Belew William Akemi 1990 Japan

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  • 8/10/2019 Belew William Akemi 1990 Japan

    1/4

    ASIA RE-VISITED

    5

    Bill

    & Akemi

    Belew

    Apoorfarmer

    and

    a rich man both

    died

    and went to heaven . Th ey were

    met at the gate to heaven by St. Peter.

    St .

    Peter

    did no t notice th e

    poor

    farmer.

    He took the

    rich

    man into heaven and

    locked the gates. Outside the poor

    farmer heard the angels playing

    instruments

    and

    singing songs . When

    St. Peter came back

    ou t

    he saw

    th e

    poor

    farmer and took him into heaven. The

    angels welcomed him. But there was

    no singing and no playing. The poor

    farmer asked why he wasn't welcomed

    as the

    rich man was.

    St . Peter

    answered, Poor farmers like you come

    to heaven every day. However, a r ich

    man comes

    maybe

    only

    once

    in a

    hundred

    years. ^

    Can Japan

    Be

    Reached

    F o r

    J e su s

    Oh, how I

    want

    to

    say

    Yes to the

    above question. But, is

    th e

    answer

    yes?

    Japan has

    been a traditionally

    difficult field. There a re

    some

    very fo r

    midable obstacles

    that

    e xis t whic h

    might prevent me, or

    any

    worker in

    Japan,

    from saying, Yes, Japan can

    be

    reached

    for Jesus. But , oh, how I d

    like to sa y yes.

    One o bs ta cle is

    the apparen t

    wea lth o f the Japanese . Only in

    Japan can people afford to pay

    30/gallon for ice cream, 8/pound for

    hamburger and over 5/gallon for

    milk. The average income for a family

    of four in Japan is about 55,000 a year.

    In

    Tokyo, the most expensive city in

    the

    world, the average income is

    83,000. These averages

    are

    second

    only to America where

    the

    average is

    66,000 a year. (Bridgeport, Con-

    (128) necticut 112,000 a

    year)2

    Trying to

    4 win a person whose pockets are full of

    iapan

    by Bil l Be lew

    dollars, in our case yen, is like trying to

    get the camel through the

    eye

    of the

    needle.

    However, the problem is notjust

    th e

    wealth ofthe

    Japanese.

    The

    problem is

    what it costs to keep a missionary and

    his family on the field

    and

    paid for in

    American dollars. Living

    and

    service

    link expenses for a missionary family

    of four in th e Tokyo area could amount

    to well over 100,000 a year. The

    churches in America ei ther can t or

    won't put out this kind of money to

    support a missionary in

    Japan.

    We need more

    workers

    in

    Japan

    both missionary and

    Japanese national. In 1984 there

    were 33 missionaries in

    Japan.

    Of

    these, 23weremarried and here with

    their families. Ten were single. As of

    this writing, there are 25 missionaries

    in Japan 20married couples and 5

    singles. Of these 25 missionaries. 10

    are in their 60s or 70s. More than half

    of the 44

    paid

    Japanese ministers in

    Japan areover50as

    well.^

    Thenumber

    of missionaries is dwindling fast. The

    Japanese paid ministry is not far

    behind.

    To my knowledge, there are

    NO recruits

    preparing

    to come to

    Japan at this time. They just can't

    raise

    the

    necessary support. Also,

    the

    only Bible college of the Christ ian

    Churches/Churches of Christ in

    Japan has

    14

    students in its entire 4

    yea r

    program

    The

    Japanese

    church

    does

    not

    appear

    to

    be

    strong. For every 41

    churches in America,

    there

    is on e

    church in

    Japan.

    For every 81 paid

    ministers

    i n Ame ri ca,

    there

    is one

    Japanese preacher. And, for every 209

    Bible college students in America,

    there is only one Bible college student

    in Japan.'' The severely deficient work

    m o

    Niigata

    Toky

    force

    that exists in Japan

    is

    another obstacle to reaching the

    million (plus) Japanese.

    Even the Japanese cannot affo

    buyland in their owncountry. Ap

    land

    in

    Tokyo

    the

    size

    ofthis

    maga

    would cost more than 36,000 In

    country, where welive, an acre of

    costs

    1.9

    million. In the

    developing area of our city i t' s a

    7.5 million/acre. Churches ca

    buy land of sufficient size and p

    church

    building

    onit thatwould h

    a suffic ient number of people w

    giving

    would

    support a full

    preacher.

