How Shinto and Buddhist priests view religion in Japan

According to wikipedia, 1 million people, that is less than 1% of the Japanese population are Christian:

Christianity in Japan is among the nation’s minority religions. Reports of the number of adherents differ, but most estimates are that approximately one percent of the population claim Christian belief or affiliation.

This makes for fertile ground for missionaries to proclaim the Gospel to the Japanese folks. In the photo on the right, a Christian is preaching on a street corner with a poster and a loud speaker, in Ikebukuro. (wikipedia) Read the article below to familiarize with the aspects of religion of the Japanese people, it just might come in handy when talking to Japanese folks in our own countries.

I also recommend watching Ravi Zacharias’s video – Jesus among other Gods – Ravi Zacharias

via http://www.mnnonline.org

Japan (PNS) ― Recently, a Christian with PIONEERS had a friendly debate with a Shinto and a Buddhist priest in front of a well-attended audience in Japan. It had a surprising twist. Here’s the story in the PIONEERS worker’s own words:

There is a saying in Japanese, “Minna chigatte, minna ee,” which means “We are all different, but all good in our own way.” This philosophy reveals a core attitude of religion in Japan.

Recently I was invited to join a local symposium as a representative of Christianity. I was to speak at a religious session along with a Buddhist priest and a Shinto priest. We shared a casual debate for an audience of 100 people.

The night before our debate and the next day, as I interacted with these two priests, they reflected similar sentiments about the way the Japanese practice religion.

“I think Buddhism is like a recipe book: you play around with a recipe and create something,” one said. “You decide what your soul wants to make. It is your own responsibility what you do with the ingredients.”

The next day, our session was well attended, with 100 people filling every available chair in the college classroom. As we debated, the truth and direction that Scripture gives stood in contrast with the idea of living a fulfilled life.

Part of the way through the discussion, the Buddhist priest said, „I am afraid that about 80% of you are probably leaning toward Christianity!” The Shinto priest added, „I also thought he was convincing. It could be because I had had a lot to drink last night, but maybe I will become a believer, too! I need to learn from him.”

I felt the prayers of God’s people and a special enabling power from God, as I respectfully and repeatedly brought the discussion back to the teachings of Scripture.

At one point the Shinto priest expressed his view of the importance of religion: „I don’t think it is necessary to think too deeply about religion. For instance, when you sit down to eat a meal, the main course is the rice. You have the side dishes. If you have pickles to go with the meal, it makes everything taste even better, doesn’t it? I think you should think of religion like the pickles. It makes life a little better. If you think of religion as more than that, it will become a burden to you.”

In response, I shared the reason why I came to Japan as a missionary: to share the Good News of a message that changed my life. “Salvation through faith in Christ and the forgiveness of sins is the most delicious message of all,” I explained. “Christianity is not a religion, but a daily relationship with a living being.” Coming back to this point time and again, I was able to speak on topics of marriage, death, and bullying.

„He is so convincing in his speech,” the emcee said laughingly. “I thought the Buddhist would become a Christian!”

Later during our panel discussion, the Buddhist priest turned to the Shinto priest and said, „As I was listening to you speak, I wondered: ….we put our hands together to pray, but are our prayers answered? „Is there a god or a Buddha?” Turning to the audience, he asked, „Have any of you ever said such a thing at least once in your life? Shinto worship nature, but can nature forgive you? Nature can’t forgive your selfishness. Shinto teaches that nature is your mother and father. That is what you are worshiping.”

I nodded my head in agreement at this astute observation and followed by quoting John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Pray that the seeds of Truth that were planted in this Buddhist and Shinto audience will take root and grow into faith in the Creator God. Pray for the continued ministry of PIONEERS in Japan.

Read more at  http://www.mnnonline.org (article/18631)

Prime Minister of Japan makes a case for eugenics

Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Taro Aso, Japanese Finance Minister,

Says Country Should Let Old People ‘Hurry Up And Die’

Taro Aso - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting...

Taro Aso – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

If the sound for an alarm has gone unheeded from those in the anti abortion movement, it is coming fast and furious, and loud and clear, and unashamedly and very unapologetically from heads of governments such as Mr. Taro Aso.

The Huffington Post reports:

A senior minister in the Japanese government ignited a firestorm of controversy after commenting recently on his country’s famously long-lived population.

Minister of Finance Taro Aso said Monday that Japanese elderly were creating a financial problem due to the amount of government funding needed for their medical care, reports Time.

„Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government,” Aso, himself 72, said. „The problem won’t be solved unless you let themhurry up and die.”

Aso, who also serves as the country’s deputy prime minister, made the inflammatory remarks Monday, during a meeting of the National Council on Social Security Reforms.

