|5 Japanese Evangelistic Multiplier Case Studies|
|Blogs - Staff|
|Written by Michael Wilson|
|Saturday, 29 January 2011 20:16|
The following are case studies of Japanese lay Christians who have multiplied through evangelism. I would enjoy feedback. Thanks!
1.) Ai (Office Worker): Marketplace Evangelism
I was born in Naha, the prefectural capital of Okinawa, Japan. I am the second of four daughters. My father is a carpenter and my mother is a housewife. Both are now believers so there was no problem giving up the family altar (butsudan) or any of the associated rituals.
I’m not married. I started working in an office after high school graduation. I was given the opportunity to have technical training in my company and have risen to leadership in the office. My greatest joy at work or anywhere I go is to tell anyone I encounter how wonderful it is walking with Jesus day by day.
God has given me the joy of leading eight people to Christ. Most of these are not only colleagues at work but very good friends. I was able to develop a trust relationship with each one that helped with leading them to Christ. Most of the eight have since led others to Christ, but some of those others have not been baptized yet. In my spare time, I like to engage in flower arranging, crafts, cooking, and caring for children at church events. My church trains all of us in how to share our faith with others. The most fun I have is when I share how God is blessing me and that leads to the other person eventually believing in Christ.
2.) Hidenori (Newspaper Reporter): Have Gospel, Will Travel
I was born in Chubu Prefecture to a self-employed businessman and a mother who worked in an office. When I was ten years old, my parents divorced. My father moved out of our home leaving mother, my younger sister and me. As a result of this, I was never very close to him.
After graduating from university, I married and took a job with a newspaper, and before long I was working as a reporter. My job involved transfers every two years. In addition I interview people in a job that is communication-intensive. Away from work, I’m a private person, though I do enjoy my hobby as an amateur magician—when I have time for it. I’ve never found it hard to make friends and am often asked for advice though I don’t know why.
My wife became a Christian before me—partly as a result of a personal crisis. My wife is my best friend and so when she asked me to go to church with her while we were living in Tokyo, I agreed to go. The church was very crowded which surprised me. But that was not the biggest surprise that day. After the service, an American missionary working at the church came and started talking with me and invited me to a men’s small group. Later, he told me that God’s Spirit told him to come over and talk to me—specifically. This moves me—that God cares that much for me to have a foreigner approach me picking me out of a crowd, and tell me about God.
After another job transfer, my wife and I started attending a church in Osaka with cell groups. Soon I was made a cell group leader. When the church hosted a black gospel workshop, our cell got very involved preparing handbills and then passing them out in the surrounding neighborhood. When passing handbills out, the other cell members took my lead to strike up conversations with people we encountered. I realized that developing some positive feeling—maybe a modicum of trust—would increase the probability of the person actually attending the workshop.
During and after the workshop, my cell members and I invited our new friends who attended the workshop to barbeques and home parties. As the trust grew between us and our new friends, some of them became open to the gospel. So many eventually came to Christ that our cell group multiplied twice.
Around this time, I met Fukuda Mitsuo, a house church coach for several networks in Japan. This meeting inspired me to continue friendship evangelism to start a house church in a new context after another job transfer. Within the two years in that location, there was a new house church. In all, four of the people I have led to Christ have led others to Christ. Some of those last have led a third generation to Christ.
Wherever my job has led me, God has given my wife and me opportunities to share the hope in Christ we have with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
3.) Sakura (Divorced Single Mom): Maintaining Family Ties
When I married, I thought we would have a happy family, but shortly after our first baby was born, my husband abandoned us. Soon after, we divorced. One day as I was nursing my child, I heard a voice say to me, “Re-do your childhood.” But I didn’t know whose voice it was and I didn’t understand the meaning. However, soon after that a friend came from far away and shared how I could be born again spiritually (John 3:3), and I understood that it had been Jesus’ voice speaking to me! I was baptized in my bathtub soon after. That’s my story of meeting Jesus and re-doing my childhood.
I am an oldest daughter. There are not many children in our family so on the 3rd, 7th, 13th anniversary, etc. (odd years) I call the temple priest for a Buddhist memorial service. I think in many families even if it’s not the oldest son or daughter someone calls the family together.
During the Obon holiday, I do whatever needs to be done when the Buddhist priest comes to conduct worship at the family altar (butsudan) and perform the sutra.
Our family grave is registered at the local Buddhist temple and as temple parishioners our information is managed in the temple computer. We receive delivery on letters explaining the family altar procedures. We give offerings to the temple by bank transfer. I don’t actively initiate anything but I respond to temple requests which come often.
Now I will answer your question about why I participate in family altar rituals. But first, I’d like to explain my father’s thinking. He says, “We are protected by a person or persons that we cannot see. I am not alive by my own strength. I have been made alive by another. One clear evidence of that is my parents’ existence, and our ancestors before them.”
