Why Japanese?

The Largest Unreached People Group (Joshua Project, 2005)

Only 0.04% Christians!

Annual Suicide Rate: >30,000

100-300 new religion registered each year (Operation World, 2000)

The battle is fierce, Time is SHORT! Please RESPONSE, Please PRAY!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What is taking place in the psychology state in the mind of Japanese to accept Christ?

Perceptions and values in relation to the gospel work in Japan

Risk: decisions and responsibility
When Giddens introduced Risk, he said tradition and habit replaced by diverse claims to (provisional) expertise requiring individual judgments. And when it involves individual judgment, it involves a responsibility that comes with the choice.

In Japan, along its’ way long of history of anti-Christian attitude, even if one would start to see light in the teaching of Christ, it involves a decision to make and a responsibility to follow if they choose to be saved. In Japan, it takes a membership to be registered whether in the shrine, the temple or the church. There is no secret hiding place. Everything is transparent. Therefore, when Japanese decided to accept Jesus into their lives, they are taking a risk. To the society, and its root is deep within every culture, every nation: a loss of social harmony is a moral danger, a threat to our value.

Social harmony: traditional values and challenges (3 settings: the society of Japan, caste system and Pharisees, Christian’s denominations)
As the missionaries in Japan began to query the standard of believes, the set of values of the Japanese in terms of right and wrong, they were often confused with their many gray areas. Right and wrong depends on its specific time, space and condition. There are many grey areas, where the foreigners find it hard to accommodate. Christianity is absolute. There is only one way to God, one way to Heaven. And that is through Jesus Christ. No grey area in this. However, in the traditional practice of Japan, people were brought up with a set of value that was very much considered to the feelings of others. They are very polite people that anything which is to break the social harmony is a crime. So the set of value of Japanese in right and wrong would be antagonizing one’s feeling. Humiliation would cause the Japanese to give up their lives and that is an honorable way of death. This is the truth of a value of society.

Let’s translate the same pattern of thought to the struggles in dealing with caste system in India, or even back to the Old Testaments as how the Pharisees had rebuked Christ, we are dealing with the same thing, which is the value of a society that feel hard to accept challenges to the traditional believes. Social harmony prefers stability. When a new set of values is introduced to the society, and the society is not yet ready to take in the new set of values, it creates instability. People begin to debate, to experiment. This is harmful to a society which is highly social bond. A nail that is stood up must be hammered down. Trying out a new concept that is against everybody’s value is a threat to the social harmony.

Let not try so hard to fit in to the pattern of thinking of this passage. There are many different denominations in Christian practice today. There are Baptists, Methodists, Brethrens Churches, Independent Churches, and Assemblies of God etc. Some moves heavily in prophetic era, some put heavy concentration in words, some put more concentration in experiencing God, and so much more different practice, different emphasize. All these had not loose one focus that is Christ our Savior, the only Son, the only way to Heaven, the one that died and rose for us that took away all our sins, the living God! And that is how we would still basically hold together as brothers and sisters in Christ. But we are not talking about the value of God that we hold dearly today. We talk about practices. Can we speak in tongues in the midst of those who hold doubts to this spiritual gift? Can we sit down and be solemn as others are rejoicing in the presence of Christ. Think carefully before we answer this question. I am talking about exercising this in every service while you are the only charismatic in the midst of the conservatives, or being the only conservative in the midst of the charismatic people.

The value of doing different thing in a society might not be wrong, but it breaks the harmony. It is hard to blend in while you hold a different set of value in a society. It is the same set of value that creates the bond.

Ku Klux Khan is a good example in trying to reject another value system, where it was not even alien to them.

Calculation: risk vs. probabilities – it’s harmful but it might not happen to me!
Let’s take it back again to the gospel work in Japan. Do we expect people to step out of line with their peers and workmates by introducing Jesus to them? If that is so, then we must consider is there a need to change? Are the benefits of change implying to the society or individual? When we talk about psychology in medicine, for a man with a high coronary risk score maybe 20 or even 30 more times as likely to suffer a heart attack as a man with a very low score, to consider the need to make radical changes in his lifestyle, then he needs to know is some absolute measure of his chances, and by how much he could hope to improve them in the foreseeable future

What I am trying to emphasize here is our perception and attribution might not be in parallel. It is our experience, context, belief systems that driven us to make judgments and decisions. Our values and needs stimuli the judgments that we make. For example, a smoker might think, “Would the benefits of health greater than the social stigma of the circle of peers that I live with when I quit smoking?” These are on-going processes in the psychology state of a person who is about to make serious adjustment in his lifestyle.

Is the risk being a Christian more than being a non-Christian in reality? Is the future of the Kingdom unforeseen or it is right in front of us? Our interpretation makes a different! And that comes back to us to the roots in our belief. Are we strong in the knowledge of Christ, do we have that confidence in what we preach? When Apostle Paul spoke to Athens in Acts chapter 17, what had happened?

Change: individuals vs. populations
Friends, I’m writing this so that you will not be discouraged when facing the opposition from the field, and with the long dragging decision to choose to believe in Christ.

It makes little sense to expect individuals to behave differently from their peers. But we have hope in Jesus Christ! We can pray and work towards to seek a general change in behavioral norms and in the circumstances which facilitate their adoption.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will praise him, my Savior and my God.
~ Psalm 42: 5

NIV. 1987.
Beck. 1991.
Giddens. 1991.
Rose G. 1992.
Lecture notes. Perceptions & Biases. R. Fielding. 1996


Peng Lam said...

Kim Fong,

After reading the attachment, I also kepala pusing, cos so many to digest. I think I got consticipation.
Good news for you, one thing that stands out is "lost of face" which is very entrenched among the Chinese and Japanese. When a "blood relation" meaning siblings or grown up child abandons the faith, tradition/culture and identity in which you were brought up,the guardians or parents face a deep sense of humilation and embaressment. It's overwhelming to the point of suicide,for some it's an honourable way out. I have failed to be responsible and I am accountable for what has happened in my family circle.
To make things worse, some Christians would adopt western culture,eg. bring in the pews,change to a "christian name ", prefer to be called by that name. Whatever happened to the family name I gave you. It's an honorable name, rich in its meaning. Will you abandon your parents too, deriding them in their ways of belief? What I witness foremost is the outward change, will I find a tranformed life that radiates from your innermost being that would bear an impact, that truly I can say God is at work in you and compells me to seek Him.
I can walk,dress, pray, talk like a Christian. Go to church,meetings after meetings, etc. These are all doings.
Where is your being? The part that says in Him I move, I live, I have my being.
Westerners will find it hard to comprehend in their hearts what it means to have loss of face.Head knowledge they can explained, but it's the matter of the heart.
If ever sinners are saved, it's has to be thru the conviction of the Holy Spirit., not man's persuavise ways, intellect, blood-line or will of man. It's an abomination. Focus of change has to be inward, run the race and run it well.

Unc. Peng Lum
( who aspires to be a "marathon runner" )
We remembered you in our Wed. prayer meet last night. Got your room yet?

Reimer said...

Yes Japanese people are always very concerned about losing face. They are very concerned about what others think about them and what kind of an image others have about them. The worst thing you can do in Japan is to make someone feel ashamed.

About the church building in Kameoka city. It is still standing empty - not being used. Please do pray that someone would buy or rent it, otherwise it will be torn down.