The following article was written by Eileen Lass in the newsletter, FYI4, Feb 2012, vol 1. To read the entire newsletter, click here. You can reach Eileen at LassProofer@yahoo.com.
The greatest need of the tsunami-devastated area in northern Japan (called Tohoku) is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some 20,000 people were killed by the tsunami. This rightly saddens us so much. But 32,000 people committed suicide last year in Japan. This happens every year. 320,000 Japanese have killed themselves over the last decade.
127 million Japanese people desperately need the HOPE of the gospel of Jesus Christ. More than 99% are non-Christian. Some estimate that fewer than 5% have ever heard the message of Jesus in an understandable, even brief, way. Yes, the greatest MERCY MINISTRY we can do in Japan is bringing the gospel of hope. And, the best way to bring this gospel to Northern Japan is by STARTING HEALTHY, REPRODUCING CHURCHES!
March 11, 2011 brought a triple disaster to Japan unprecedented in the history of the world with the 9.0 earthquake, huge devastating tsunami, and the resulting nuclear disaster. MTW Japan immediately responded together with our Japanese partners in a large relief and recovery effort that continues today. 2,700 Christians and churches have given more than $1.4 million through MTW to help us bring relief and recovery to the people of northern Japan (see below).
Now we urgently need to follow this ongoing mercy ministry with church planting in the devastated region. God has used relief efforts to make many people more receptive to Christians, and some people more receptive to our Christ. We are developing a 10-year plan with our Presbyterian Church in Japan (PCJ) partners to plant a presbytery in North Japan as we pray and work towards a Biblical church planting movement (CPM).
We need funds to send the first Japanese church planters north to begin more intentional evangelism and church planting ministry in tandem with the ongoing relief, recovery, and rebuilding ministry. Without funding it is very difficult to recruit for this effort that needs to begin immediately. Church planting soon in partnership with the ongoing mercy ministry and relief teams from Japan and abroad would be ideal.
The earthquake brought devastating tsunami waves (many over 100 feet high) to 300 miles of the Japanese coast. We are now praying for an even more powerful TSUNAMI OF GRACE to flow
over this most resistant part of Japan that has so little gospel witness and so few churches. This wave will not come in one day like the March 11th tsunami. We are committed to persevering in this huge effort for northern Japan over the next ten years. But we do need to start immediately with the first church plants.
Often we hear of ministries that can't keep going due to lack of funding. We fully believe God will provide all the funding we need for this new ministry, but even with 100% of the finances, the ministry of church-planting in Tohoku can't get off the ground without MINISTERS. We are looking for people who will commit to pray DAILY that the Lord of the harvest will raise up church planters for this project, both missionary and Japanese. Will you join us?