Area: 377,801 sq km
A 3,000 km arc of four large islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu) and 3,000 small islands in NW Pacific. Mountainous; only 13% can be cultivated.
Population: 126,995,411 Annual Growth: -0.07%
Official language: Japanese Languages: 16 All languages
Largest Religion: Buddhist
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The missions vision of Japanese Christians is noteworthy. There are up to 300 Japanese serving in 34 lands around the world. However, churches generally have little vision for missions and little understanding of the challenges facing cross-cultural missionaries. Mission training programmes for prospective Japanese missionaries are increasing, both in Japanese and in English. The Japanese Overseas Missions Association has a membership of over 20 Japanese agencies.
Mission to Japan Japan is the largest unevangelized nation that is completely open to missionaries. Yet, due to spiritual, socio-cultural, linguistic and financial difficulties, becoming an effective minister of the gospel is a long, hard process of adaptation.
a) Cooperation among mission agencies has been limited in the past and, while improved, still needs greater unity today. JEMA is a coordinating body for 46 mission organizations, representing over 1,100 missionaries. Most are involved in church planting and evangelism, but real church growth is elusive. Pray for strategic insight, for the anointing of the Spirit and for fruitful collaboration. The profusion of agencies and nationalities defies listing here. Largest missions: OMF, TEAM, Pac Rim/IMB, SEND, JCCC(CCCI), MTW), BIM, Asian Access, Every Nation, UMC, WEC, AoG USA, Mission to Unreached Peoplesand Navigators.
b) Opportunities for missionary service are many, the most needful being evangelism, teaching, and planting and serving churches. Many missionaries are involved with existing congregations, assisting them to become reproductive through church planting and discipleship training. Teaching English is a wide-open door for tentmakers, with hundreds if not thousands of positions available. Long-term missionaries are the greater need because of the years needed to acquire the language and understand the culture.
c) The growing contribution of Korean missionaries is remarkable in light of historic animosities; they need special prayer cover to adapt well and have effective ministries.
d) Japanese returnees who became believers overseas are a hugely strategic group. Over a million Japanese live abroad; their numbers are greatest in the USA, Brazil and China. Every year, over 1,600 return home having encountered Jesus, many with a missional burden for their homeland. Japanese who return home having become Christians abroad struggle to integrate into the native church scene. Japanese Christian Fellowship Network, Japan Christian Link, Reaching Japanese for Christ, Friends International UK and several other ministries focus on this challenge. Pray for good coordination between ministries reaching Japanese abroad and those helping returnees to reintegrate into Japanese life. Pray for returning Christians to have a major impact on church life.
For an additional 12 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Japan.