Why is learning Japanese so hard?

The Japanese language is extremely difficult. It routinely makes the list of "Top 5 Most Difficult Languages to Learn". Sometimes people ask us why it's so challenging. 

Usually it's helpful to illustrate the difference between Japanese and other languages using a statistic I came across once upon a time.

If you want to learn a foreign language, and be relatively fluent, you should be able to understand at least 80% of everyday conversation. The number of words required to get to 80% varies,…

Read More

Foot massages and fortunate encounters...

We were walking through a local mall one evening last month when I noticed a new store: a spa. I suddenly had a completely irrational desire to go in and see if they offered reflexology (foot massages). It was completely irrational because we already have someone who does reflexology, who (a) we’re completely satisfied with, (b) is much closer to our home, and (c) is cheaper than anyone else. Still, we went in. 

The shopkeeper was named Dana*. We soon found out that she’d been to Canada once…

Read More

The Sin Nobody Talks About

I like watching “The Orville”. The humour isn’t for everyone—it’s pretty quirky—but there’s one episode that I think each Christian should watch: the one where Kelly becomes god [1]. And before every Christian I know lynches me, please let me explain why. 

In this episode, Kelly, one of the starship crew members accidentally comes into contact with a less-developed alien civilization. She interacts briefly with a few people and then returns back to her ship. The planet exists in an accelerated…

Read More

Sharing the Message of Jesus in Japan - Part II

Earlier this month, I talked about some of the principles that are most important when sharing the good news of Jesus with the people of Japan. Today, I thought I would share a concrete example of what this can look like. It’s taken from a short talk that I gave at last year’s Christmas party. I’ve similar talks a few times since, and have been told by several people that this approach has gone straight to their hearts.

Where necessary, I have included a few notes of explanation about the…

Read More

Sharing the Message of Jesus with Japanese Stoics - Part I

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…

Read More