Prayer for Japan as another earthquake hits today – Rugaciune pentru Japonia

Forta unui tsunami – din 2004 Oceanul Indian

In Romanian:

La un an dupa cutremur, tsunami si dezastrul nuclear care a devastat Nordul Japoniei anul trecut in luna Martie, multi dintre cetatenii Japoniei sufera o disperare profunda. Bloomberg raporteaza ca acesta este al patrusprezecelea an in care peste 30,000 de oameni sau sinucis (anual 30,000 x 14 yrs = 420,000 morti prin sinucidere). Distrugerea care a venit peste tara Japonezilor va ramine pe veci in memoria cetatenilor.

Pastorul Joey Zarina, de la o biserica din orasul Kawasaki scrie ca se fac eforturi din partea crestinilor din toate partile lumii nu numai cu ajutor financiar, dar sa li se dea o speranta vie in puterea Crucii lui Isus Hristos. Dumnezeu sa se indure de acest popor si sa le deschida inimile spre mintuire si viata vesnica in El. Sa ii purtam in rugaciune cetatenii acestei tari.

In English via The Gospel Coalition

The Story: A year after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that devastated Northern Japan last March, many that country’s citizens are still suffering from despair. According to Bloomberg, suicides rose in April, May, June and August–the months following the natural disasters that devastated towns in northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis. For a 14th straight year, suicides in Japan have exceeded 30,000.

The Background: As Joey Zorina, a pastor at Ekklesia Christian Church in Kawasaki, Japan, writes, the images of the destruction will be etched forever in the minds of the country’s survivors:

The farmer who hanged himself, distressed about a cabbage harvest ruined by radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant; the overworked government worker near the complex who took his life; the father who killed himself after a fruitless search for his child after the tsunami- all these are but reminders of the ongoing suicide (30, 000 per year) in post-modern Japan.  Nearly 100 people a day commit suicide; one every 15 minutes.   The most common hour of death is 5: 00 am for men; and noon for women, after their families have left for work or school.  The suicide rate in Japan is tragically alarming.  Suicide is now the leading cause of death among men aged 20-44 and women aged 15-34.

Imagine the soldiers and police officers who had spent weeks on the grim search for bodies, as well as nuclear plant employees working overtime to deal with the crippled reactor!   They’re ordinary men and women like us with families, all vulnerable to the effects of the disaster.   As the nation rebuilds from the 3/11 major catastrophe, public health officials are concerned that a lingering sense of hopelessness and desperation among those affected might lead to a surge in suicides.  In a nation that’s already coping with one of the developed world’s highest rates of suicide deaths, there is a high probability that post-disaster stress could eventually lead to a higher rate.   The nation experienced a rise in suicides after the 1995 Kobe earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people.  Those who chose to die included the city’s deputy major, who doused himself with kerosene on the first anniversary of the disaster.  As Japan rebuilds, there is a fundamental question that will arise in the hearts of people who have lost homes, family and friends: „What do I have to live for?”

Why It Matters: „Japan is being rebuilt by the power of the Cross,” writes Zorina. „There is an ongoing relief work and support by Christians from all over the world. And it would be very unkind and unloving if we try to liberate people from their present temporal sufferings and not offer them the whole Gospel to alleviate their eternal sufferings.”

Because of God’s grace, some Japanese are able to see the light of Christ even in the shadow of destruction. For example, Masato Kotani lost his business because of the disasters, but is grateful that it helped him to find what really matters.

Cutremurul din Japonia Martie 11,2011 – Pray for Japan

Psalm 46:1-3,7    God Is Our Fortress

To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Tsunami Death Toll Rises to 900; 6.4 Magnitude Aftershocks Continue

Survivors paddle through the streets in Ishinomaki.Survivors paddle through the streets in Ishinomaki.Photo: Jiji Press/Getty Images

More than 900 people have now been reported dead as a result of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Japanese news media quoted government officials saying the death roll could rise to more than 1,300, most of them drowned. Over 10,000 people are currently missing. In the town of Minamisanriku, 9,500 people are unaccounted for, according to a local news agency. That figure is about half the population of the town. Overall, about 300,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. [NYT, CNN, Reuters]

More than 3,000 people have been rescued from „collapsed homes, muddy waters, and raging fires,” according to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Rescuers will continue to search for missing people. [CNN, NYT]

You can read the entire story here.

This is an interesting video. Living in Chicago, a city with 1,117 high rise buildings (over 35 meters or 12 stories) and a population of 2,836,658, I watched videos like the one below with trepidation. Only the hand of God stayed the power of the earthquake from total catastrophy.

The location of the quake and its orientation means most of the West Coast of the United States was spared major impact, Bernard said.”If the earthquake had been somewhere else, the effects on the Washington coast could have been much worse.” (Seattle Times)

Pray for the people of Japan. May God be their source of comfort and may they be open and receptive to the saving Gospel of Christ.

Video of Tsunami in city of Minami-Sanriku, Japan from Associated Press.

4 additional raw videos of devastation in Japan from the Associated Press, as featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Video via Greg A.

Psalm 46:2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

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