    Without fulltime

    Chris

    workers, growth is stymied.

    Japanese churches only grow

    membership of around 30 peop

    thatisall their building will allow

    Tacking them

    in .

    ' Thisparable uiaswritten byJunko Oga

    a non-Christian student of

    mine,

    assignment.

    It is

    used

    with

    permission.

    - Figures (or Japan were taken from t

    IM/DAS, a

    Japanese-type

    ALMANAC

    figures forAmerica were

    taken from

    a

    M

    edition

    ofthe Cincinnati

    Enquirer.

    3 These figures were taken from th

    Anniversary edition ofJAPANMISSIONS

    is an excellent overview of the history

    Church ofChrist/Christian Church inJap

    covers the period 1883-1983 and waswn

    Mark Maxcy. a 40-year and still going

    missionary

    to

    Japan.

    Thesefigures werebased on figures

    tak

    the 1987edition of the Directory of the M

  • 8/10/2019 Belew William Akemi 1990 Japan

    2/4

    Final ly, t h e r e

    is one

    o t h e r

    major obstacle to Japan being

    reached

    fo r

    Jesus the

    prevailing

    attitude

    t h a t J a p a n is a res is tant

    f ield. This is held by the missionary

    and Japanese national alike. Many

    worker s here

    have

    a defeat is t a t t itude

    or have

    the

    feeling somebody

    has

    to

    be here,

    i t might

    as well be me. No one

    expects

    g re at th in gs

    to

    be

    accom

    plished. And

    they

    aren't.

    The overall history

    of

    th e church in

    Japan

    tends

    to

    support

    th e Japan is a

    r e s i s t a n t

    fie ld

    mindse t . F r o m 1973 to

    1983 the Christian Church/Church of

    [ Christsawan estimated growth rateof

    19 6 The

    prot st nt churches in

    general in Japan saw an

    estimated

    growth of 22 .5 If a church, any

    church,

    were

    to keep in it s fold only

    those people who were born to already

    existing

    members, that

    church ca n

    expect to grow by 25 every 10 years.

    The Christian Church/Church

    of

    [Christ in Japan is not w inning or

    keeping

    families.

    It's

    no t growing

    even

    a t a m i n i m a l

    r a t e .

    C a n J a p a n be

    r e a c h e d

    fo r

    J e s u s ? With the se hard

    statistics in

    your pockets and a real awareness of

    Ihe above obstacles,

    what do you think

    ^

    the answer to

    that

    question?

    & I think

    the

    answer is YES. A

    ^finite

    YES. A

    resounding YES

    ^ is my

    opinion

    that the present

    |fonditions in Japan

    offer

    a

    great

    potential for the church to grow and

    B^ve. I

    may

    be

    young

    and

    six

    years

    K i th e mission field may not have

    been

    |ng

    enough for

    my enthusiasm to

    Pave waned

    away completely. I

    may

    gffen just have youthful optimism. But,

    |KI am

    wrong,

    I prefer

    to be wrong

    on

    Beside of expecting too much from the

    Ipird

    of the

    Harvest

    than from not

    Btoecting enough. Following are some

    nny reasons for feel ing conditions are

    1 ^

    I.*

    Church growth exper ts say,

    In

    tightly knit

    societies,

    where

    people

    consciousness is high

    and

    all

    marriages

    take

    place

    within

    th e

    segment of

    society

    concerned, th e

    chain

    of rel at ionship

    is particularly

    s tr ong. Once Christianity has been es

    tablished,

    once

    a couple of

    thousand

    have become

    Christian,

    tens of

    thousands of b r idges (means

    to

    reach

    others)

    become

    available . The

    potential

    for

    explosive growth is

    high.' ' This is Japan.

    T h e m is s i o n a r i e s w h o h a v e

    s e r v e d t i l l now c a n be given

    a loud

    a n d

    long

    W ELL D ON E They

    have done

    th e

    hard

    part.

    They have

    wedged

    Christianity into this tightly

    woven society.

    The estimated

    number

    of

    members in

    t he C h ur ch o f

    C h r i s t

    in

    1983

    w a s

    s o m e w h e r e

    be tween

    2- 3

    th o u s a n d . T he

    f o u n d a t i o n

    h a s

    b e e n

    laid.

