they help to make sense of things.
They give you a number, a percentage, something you can grasp.
One example is Christianity in Okinawa. There are many churches on the island. You can see several crosses in the skyline and almost every town has at least one church -- a stark contrast to some areas in Japan.
In fact, many Churches and Mission groups leave or avoid Okinawa due to it's being "over-churched."
Yet when you look a little deeper, you see a different story. While the 3% Christians in Okinawa is a lot more than the 0.7% nationwide, we prefer to focus on the 97% that are not yet Christian.
And the large number of churches? Well, when you subtract the ones that don't teach the truth that number drops a bit.
Subtract too the ones that minister only to the military too, since the stats are measuring the locals.
What is left is a handful of good churches that God is using.
Here are some sobering statistics:
- Japan has the highest suicide rates of any industrialized country. About 650 people kill themselves each week.
- Almost 1/3 of Japanese women have had at least one abortion, many as teenagers.
- Japan has a "negative birth rate" -- that is, more people die each year than are born.
- Mental Disorders have doubled in the past 5 years -- 4 times as many as 10 years ago.
- Most Japanese don't adhere to any one "religion." Some will claim Buddhist or Shinto beliefs, but they don't really practice.
For a country that has much to "brag" about (2nd largest GDP, national health care, one of the "most-liked" countries), there is for many, a dissatisfaction or emptiness.
As Christians, we are free to loudly proclaim that we have the answer to all their problems -- Jesus Christ.This is why God brought us to Japan. Our prayer is that He will use us to reach local Okinawans and anyone else that comes in our path.
Please pray with us that God's Spirit would continue to guide these churches. That the Japanese people would give up their pride and nationalism and turn to the only one who can meet their needs!