September 2019

Strategicresourcetraining   -  

Japan Perspective

In June this year (2019) Linda and I had the pleasure of going to Japan. I was invited to speak at a Bible School in Hokkaido for a week, where we met with a lovely group of people who were hungry for God and working hard on their studies. The Bible School, which is part of Christ For the Nations Japan, is set in a beautiful place and has stunning facilities, all which were provided for them by a U.S. family with an amazing vision. The School offers a two-year curriculum and a Graduates class. It is run in the city of Sapporo.

Our time not only at the School, but in Japan itself was incredibly enlightening for so many reasons.  Too much to discuss in depth but a very important, and somewhat sad story was communicated to us while over there which I want to make the key topic of this article.

After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, which ended WWII, the Japanese people felt totally betrayed by their own leaders and also by their history as a warrior and hierarchical governed nation, which they had believed was the most superior system in the world.  Even in the last days of the war, before the atom bombs were dropped, their leaders promised them they could not be defeated, and that America, who had all but defeated Japan, would soon cave in. Then the traumatic tragedy took place of the nuclear attack took place, leaving Japan completely helpless as a nation.

The surprising result of this was that the Japanese completely renounced their empirical, hierarchical and warlike system overnight, claiming that all the promises their leaders had given the Japanese people were broken and this system they had embraced for centuries had failed with calamitous results, such that their nation would never recover from.

This view was not something they came up with over time. Their nation embraced it within weeks of the bombs being dropped. They now believed that the democratic and so called “Christian” system that the Western world had, was now proven to be the greatest power and they desired to establish it in Japan.

The American missionaries poured in and the fields were ready for harvest, many turning to Christ. Sadly, it is here that the second great tragedy took place. The missionaries brought with them a message limited to salvation i.e. how to avoid eternal damnation. This was not what the Japanese were looking for. It is now known that the Japanese culture has little interest in the hereafter – their passion is for life on planet earth. They petitioned the missionaries for a whole WAY of life, which the missionaries could not offer.

As a result, after a short period of time, which resulted in many people attending church services, they ultimately departed, still searching for something that offered more than just a religion. Today, less than 2% of the population in Japan are Christians and this number is not growing.

Their view today is that Christianity has been tried and proved to be of little value as it was just another form of religion which they already had in Shintoism, Buddhism and combinations of them both. As a result, they turned to business, economics and manufacturing to produce a way of life that they believed Christianity had nothing contribute to.

This is not to suggest that the people in Japan today are anti-Christian. They are not in any way at all. They are just totally indifferent towards Christianity. Their view is, why change from one religion to another? The Buddhist temples and shrines are great works of art and demonstrate a false but convincing holiness, so from their perspective they have religion well covered – what they seek is empowerment for everyday life. This is tragic, especially knowing that the message of the Kingdom of God covers all aspects of life – not just religion.

I was asked to speak at the Bible on Christian Business. I did five sessions and they were really well received. The reason they requested me to teach on business was twofold. Firstly, because most of the Bible School students come from business families and will end up in business themselves. As a result, they wanted them to have a Biblical grounding of that subject. Secondly, the leaders believe that if the Japanese people learn that Christianity can empower their way of business, they will become very interested in it again.

What I am trying to say here is this. It is the time for the real church, with a proper focus on the Kingdom of God as a total way of life, to rise up and begin to train its adherents for every aspect of life in a fallen world. This is what we must give our life, time and finances to. I believe we are coming into both a time of fruitfulness and a time of great cost in the Western world. We need to be both excited and sober minded. Most of all we need to work hard at our callings and the opportunity to teach and disciple what we believe to others.

May God bless you,

Bruce Billington