They’re seen everywhere these days, Bible in hand on their way to church with a confidence about them that one can’t quite describe. They look happy. They make great pewwarmers and look especially good for pictures for the church website. You’ve been working in Japan for so long and now you’ve made your big break: a church full of these followers. You happily report back to base with the numbers and they can’t believe it! This is Japan, right?!? Ah, yes, but you, you are the exception. You’ve got a church full of people to prove it.
In the past year, you’ve been getting the top spot at conferences; they want to know how you did it. All eyes are on you. The money comes pouring in. Donations have never been so plentiful. You even plant new churches in the area and they are doing well too! This is surely what you were called to do and you, yes you, have succeeded.
Until that fateful day… War breaks out in Japan. Armies invade and you’re constantly under attack. Bombings, raids, famine. You didn’t sign up for this. One Sunday, you gather your home church together–what’s left of them. “Hey guys, after much prayer, me and my wife have decided to go back to our home country.” They are devastated, but surely they will understand, right? You’re on the plane outta there and comfort yourself, “Lord, please remember me and all the converts I made. Remember my big church with the big programs and help me to set up shop again in my home country. Bless me for all my good work.”
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (John 10:12)
This is obviously an exaggeration, but in my experience going to churches in Japan, this is often what the end result will look like for many. Churches here are absolutely not prepared to suffer.
If churches here would spend more time on 1 convert rather than trying to emulate the mega churches back in the States, we would see much, much better, lasting fruit.
What I have seen is churches, full of converts, who have no intention of going anywhere or doing anything with their faith–they are part-time Christians. They love to go to church on Sunday and look good in the community. They love to go to the nursing homes once a year. They love to come to church for holidays. But the one thing they so desperately need, they lack: a real relationship with Christ. When times of trouble come, make no mistake, these people will fall away. If you think Christianity at 1% is bad in Japan, once trouble comes, it will drop much lower than that. Why? Isn’t Christianity supposed to flourish in trouble? Yes, when the church has been prepared properly for what’s coming!
I plead with you Christian leaders in Japan! Preach the real gospel! The gospel of repentance. The gospel of suffering. The gospel of self-sacrifice. The gospel of taking up your cross! We don’t need any more of these cotton-candy church buildings in Japan.
If you are a missionary here and your church is small, if you are feeling sad because you have been here the past 40 years and you only have a small congregation, take heart! There is hope! Prepare your congregation for God’s coming judgement. Teach them to thrive in suffering. Buy lots of food and water to store in your church building. If you have room, make a garden for growing food. Train your men to be security guards for the door! Watch who goes in and out! Protect the sheep God has given you! Do what’s right, because it is right.
“I may have disobeyed my government, but if I didn’t I would be disobeying God. In life, do what’s right because it’s right, and leave it alone.”
May God bless the pure in heart! May God cleanse us all from all unrighteousness.