Do you remember the story of Daniel, that the king Nebuchadnezzar offered gifts to Daniel after Daniel interpreted his dream? He recognized the God of Daniel. But after a while, he erected the golden image and ordered his subordinates to bow down before the image. When three friends of Daniel refused to bow down, he ordered to put them in the burning fiery furnace.
It took the chastening of the Lord for him to finally realize there is the Lord over his life Daniel 4. I invited them to see my water baptism. They were really shocked. They told the pastor of the church that Jesus took away Kiyomasa from them. They really struggled on this point. My father sensed my strong conviction in Christ, so he proposed one compromise. Do it in Christian way.
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However, a big turning point came to their lives. My grandmother on maternal side passed away, and they attended the Buddhist funeral. On that same day she later called me and asked if there was any good church nearby their house. They started going to church. Finally, one Sunday morning service, the pastor gave a message from John I went back home to attend their water baptism. I was surprised to see their face. They looked like they were baptized already with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
TOKYO (5 a.m.)
A Japanese house usually has a mini-Shinto shrine and a Buddhist altar for the deceased family members. But they took away all the items in the shrine, and closed the door of the Buddhist altar. After the baptism, we went around various places to dispose of the Buddhist altar. Later they remodeled the Buddhist style ancestor grave into a Christian one. The reason why I give the testimony of my parents is because you can see the common traits among Japanese people. Like I said, the first is their strong polytheistic belief.
The second one is strong family relationship. The third is their strong belief concerning death and funeral. So, when you witness Christ to Japanese people, you need first clarify whose God you are talking about. The translation actually came from the word of Shinto belief. I have an experience sharing the gospel with a devout Shintoist. I started to use the word Kami but I felt awkward because she also started using the word Kami, and her using Kami sounded more original and authentic!
So, I immediately explained my Kami is the Creator of heavens and the earth.
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When people hear the word God, they understand you are talking about the Creator, but that is not the case with many parts of the world. Whenever a westerner thinks of the case for the Creator, he feels he has to talk on the issue of evolution versus creation. Yes, it is good to talk about evolution to Japanese people, but you need to know Japanese or Asian belief in evolution even precedes the history of Darwinism.
Difference between humans and animals is vague.
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Rather the concept of evolution originates from the transmigration in eastern mysticism. In order to present the gospel, we need to go back to the Bible. It starts with the creation story. Forty years later, God told Joshua to destroy the images of the Canaanite gods.
Later God raised up David to fight against the Philistines. His confrontation against Goliath is famous. It says in 1 Samuel Then we know the history of kings in northern Israel and southern Judah, and the contests between the Israelites and the heathens were always centered around the debate over who is the real God, Yehweh, or the pagan gods. After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews repented and reinstituted the Jewish faith in the only, living God.
He meant spiritual adultery — idolatry. We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. The evangelism will continue till the end of this age. The Bible contains many examples of syncretism and the subsequent judgments of God. God destroyed Syria when she fought against Israel. Therefore they were stronger than we; but if we fight against them in the plain, surely we will be stronger than they.
So the LORD killed thousand Assyrian armies and later God had the sons of the Assyrian king murder their father when he worshipped the Assyrian god. I receive many questions and hear many stories of encountering awkward situations forced to participate in Buddhist rituals. If their parents are not Christians yet, they demand the believers to offer incense and food to the Buddhist altar. A sister in the Lord confessed she was offering food because her mother insists her to do so.
My practical advice to such believers is that not only they are making compromise to the living God, but also they are losing opportunity to witness to the family members. I tell them that firm stance on the issue of the rituals of other religions will eventually lead the persecutors themselves to have real faith in God. Nebuchadnezzar is a prime example. They are tempted to make compromise, to make it easier for Japanese to receive the gospel. However, making compromise with other religions will not help the people coming to the faith; instead the compromise will distract and keep them from coming to the real faith.
We have many new believers in our church, and most of them share the same challenge. One lady in our church suffered persecution.
The moment she shared Christ with her parents, they started attacking her faith. Interestingly though, her father suddenly changed his stance. Perhaps I need to go to Christmas service. The strong identity in Christ is the key factor for Japanese or other Asian Christians. Water baptism has special meaning to them. It means he or she will become part of the spiritual family of God. It is a real step of faith. Many people remain in church but have not yet taken the step of baptism because it is a real test of faith to put their identity in Christ alone.
Therefore, it is my personal conviction that it is not too early to start discipleship even before one makes the verbal confession of faith. Jesus called His disciples before they really realized He is Christ of the living God. He spent a lot of time with them, teaching them with much patience. Then they later became real followers of Christ, fully convinced of the gospel.
In my church, many of the new believers came to know Christ through Bible study on our ministry website. However, as you closely look at the audience of the gospel message, they were already converts to Judaism, or at least they had strong interest in God of the Jews. They already had Bible knowledge and they knew what the Messiah would be like. When Paul moved to a new city, he started preaching at synagogue.
Evangelism to Japanese people
The Gentiles who heard and believed his message already had knowledge of God. But that was not the case with Athens. He was forced to be in the area. He tried to make connection with the people on Mars Hill. But it was not successful. So, when we approach to Japanese people, we encounter similar response because many of them do not have Bible knowledge.
It is hard to connect with them and lead them into spiritual knowledge of Christ. Therefore, I think it is wiser to invite them to some Bible study for beginners or some kind of Christian events. We have to start with very basics, with who God is. It is important to built relationship with them.
Because Adam sinned, death entered the world. Jesus died for our sins. He was raised from the dead. I can say the gospel starts with death. Between sips of tea, Allende is affable and energetic as she discusses her tumultuous life odyssey. Abandoned by her father at the age of three, she moved around South America with her mother and stepfather, a Chilean diplomat, before the family returned to Santiago. After Augusto Pinochet toppled Salvador Allende in a bloody coup , the young Isabel, a first cousin once removed of the fallen president, fled to exile in Venezuela.
She advised Gordon, a lawyer-turned-novelist, on his writing, and soaked up the beauty of Marin county. He went inward and cut everybody off, me included. Fate has given him very hard blows. Between him and me, we have lost three children. Very few couples survive the death of one child, let alone three. She tried to save the marriage. One person cannot save it.
This is something we should have done together. It takes more courage to stay in a dead relationship than abandon it, she says. I have known couples like that — that have aged together, bonded in wonderful ways. It was easier in the old days. Does she expect to find love again? A pause, then a laugh. She poured feelings of loneliness into the new novel. I belong to a generation where that was not done.
Allende became a US citizen in , received the presidential medal of freedom at a White House ceremony last year and expects to die in California, but she does not feel like a gringa. Her sense of self lies south. The eruption of xenophobia in US politics deeply worries her. The Virginia mayor a Democrat who invoked Japanese internment camps in opposing a welcome for Syrian refugees was bad enough, but Donald Trump , the Republican presidential frontrunner, is truly dangerous, she says. And he has this following. He may destroy the Republican party. This seems funny and grotesque but it is very scary because this is how the Nazi movement started.
No one took it seriously.
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