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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Am I my brother's keeper?

I’ve recently been thinking about conflict, how we Christians usually handle it, and what might be lacking in our approach. These musings were stimulated by a conflict that I had recently with a Japanese person. The conclusions I’ve come to have been so revolutionary to my way of thinking that I wanted to share them with you, too.

In my North American mindset, I have a clear sense of boundaries: what’s mine, and what’s not. My feelings are my own. Yours are not mine. I am responsible for my…

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Chosen or Choosing?

We all know that Christians are very good at being divided and divisive. Sometimes the things they get upset about seem pretty small: the arrangement of the communion plates, the colour of the carpet—I once heard of a church splitting over the shape of the angels’ wings! Most of us roll our eyes and groan when we hear about conflicts over these small things, but what happens when we disagree on things we term theology?

In Christian circles, there is some question over whether God specially…

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Does God Cause Pain?

I've been mulling over an important idea over the past few weeks. It's stemmed from things I've seen written in several books over the years, by authors whose spiritual opinions I respect. I might be wrong in my interpretation of their words, but from what I understand, they have stated quite strongly that God does not cause suffering. He may use it, but not cause it. “[He] does not prefer and promote suffering and pain.” [1]

When I first read such statements, they seemed true. However, in…

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