What makes a country "Gospel-resistant"?

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by John of Japan, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Procyon asked in another thread, "Why is Japan so Gospel-resistant?"

    Yes, Japan is Gospel-resistant. After 140 years of Protestant missions, only 1% claim to be Christian, and that includes fundamentalists, evangelicals, liberals, Catholics, Charismatics, the cults (JW, Mormon, etc.) and everybody else!

    Oftener than not, I have gotten out 10,000 tracts with no response--none. When I came over to Japan in 1981, it was said that the average church membership was 21. (It must be less nowadays!) Some of the best missionaries I know have only planted one church in a career spanning decades.

    Some blame Japan's hardness on Buddhism, others on Shinto, Confucianism, humanism, evolution, materialism, too much prosperity, what have you. All of these things are factors, but I believe there is one underlying theme which is present in every "Gospel-resistant" culture, including Japan, the Middle Eastern Muslim countries, etc.

    Here is what almost all, if not all, Gospel-resistant countries have in common: at some time in their history, they rejected Christianity as a nation and a people. It may be that they invaded a country and killed the Christians, as the Muslims did in the Middle East. Or, it may be that they simply got tired of the truth and turned to broken cisterns, as in many European countries.

    In the case of Japan, Francis Xavier and his Catholic missionaries came here in the 16th century and made great strides. They blundered of course with their mariolatry, their failure to translate the Bible, etc. But at one point 20% or more of Japan was Catholic.

    What happened then is very sad. The Shogun (ruler of Japan, with even more power than the emperor in those days) decided that Christianity was evil, and began persecuting it. By the time the persecution was over a couple of Shoguns later in the 17th century, many 10s of 1000s of Catholics had been martyred, Christianity had been outlawed for 250 years, and contact with foreigners outlawed, as well as all foreigners outlawed but the Dutch.

    And that, brothers and sisters, is why I believe Japan is Gospel-resistant. Why am I here? Before I began deputation, my grandfather (a well-known Baptist evangelist) asked me why I was going to Japan. He said, "Japan is hard. You can win more people to Christ in America!" I admired and loved him so much that I have no idea to this day what I answered. There is only one answer, though: God called me! And as my grandfather himself used to say, "You can't win everyone to Christ, but you can always win someone!"
     
  2. Gold Dragon

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    That is an awesome sharing JoJ. I will definitely remember to pray for your hard work. I agree that history plays an important role in Japan's hardness to the gospel. I also think cultural pride has a lot to do with it too. In any event, only God can soften the hearts of the Japanese and I will pray for your continued work of bringing the softening presence of God among the Japanese.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Ireland is also a "gospel resistant" nation.

    For many years the main opposition was the powerful influence of the Catholic church. Since 1992 that power has been declining in the wake of the Celtic Tiger. In its place, as Ireland has become the wealthiest nation in Europe and one of the wealthiest in the world the new god has become materialism. People well and truly have no time for God. Both parents work full time jobs to pay the bills. There just isn't time to think about God.

    The other god is hedonism. After decades of "oppression" by the Catholic church folks have thrown off any idea of self control.

    A nation such as Ireland, consumed with materialism and hedonism, is reluctant to hear anything about God, much less the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    What is now the Republic of Ireland had never seen any kind of lasting revival in her history.

    Our work is much like what John is talking about. Gosple preaching churhes are VERY small here. We count even the chance to share the gospel as a great victory.
     
  4. MikeinGhana

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    I would agree with C$K about the influence the RCC has had. Here in Ghana it is a wide open harvest field in one sense. They are extremely open to religious things, so much that they are also open to the cults. Black Africa has always had its roots in emotionalism. That naturally leads to superstitions. Which reminds me of the Greeks at Athens who erected an idol to the unknown god, just in case they missed one. That is very much the sense of openness here in Africa. I think it is just as tough to reach a soul here as it is elsewhere because they are so willing to do what you tell them to do (without real conversion). We need to be very careful of easy believism in places like this.
     
  5. gb93433

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    Many countries have had leaders who have come to America to study and have not been treated all that well. Foreigners see America as a Christian nation without knowing the gospel.

    I was in a class years ago with a man from China at the time. He gave a speech on the positives of communism. Afterward he was blasted by several students in the class. After class I talked with him for about two hours letting him explain himself better. That was the beginning of an understanding of how the communists thought. He saw communism as a positive thing to help build a country. That was the only perspective he knew. We must give people time to see who we are and consider us credible. We must earn the right to be heard.

    I think too often Christians do the same thing to non-believers. They shout first and think later.

    Things can change I grew up in an area of the US where there were few churches and most were dead. But today things have changed. Some of the churches there are exploding with growth. One church alone is about six years old and has planted about 14 new churches.

    A few months ago I spoke with a Russian who was studying here. He knows why Russia fell and what happened to God.
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Hi, Gold Dragon. Just got back from "dim sum" with our co-workers at a lovely little Chinese restaurant in our town.

    Thank you for your kind words and prayers. You are right, only God can soften their hearts. You are right also that there is a lot of cultural pride (and prejudice) here, and that is one more barrier to the Gospel.

    Fellow laborers, here is how I found joy working in a Gospel-resistant country. Years ago I was very frustrated trying to start a church in Yokohama. At one point, if I had gone to a doctor I'm sure I would have been diagnosed as clinically depressed. My precious wife went through a lot trying to help me through it.

    Then one day I read in Luke 10, "17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

    After an amazing evangelistic expedition, the 70 disciples were rejoicing over the miracles, but Jesus actually commanded them not to! Instead they were to rejoice over their salvation! I can do that even when my work for Christ seems absolutely unproductive!

    Again, I read in Matt. 13:58, "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." I learned that even our Savior had a "Gospel-resistant" field at one point in His ministry!

    So here we are, still where God called us. "There is joy in serving Jesus." [​IMG]
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Easy believism? I'd settle for any kind of believism, Mike!! [​IMG]

    Seriously, the Japanese are very polite, and I could get hundreds per year to pray some kind of prayer with me. But then if I asked them afterwards whether they believed, they would probably say, "Believed what??"
     
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    I am amazed every time you post John how "alike" the Irish and the Japanese are!
     
  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    They are both just like their "father," right?
     
  10. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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  11. Gold Dragon

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    Hey John of Japan, I keep reading of a cultural shift in Japan away from the traditional servile view of women resulting in many financially independent women choosing not to marry because of cultural expectations once they do.

    I'm curious if this demographic, being generally anti-traditional Japanese and more open to "western" ideas is any more open to the gospel?
     
  12. Gold Dragon

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    Hmmmm. Dim sum. We don't go out to eat often because of financial and health decisions, but there are a ton of great dim sum places in Toronto since the great HK migration of the past few decades, myself being a product of that migration. We had a craving for dim sum the other week and it was really yummy. We do enjoy making our own dumplings to eat at home.
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    What you've read about the cultural shift concerning women is true. Other cultural shifts are taking place, too, such as a rebellion against the life-time employment system. I keep hoping these things will make them more open to the Gospel, but I haven't seen it happen yet.

    I'm writing a Japanese tract right now, "Japanese Love Christianity," in which I point out that many Christian customs are popular here: Christmas, Christian weddings, Gospel music and cross jewelry. However, it is just a surface attraction, since Christian things look "neat" to the Japanese, so they need to examine their hearts.
     

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