    Tens

    of thousands of

    possibilities

    exist fo r

    growth.

    The existing

    resources

    need only to be tapped

    and

    great growth

    can

    be

    accomplished

    in

    J a p a n .

    The p re se nt Ch ri st ia n

    populace needs to be stimulated fo r

    evangelism.

    The

    current Japanese

    work force needs

    to be

    m o t i v a t e d

    to

    save the

    lost.

    Aren't

    they

    already? No,

    they are

    not

    Can they be

    motivated?

    YES, they can

    Continuing

    erosion

    o f belief in

    religions creates a v ac uum o f faith.

    The Japanese ar e becoming less and

    less reliant on their religion.

    Saying

    that

    Japan is al l Buddhist or Shinto is

    like saying

    America

    is al l Christian.

    The

    percentage of

    serious,

    practicing

    Buddhists in J a p a n might

    be

    comparable to

    th e

    percentage of

    serious,

    practicing Christians in

    Amer ica . Obviously, no

    statistics

    exist

    to

    confirm

    this. It is

    only

    my

    personal

    guesstimation.

    For

    th e most part , when a Japanese

    calls

    a temple priest to conduct a

    funeral or a shinto priest to perform a

    wedding, it is much more a cultural

    requirement, a tradition, a reflex than

    i t i s a n a ct o f fa i th. I t is

    m u c h

    l ike

    t h e

    wife

    of

    th e

    town d runk c allin g

    th e

    preacher to bury her husband . Some

    body

    has to do i t.

    There most certainly is a vacuum of

    faith here. The J apanese pursui tof

    th e

    mighty

    yen

    is

    indicativeof their efforts

    to

    fill

    t h a t void. I f

    t h e

    c h u r c h

    c a n

    o f f e r

    a t imely message, and

    it

    can,

    th e void

    can

    be fil led. Great growth c an t ak e

    place.

    The Bible

    shows

    a

    steady

    p r e f e r e n c e

    fo r t h e

    common

    man.

    The

    Bible says, Did

    not God

    choose

    th e poor

    of this

    world

    to be rich in faith

    and heirs of th e

    k ingdom which

    he

    promised to t hose who

    love

    him?

    Statis tics are deceiving . As noted

    previously,

    th e J apaneseappear to be a

    very wealthy

    nation.

    What

    those

    s t a ti s t ic s d o n t s h o w

    a r e

    t h e

    more

    t h a n

    65% of

    the

    Japanese who

    are

    economically below the national

    average. Over 72 million people in

    Japan

    ca n be

    grouped

    into

    th e lower

    middle class and below economicclass.

    From the eyes ofaThirdWorld

    country

    th e

    Japanese may be

    called

    rich. But,

    in their own eyes and hearts

    they

    feel

    they have less than

    average

    they

    are

    lacking. Nearly

    al l

    of these have

    no

    faith and can be called searching for

    something to fil l the

    void

    in

    their

    lives.

    '

    Growth

    rates were

    computed

    by me

    from figures

    taken

    f rom the

    Japanese

    January 1990

    edition of

    the Christ ian newspaper.

    This figure comes from the sy lla bu s o n

    Foundations of Church Growth by Dr. C. Peter

    Wagner.

    ' The se q uo te s

    are taken

    from

    Donald

    A.

    M c G a u r a n s b o o k U N D E R S T A N D I N G

    CHURCH GROWTH

    1980 edit ion,

    reprinted in

    1 9 8 8 . t

    8 Ib id .

    9 Ib id .

    i

    A

    H II I

    w n

    '-.f

    We take

    our

    students/friends

    mountain climbing,

    skiing, cycling,

    boating and all

    ofthese

    end

    in a

    Bible study.

  • 8/10/2019 Belew William Akemi 1990 Japan

    3/4

    The Japanese think wealth is what is

    lacking in their lives. I know

    what

    is

    lacking the truth oftheWord ofGod.

    Conditions couldn't

    be

    better

    fo r

    potential growth in the church in

    Japan. Or could they?

    The

    number

    of workers

    is

    still

    dwindling.

    The churches in America

    still

    can't

    or won't

    pay

    out $100,000 a

    year to

    support

    a missionary and his

    family. And, the present missionary

    force is

    literally

    dying

    out.

    Two ways to get new workers. Joel

    Likins(left) cameas an internwithhiswife.

    Debi.

