There are so many different methods and strategies when it comes to sharing the gospel. As interns and students at New Hope Christian College, we were asked to choose a cross cultural ministry context and do research to come up with a strategy to cultivate a ministry in that context. Because of the amount of information, I have split my findings into four parts. This is part 2 of my 4 part on my cross cultural ministry plan in Japan. I am so thankful for a platform like Wespeak.com, where I am able to openly share the things I've learned. This gives me a huge opportunity to connect with not only my peers, but the rest of the community here on Wespeak.com as well.
Christianity first arrived in Japan in 1542. It was introduced by Europeans who came from Portugal. They brought weapons with them, which was the main reason the Japanese welcomed these foreigners, and the Japanese tolerated Christianity because of this. The missionaries in Japan saw some success through the mid-1500s, with a considerable number of converts that included members of the ruling class (“Christianity in Japan,” 2020). This growth lasted until 1587 when missionaries were banned from Japan due to European conquest, which eventually led to the full ban of Christianity (“Christianity in Japan,” 2020). This forced Christians to practice their religion in secret. Although freedom of religion in Japan was promulgated in 1871 and Christianity slowly began to grow, the events of the late 16th and early 17th centuries had lasting effects on Christianity in Japan, which can still be felt to this day.
When looking at Japanese culture, it is clear that it is a highly collectivist society. Scott Moreau further explores this topic in his book, Effective Intercultural Communication: A Christian Perspective. He claims that “In collectivist societies, the family is an extended one, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and others who commonly live in proximity. This extended family becomes the in-group of an individual, and loyalty to this group is expected throughout life” (Moreau 154). My good friend and roommate, Zion Himeno, grew up in Tokyo, Japan and he further explained how prominent collectivism is there. He claimed, “Being different and standing out in our culture is not encouraged. If you are different, you are weird, and it’s easy for you to get bullied and teased because of it. Collectivism is seen prominently in our schools and in the workplace as it is driven by unity, which is a huge part of our values” (Himeno 2021). Sticking to tradition, respect, loyalty, and unity are all things that are highly valued in Japanese culture.
Something else that Himeno explained is that in Japan, they have an honor-shame culture. Moreau mentioned that in collectivist societies, individuals are expected to be loyal to their “in-groups” for life, which are their families and extended family (Moreau 154). In Japanese culture, honor and loyalty are valued highly, especially when it comes to family. This directly impacts the way an individual carries themselves, as it’s all about bringing honor to you and your family and avoiding dishonor and shame.
“Christianity In Japan”, www.japan-guide.com/e/e2298.html.
“Jul 25 - Pray For: Japan Archives.” Operation World, operationworld.org/prayer-calendar/07-25/#tab-prayer-1.
Moreau, Scott, Evvy Campbell, and Susan Greener. Effective Intercultural Communication: A Christian Perspective. Baker Academic, 2014
“A Timeline of Christianity in Japan.” Nippon.com, 2 July 2020, www.nippon.com/en/japan-data/h00597/a-timeline-of-christianity-in-japan.html.