Ministering in Japan
The Good News that I believe in, is the news of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, coming down to the world to take the punishment for sins and to give us new life. Sharing this news with people is not easy.
And it’s not easy to do in any country. If a person has one idea of things, they usually don’t want to let go of it. If they hadn’t even heard about God before, it will take time to suddenly introduce him into their lives. If they strongly think everything was made by chance, then they won’t suddenly agree with the idea of God making the world and everything in it. If they strongly believe Jesus was just a moral man, they won’t suddenly start saying that Jesus was God’s Son. I have learned these things from ministering to friends and family in Japan.
1. Show, Don’t Tell
This sounds like a piece of advice for writers, but in this case, it’s not. When you are just starting to minister, you show an example of who Christ is, of what the love, grace, kindness, and peace of God looks like. Of course, no one can fully imitate Christ, because we are all sinners. But if we show God’s love and grace to the people around us, they will start to wonder what we have that’s different from them. They’ll want to know.
If you were walking with a friend and a sibling in the supermarket, for example, to show God’s love you could let the friend or sibling choose the snack.
Or if your friend was leaving, and you were playing video games, a good thing would be to stop the videogame, and wave until you can’t see your friend anymore. It’s just little things like that get people wondering.
Then, you can start sharing the wonderful majesty of God, his love, his great acts, and his simple greatness!
2. Don’t Be Too Aggressive
This probably mostly happens in Japan, but whenever I’m telling a friend or adult about Jesus or introducing him/her to the Bible, I have to keep their culture in mind. I talk more about Japanese culture in this post: https://lifeinkyoto.home.blog/2019/04/13/3-differences/. Japanese are very polite and tend to keep their feelings to themselves.
So you have to share slowly. You can’t just outright state the truth and say that it’s true. I made this mistake when I was still new in my faith. It would be natural for a Japanese person to keep their feelings in, but if you didn’t remember that. What if you found out later that they were very offended by something you said.
Remember, this is a culture where if you joke about someone’s hat, it’s possible that they would be hurt, instead of laughing and joking back as an American would.
This is true for all ministering in every place: respect the other person’s belief and standpoint, and share with kindness, not force. Remember the story of the north wind and the sun? The north wind and the sun competed who could take off a traveler’s coat. The north wind blew hard so the coat would blow off, which only made matters worse because the traveler pulled his coat on tighter because of the cold. The sun, however, shined its light gently and steadily, not with force, and finally, the traveler took off his coat because of the heat.
Jesus did what the sun did in this story. He didn’t raise daggers and spears, demanding people to believe or he would send lightning from heaven. Which he could have done. But he didn’t. Even as he was being mocked and tortured by the Romans for an innocent deed, even when the Jews, his own people, crucified him, he continued to demonstrate love to people.
As it was prophesied in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” (ESV)
And God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son. He wasn’t a forceful dictator that brought soldiers to convert the people.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)
3. Don’t Be Rushed
It takes time to learn something that you haven’t even heard of before, or haven’t thought about. It takes time to throw away the beliefs that you’ve never really questioned. It takes time to cut away the steel on a hard heart.
So don’t be rushed. Walk with your friend in peace, love, and understanding. It won’t be easy. But boy, I can tell you that it will be worth it.
So, that’s it for this week’s post. I hope this inspired you to want to share with the people around you who don’t know the Good News yet. If you have had an experience where you talked about Jesus with a friend, I would very much like to hear that!
Bye, and may God bless you!