The key point of his belief is as follows: “god”(神々) mentioned in the First Commandment and “parent”(父) mentioned in the Second Commandment is combined in the word “ancestor”(先祖). We cannot see God. But we can be certain that our ancestors—who in a kind of relay of life—have passed the “baton of life” to us—and we can be certain of the presence of this “baton of life” within us. We can see their presence as evidenced in our physical bodies through inherited physical characteristics. My father cannot seem to see with his mind’s eye the past he cannot see physically. Perhaps someday he will be able to see the spiritual. I do not know.
This is what my mother says to me. “Will you speak negatively (deny) our faith? We do not speak negatively of Christianity. Isn’t the one who speaks negatively being narrow minded? Isn’t it a mistake?” For this reason, I have been sworn at, saying I am a self-centered daughter, doing my own thing without any regard for those around me. I am told that I am always thinking only of myself, which has caused me to grieve. To follow the First Commandment (Have no other god), I have to violate the Fifth Commandment (Honor father and mother). This is a very difficult and sad thing. I pray only to Jesus when I participate in the Buddhist rituals. I want to be able to follow both commandments at the same time (honor parents and worship only Jesus).
I have told my family about the time Jesus spoke to me and prepared me for the gospel. And at my child’s birthday, my house church members encircled my mother and prayed for her.
Recently, I have had some good conversations with my father about the source and meaning of life. I sense God is hearing prayer for my parents and I am really, really grateful!
Sakura also indicated on her survey that:
4.) Taro (Businessman): A Valuable Exception
I am currently Vice President of a large corporation. Part of my work responsibility is to oversee a nationwide project.
A few years ago, I met a missionary at the church in Tokyo my wife attended. My doctor had told me I needed to take up tennis again to exercise for my health. The missionary accepted my invitation to play tennis and we played most Saturday mornings for 2 years. We drank a lot of tea together and also played chess and shogi.
Whenever we would get together, the missionary would often tell me some way God had blessed his life. Little by little my interest in his God grew. One time, I remember, the day before we went to play tennis, I had a big argument with my daughter who was in high school at the time. She left home and did not come back that night. Needless to say, I was very worried. Between games of tennis, my missionary friend told me about an argument he had had with his daughter and how using principles in the Bible they had been able to resolve their conflict very quickly. I really wanted to hear more and eagerly accepted his invitation to join a men’s cell group he was forming.
My wife had been a Christian for many years before me. She invited me to go and see Arthur Holland, a famous evangelist, and other famous people whenever they came to her church. She posted Christian things around the house which I would often see. The following is a good example which I saw everyday (cf. Figure 8).
For many years, I know my wife prayed for my salvation. During that time, I sometimes heard her pastor’s sermon tapes, I occasionally saw a Christian TV show, heard Christian music, read a Christian book, and attended a Christian wedding. All these contacts with the gospel gradually changed me.
Figure 8: Sin Chart
Finally, the men’s cell group became a good group of friends for me—something I had not had for a long time. The way they all accepted a handicapped member made it easy for me to accept him also. Through the inductive Bible study in the cell, I understood John chapter one for the first time. Aha! I thought. “The Word” is Jesus Christ who made all things and who came to take away our sins. When the missionary told me one day he wanted me to be his spiritual brother, I gladly accepted the idea and prayed with him to accept Christ as my Savior admitting my imperfections and asking forgiveness.
After my missionary brother and his family moved to Okinawa, I became a part of another cell group. Our members had a number of barbeques, dinners, book discussions, game nights, etc. on a rotating basis to which we invited our unsaved friends. One year from April to October, six couples from my and other members’ workplaces believed in Christ and were baptized. In addition, I have led two people to Christ who have gone on to lead other people to Christ.
Though Taro’s survey responses reflected the lowest correlation with opinion leadership characteristics, he has been able to multiply through evangelism—twice. Interestingly, among the Christians Toshi teamed with in outreach is one research participant who had one of the highest response correlations with opinion leadership. Perhaps as a microcosm of the Body of Christ, this team of outreaching church members shared one another’s spiritual giftedness as well as each other’s homes as their events moved from house to house. The research suggests that this is the case since Taro had the lowest opinion leadership and yet multiplied evangelistically.
5.) Haruka (Housewife): Miracle Turnaround
I first heard the gospel when a friend shared it with me. There was a crisis in my life and in the midst of the stress a friend’s lifestyle witness and personal testimony, along with a pastor’s Bible message given in our home made me first think I wanted to become a Christian. These factors along with a Christian book I read gradually led me to put my faith in Christ.
About four years after I was baptized, my 29-year-old son who was serving in the Japan Self-Defense forces was killed in a helicopter accident. He was a believer, and so even in the midst of my pain, I took great comfort in knowing he was in heaven with Jesus. About a year later, my husband was told that he had terminal cancer and would not live long. My pastor prayed for him and miraculously my husband was healed so completely that he was able to go back to work!
After these two things—about five years after my own baptism, I became passionate about telling others about Jesus because of the hope and comfort I had received about my son and my husband. Two of the people I met at church events and led to Christ have led others to Christ. I have found it very helpful to develop a trust relationship with people I am working with in order to witness Christ to them.
What do you think?
As you've read these case studies, what are your thoughts? Please share your comments and reflections. . .