Do Not Forget Mission After the Pandemic
By Rev Gordon Siu
April 30, 2023
The pandemic in the past three years or more has taken its toll on mission work all over the world. Missionaries mostly stay in touch with local people online only. But recently, short-term mission trips have resumed in many churches, and missionaries in the fields have also started to be back to normal. We really need to re-ignite our care for mission work. After the pandemic, we all the more understand we need to make the most of today’s opportunities to support mission work in different places.
The opportunity to attend a seminar on mission advancement in Japan at the start of the month has left me with a lot of thoughts and feelings. Japan has a population of 124 million, of which 87 million are Shintoists, and 83 million are Japanese Buddhists (with overlap between the two). However, there are very few Christians. Only 262,000 nationwide regularly attend Christian churches, which is less than 0.22% of the population in Japan! I had the opportunity to attend the worship service of a local church. The pastor is a missionary from Korea. He preaches in Korean, which is translated into Japanese. The congregation comprises both Koreans and locals. This therefore becomes a form of support to the local church. Meanwhile, the aging problem of the Japanese population is the most serious in the world. As many as 29% of the population is above 65, and only 11.6% is under 15. All of this means that mission work in Japan is urgent. A large number of Japanese people need to hear the gospel before they depart from this world!
In the past, few Hong Kong missionaries go to Japan. But after the 311 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, quite some Hong Kong missionaries are moved. At present, more than 50 are on mission in Japan. May the Lord move more brothers and sisters in Hong Kong to commit to care for overseas mission. There had been suggestions that Japan is hard soil for the gospel and resources should not be used there. Missionaries share that in the affected areas of the 311 Earthquake, they are still subject to rejection by local people. At the same time, some companies refuse to employ job applicants who live in Fukushima for fear that they may still be contaminated by radiation. When missionaries visited them in their homes, even though it was the very first visit, they were touched and broke into tears not long into the conversation. They deeply felt accepted. Mission in Japan may not be easy but the presence of missionaries shows that God has not forgotten Japanese.
For Hong Kong missionaries in Sendai, Japan, work is also difficult. Yet, they would approach the local people in different ways with wisdom. During the pandemic, they mounted activities in the park to reach the homeless. Quite some of these homeless people have had formal jobs before but they sleep in the streets for many personal reasons. They are very receptive to the care of the missionaries. More than 10 of them regularly attend Bible study sessions with the missionaries in the park, and five of them were baptized last year! Meanwhile, the Japanese people like the arts very much. The missionaries therefore organized arts workshops and invited Christian and non-believing ladies to take part in art creation, which produced very good results for the gospel.
May the Lord move us so that we do not forget to care for mission, knowing that the Lord’s heart is always for mission.