenge and come for a short summer or winter outreach in the fascinating country of Japan. Get a taste of the rich culture and share the Gospel in a variety of ways with the Japanese people.
- 2-3 years: Have you served with OM or another organisation in missions before and are ready for more? Make new friends and learn the Japanese language. Assisting a growing church, you can help make an eternal difference to the lost people of Japan.
- Long term (3+ years): Use your professional skills in the OM Japan home office or as a ministry leader discipling, training and equipping locals and foreigners for world missions (knowledge of the Japanese language is recommended or else a commitment to reach fluency is required).
Contact info: www.omjapan.org/contact
Japan today is known as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and yet its spiritual poverty is staggering. Although some figures say that 90% of Japanese are Shintoist and 85% are (also!) Buddhist, most Japanese would claim no personal religion at all. Evangelical Christians account for less than 0.5% of the population.
Although the suicide rate fell below 30,000 every year–it remains among the highest in the world–because people have no hope beyond this present life. It’s estimated that around 1 Mio. people or 1% of the population are isolating themselves from society, which is called Hikikomori. It is feared that another 1.5 Mio. are on the verge of becoming Hikikomori. Low birthrates, lack of immigration and increasing life expectancy lead to an ageing population that is now slowly declining. This will result in depopulated rural areas and explosion of cost to keep caring for the elderly.
- Japan's population is 127 million and is declining due to low birth rates
- There are about 7,900 churches in Japan, which means one for every 16,000 people
- On average, about 35 people regularly attend church, that is just 0.22% of the population
- Each year, there is about one reported baptism for each church
- 24 cities, 44 large towns and more than half of all other towns and villages are currently without a church
- There are about 2,000 missionaries in Japan, just one missionary for every 63,000 Japanese
Source: Operation Japan Prayer Guide CD, Fourth Edition, 2013