Project Japan 2017

Project Japan 2017 Team Photo

For the past six years, The Crossing’s college ministry, Veritas, has partnered with Mission To the World’s church planting team in Nagoya, Japan. Each summer, Veritas takes a group of Veritas college students to Nagoya to help run the college ministry at Nisshin Christ Church (NCC) for the months of June and July. Here’s a video overview from Project Japan 2016.

Kyle Richter, Crossing Pastor & Veritas Co-director, is team leader for Project Japan 2017. He provided this guest post. Please consider financially supporting Project Japan 2017 (Place donation amount under Project Japan.)

Project Japan 2017: May 30th-July 25th (The Richter family will leave May 24th to allow an extra week for their kids to adjust before the rest of the team arrives.)

Team Demographics:

  • 9 Mizzou students (4 guys & 5 girls)
  • Team Leaders: Kyle (Crossing Pastor and Veritas Co-director) & Noelle Richter (part time Veritas staff) + Lilly (4.5), Lucy (3) and Jack (1.5)
  • Primary NCC staff we’ll be working with: Wayne and Amy Newsome, Kaji and Ayumi Uechi, Izumi Taniguchi, and Darlene Johnson

Itinerary:
•    Two days of travel from Columbia, MO to Tokyo, Japan
•    Five days of adjusting to the time change (14 hours ahead!), sight seeing, team bonding, and vision casting in Tokyo
•    7 weeks of relational ministry in Nagoya, building friendships with Japanese college students in hopes of showing Christ’s love and connecting them to Nisshin Christ Church (NCC) staff members.
•    Ministry events such as a camping trip, a weekend home stay, a Nagoya Dragon’s Baseball Game, a Fourth of July Party, and other fun activities all aimed at cultivating meaningful relationships among the Veritas team and Japanese students.
•    A weekend trip to Kyoto for contextualization and history of one of Japan’s most ancient, traditional cities.
•    A day trip to Sakushima Island for an end-of-the summer debrief
•    Two days of travel from Tokyo, Japan to Columbia, MO

Team Goals:
The Veritas team aims to create meaningful connections with as many Japanese students as possible over their seven weeks at NCC. It is their goal to build friendships that Japanese college students may not be used to, ones that are intentional, vulnerable, and sacrificially loving. The team hopes to simply care for students in a way that shows Christ’s love clearly. The Veritas team will focus on relationship building and bringing Japanese students into a Christian church (many students having never been in a church) in ways that display NCC as a place of refuge, acceptance and radical love. This allows NCC staff to continue pouring into Japanese college students long after the Veritas team leaves.

Please pray:
•    That God would put students in our path who will respond positively to our friendship and will be drawn to NCC and the love of the staff there.
•    That God would work in our team to show the love of Christ and make the good news of the gospel known.
•    That God will strengthen us as a team, giving us love for one another, energy and perseverance through the summer, and reliance on him alone in our ministry.
•    That we would serve NCC and its staff well this summer, being a blessing to their ministries and continuing to build the partnership that God has created.

The information below can help you understand the needs of the people being reached by Project Japan 2017. It is an excerpt from a guest-post provided by Alex Gray for last year’s Project Japan Team.

Target Population:
The Veritas team will spend most of its time with Japanese college students from the campuses close to NCC. Over the years, NCC’s college ministry has grown to roughly 30 consistent students, almost all non-Christian. These students attend colleges usually within walking distance of the church, so these students are the Veritas team’s connection for being on campus and meeting new students. Many of the Japanese students on campus are studying English as their major and are looking for international friends, giving the Veritas team a great opportunity for relationship building.

The Japanese schooling system is set up in a way that makes middle school and high school highly important for future success and therefore highly stressful. High school exams determine which university students will attend, and once that is decided their paths are fairly set. This means that after high school, Japanese students are free to relax their studies a bit, making them more available and less stressed to spend free-time as they choose. The Veritas team utilizes this free time to get to know Japanese college students as much as they can in their 6 weeks in Nagoya.

While school is less of a stress for most college students in Japan, other factors greatly affect their college years. Job success is extremely important in Japanese culture, so most students join clubs that build their resume and teach skills useful for finding and securing jobs. The pressure to succeed in their future job causes many students to pack their days with clubs and activities, and once committed to these clubs, there is a high expectation of loyalty and obligation to them. This makes it hard for students to rest and build deep friendships during their college years, and many feel differing degrees of isolation, anxiety, and depression.

Another factor is the Japanese concept of honne-tatemae, or inner and outer face. Japanese culture encourages people to separate their true feelings, opinions, and desires from what is presented to others. This comes from the ideal of keeping harmony and not disturbing the unity of society. The result of this cultural concept is that college students are not given opportunities to express their feelings, beliefs, hardships, etc. if they would disrupt peace or place a burden on anyone else. Keeping true emotions and convictions to themselves causes Japanese students to feel as if they aren’t truly known or valued, and the pain and hardships they carry often become too much for them to bear.

Veritas sees an incredible opportunity with Japanese college students in the Nagoya area. These are students who are wanting international friendships, who are looking to be known and loved, and who need people in their lives that will listen and care for them deeply.

Barriers to Christianity:

There are many cultural and religious factors that present barriers to a Japanese person becoming a Christian. On average, it takes a Japanese person 10 years to become a Christian from the point that they begin studying the Bible. Some of the cultural and religious factors facing the Japanese include:

  • Wa: idea that the good of society, harmony, unity is the ultimate goal; more important that personal needs, beliefs, desires. “Wa” is the basis for how Japanese society functions; everything is done in relation to maintaining harmony. Becoming a Christian goes against the group consensus; it believes and commits to something different than the rest of society, creating a disruption of harmony.
  • Giri: Refers to duty or obligation that Japanese people have toward groups. There are high expectations to give time, effort, sacrifice toward your social groups and obligations. Becoming a Christian causes people to fail in some duties and obligations. For example, within the family, Japanese have an obligation to perform rituals that honor and worship ancestors. Becoming a Christian would mean renouncing those practices, but for the Japanese it would also be a sign of renouncing and bringing shame upon one’s family.
  • The Concept of God/gods: The Japanese word for god or gods is kami, and they are Shinto deities. They are formless, lacking personality, and amoral. They are thought to have superior knowledge and power over certain aspects of the natural world, but they are not creators or omniscient/omnipotent. They should be treated well in order to receive fortune, but full devotion isn’t necessary. Because the Japanese have a completely different idea of what a god/who God is, the process of believing in God takes much longer. The Japanese have to learn about the God who is creator, who loves his people unconditionally, who has a personal relationship with people, who should be worshipped fully, who is sovereign and all-knowing and all powerful, who is the only true God, etc. Everything they know about what a god is gets turned around when they begin learning about the Lord.

Read more about Japan and the spiritual needs of her people.

Mission Spotlight: Japan

Read more about the Newsomes and their long term missions work in Nagoya.

Newsomes in Nagoya, Japan

Sources:

  • Kyle Richter, Crossing Pastor, Veritas Co-director
  • Alex Gray, Veritas Staff
  • Lee, Samuel. The Japanese and Christianity. Foundation University Press. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 2014

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