Sharing the Message of Jesus with Japanese Stoics

As Peter and I continue to minister as missionaries in Japan, we are learning a variety of lessons on sharing the good news of Jesus with people of different cultures. Sometimes the Bible verses that we take for granted in North America—verses like John 3:16—aren’t the most appropriate to use when introducing people of a different culture to Jesus. 

In Japan, Bible dust jackets do not commonly display John 3:16. Instead they use a verse from Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless, meaningless, everything…

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The Skill of Rest

In Japan, people are often workaholics. Much of this is cultural—they don’t want to appear lazy in comparison to the people around them. They want to be good citizens and make valuable contributions to their companies. Some people have taken this so much to the extreme that now the Japanese government is concerned, and is taking steps to reduce the number of cases of 過労死 (“kah-row-ooo-she”), or “death by overwork”. 

You can tell what a culture values by the number of words that it has to…

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Valerie's Trip to the Hairdresser

When I was a little girl, my mum went grey before all the other mums. It probably didn’t help that she was 37 when she had me. New friends invariably asked if she was my grandmother, but she was self-confident enough that she didn’t care and never tried to hide her true hair colour. However, I decided that if I were to follow her into premature greying, I would dye my hair. Thirty years passed, which included several stints of pain, and I have indeed gone prematurely grey—even earlier than my…

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A Look Back: Day 12

After eleven days back in Japan, it was hard not to feel like a failure. Everything...we...did...involved...so...much...struggle—and waiting. You see, in Japan officials are very particular about the order that things happen in. There's no expediting a process. If you need a certain piece of ID to get something set up, there are often no alternate pieces of ID that you can use. If a certain set of steps is prescribed, you have to follow the pre-defined method. In a culture that emphasizes…

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Oba san's Funeral

 

We recently had the privilege of taking part in a funeral for a church member who passed away. Over the past four years, we've attended several funerals, but this one was special. The lady who died (Oba san*) had been a really integral part of the church, and was like a mother or grandmother to most of the rest of us. 

I have two memories of her that I especially cherish. The first is that when my back was injured, she faithfully prayed for me every day for more than a year until I was…

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