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…

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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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Adventures at the Grocery Store

Today I thought I would share with you about something we can all relate to: shopping at the grocery store. Stores in Japan are a little different from those in Canada and the States, so let me walk you through a typical experience here in Okinawa.

Our supermarket is called かねひで (kah-neh-hee-deh). It’s an Okinawan-owned chain, and often the stores are small even by Okinawan standards. Think: about 1/2 the size of the smallest old-style No Frills you’ve ever seen in Canada.

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Above: our local…

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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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