In Ishinomaki our team was able to join the local missionaries in suffering alongside the victims of the tsunami. Just by helping them rebuild in the name of Christ has brought many to church and created interest in the gospel.
However, evangelism in Japan is notoriously difficult. One reason is because the Japanese value relationships and things that last. Thus, long term missionaries tend to have success after building relationships over a course of many years.
Down in Ube, which was unaffected by the tsunami, compassion ministries are not as common. Instead, missonaries and churches often rely on tracts, English classes, and gospel choirs.
Our team handed out tracts over several miles of neighborhoods surrounding the church today. Like the sower and the seed we pray that some will fall on good soil. Fortunately, Japanese are more receptive than Americans to tracts since they are avid readers or will read them as an act of reciprocity. However, going door to door has been adopted by others and our team saw Mormons in neighboods his week.
English is poplar in Japan. In fact it's everywhere. You'd be hard pressed to find apparel with kanji on it. Even most. Businesses have James using roman letters since they often desire to do business with America or internationally. So Japanese are usually interested in learning English; however, they want to learn it from native speakers. Most churches tend to have access to if not actual members who speaks English fluently. Thus, churches will use English classes as a form of outreach in which the primary lessons are based on the bible. Our team will help with several English classes this week.
Lastly is the gospel choir. Yes, gospel music is popular in Japan. One missionary told me that it's not uncommon for "Amazing Grace" to be sung at baseball games (they like the tune and know it has something to do with receiving a blessing). All Christian music tends to be considered gospel from hymns to contemporary worship songs, but gospel gospel is the preferred choice. Think "Sister Act" with Whoopie Goldberg. Japanese lives offen revolve around the clubs they join, but this one has robes and a moving beat. Unfortunately, they want to sing the songs as originally written in English. But this allows Christians to explain what the lyrics mean as a form of workessing.
There are no discipleship shortcuts and the culture barriers are immense, but fruit is seen by those who live among the people and take the time to build relationships with them in order to share the love of Christ.
Brett & Beth record their milestones in academia and medicine as they roam far and wide with Jethro, Edessa, and Genevieve in tow.