    They have decided to stay. Benji

    (right),

    my

    oldest

    son,

    is 8

    years old

    and

    already bi-lingual. Joel is a great

    fellow

    worker. Benji, I hope, will be

    P erhaps th e

    churches

    in

    America

    d o n t

    n e e d

    to p y o u t

    more money.

    The churches ofJapan

    are enjoying great physical wealth.

    This is t he Chu rch o fChrist

    in

    Japan.

    Land purchased by missionaries with

    mission monies

    in th e immediate post

    war period now has appreciated to a

    tremendous value. Just today,

    one

    Church

    of Christ reported

    they sold

    land they

    had

    worshipped on since the

    post war days for $12 million. Read

    that again $12million. My mind is

    boggled bywhat can bedonewith

    that

    amount of money for

    the

    kingdom of

    God in Japan. And, this is only one

    piece

    of land owned by one church.

    Let's pray most diligently this church

    has

    a

    vision

    for

    al l

    of Japan.

    Many other pieces of land are

    owned by missions. Some of these

    pieces ofland have small churcheson

    them some don't.

    The

    physical value

    ofthese

    pieces

    ofland willdumbfound

    you.

    One mission

    has

    sold

    a

    piece

    of

    land and has the

    money received from

    this

    sale available

    at

    a very low

    interes t rate to new missions . Much,

    much more of this kind of thing can be

    done.

    The

    physical value of

    the

    existing land that housesmany of the

    (130)

    churches

    we

    have

    in

    some ofthe larger

    6 cities is much, much, much . . . more

    than adequate to support all future

    missions and their workin Japan. Of

    course, the existing churchesmust not

    be sacrificed for the sake of reaching

    the rest

    of

    the

    country, but some

    sacrifice may be necessary. In my

    opinion most

    allthe

    necessary

    funding

    for futureworkers in

    Japan

    exists right

    here in Japan. Prudent, mind-

    stretching, challenging.Godly

    wisdom

    is

    required

    in the management of

    existing

    resources.

    Another

    means

    by which

    future

    workers

    can

    come to

    Japan

    is by

    the

    self-support

    route tent-

    making, ifyouwant to call it that. I

    teach at a university, college and high

    school. Additionally, a fellow worker

    and

    I

    have established our own

    English language school. have

    one additional family and a single girl

    working with us. All of us are here at

    noexpenseto the churchesin America.

    However,

    being

    a

    tent-maker

    missionary

    has

    its own bag of

    problems

    that this article cannot

    address. But, nevertheless, we

    have

    seen results for our efforts since we

    came. Weare enjoying a

    3600%

    growth

    rate/decade compared to the national

    average of 9.6%/decade for

    (Dhurches

    of

    Christ

    and

    22 /decade for

    protestant churches in Japan.

    I

    have

    been invited to teach

    English

    in Khabarovsk, Siberia, U.S.S.R. and

    Harbin, China. These are two places

    the

    traditional missionary by

    traditional

    means

    could

    not

    go. I can.

    Two Russian friends who are sailo rs

    whose ship comes into Niigata several

    times

    a year.

    God has opened the door. Who wants

    to

    go? Who

    wantsto

    help?

    Iflgo.who

    will take my place in Japan? Weneed

    more workers . More workers can come

    and

    at no expense to the churches of

    Amer ica .

    The self-support route is indeed a

    viable alternative to the worker

    shortage problem. There are man

    problems with the self-support route

    but none that are insurmountable.

    We still cannot buy land that wi

    house a church with enough people t

    give enough to

    support

    a fulltim

    worker. Maybewecan't in thecity,bu

    we can in the country I realize it ma

    not

    be realistic to expect

    the

    resource

    tied

    up

    in land

    owned

    by

    missions

    an

    church groups

    in the

    cities to

    be

    mad

    available to future workers wanting t

    reach Japan in places outside the bi

    ci t ies .

    Another

    considerat ion, s ince

    on

    church

    of20-30

    peoplecannot support

    preacher fulltime,

    perhaps

    3or4 sud

    churches placed strategically in

    particular land area could. Th

    preacher

    would

    then be a circuit

    ride

    preacher ministering to the 3 or

    congregations. Or a tent-maker typ

    preacher/missionary could be give

    the responsibility for one

    20-30

    peop

    group. Because of

    the

    time limitatio

    the tent-maker preacher has, this