Christians use English to reach Japanese youth

By September 3, 2007

Japan (MNN) — The population of Japan is less than one-percent Christian. The nation is predominately Buddhist or Shinto, but for the most part it is a secular culture. Reaching the Japanese culture is difficult. But Book of Hope International is doing something to reach out to youth.

According to Book of Hope's Cina Silva, the youth have a strong desire to learn English. "Our book is actually a diglot, which means it's in two languages. The Scripture is in Japanese and English side-by-side. And we've also developed something unique in Japan — a textbook which teaches English using the Book of Hope. So we meet a need that they have, at the same time introducing them to the Gospel," says Silva.

The Japanese government restricts access to schools, so Silva says they can't hand out the Books of Hope there. But she says they do have other options. "Japan runs on the train system, and students commute back and forth to school on these trains. So churches are going into the train stations and giving out Book of Hope. But we want to keep it integrated with the church as much as possible, so they insert church fliers and invite them to various events."

While many countries boast distribution of more than a million in a year, distribution in Japan is much more difficult. Silva says they've only been able to hand out 500,000 copies in five years. Government restrictions and a small evangelical church is the reason.

However, Silva says they are seeing progress. The Tokyo Baptist Church has caught the vision for this ministry and has handed out more than 10,000 copies of the Book of Hope to students in train stations and other youth hang-outs.

Silva says it's having an impact. "Recently, they had 150 students respond, after they had given out the Book of Hope in one area. They came to a student concert, and six Japanese students gave their hearts to Christ."

According to Silva, Japanese youth have another problem. "Japan is one of those places where students are starving. But in many of the place where we ministry in the Asia Pacific, I would say they are starving for love and affection. And they are responsive."

$1 is all it takes to put the Gospel, a Book of Hope, in the hands of three young people. Click here to help.

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