Japan (MNN) — In Japan, suicide is on the rise. Nearly 34,000
people took their lives last year alone, according to USA Today. This number is
the second-highest toll ever in Japan and ranks Japan at ninth for suicide
This has been the case for the last decade as Japan's
economy continues to weaken and spiral downward. Since 1998, there have been
over 30,000 suicides each year, reported the Japan Times.
Takeshi Takazawa with Asian Access (A2) said two factors contribute
"This basically shows the hopelessness. They think killing
themselves is better than continuing life, so they basically give up," he said.
Also, many feel isolated, without anyone to talk to or show support.
Asian Access in Japan is trying to turn this number around.
Takazawa said the church in Japan needs to reach out to
society, rather than waiting for the hopeless to come knocking on the church doors.
"We're encouraging our Japanese pastors to become a
true bridge to those people who desperately need hope and salvation of Christ,"
One way they did this was by sending several pastors to the
U.S. through the pastor's vision tour. These pastors visited Portland, Oregon and
Seattle, Washington, as well as Vancouver, B.C. and according to A2's Web site, "had
a very fruitful time."
Takazawa said Seattle area is one of the least-evangelized
places in the U.S. Thus, the pastors observed the unique models and approaches
evangelists used there and were taught how to use them in Japan.
The pastors realized two main issues they needed to address
in Japan as a result of the conference.
First, Takazawa said, "[The] Church needs ears to listen to
society. The answer is Jesus Christ, always, but what questions are they
Second, they became aware of the need to create
multi-site churches. Rather than keeping the church in one location, the church
would go to the searching and allow them to connect on a deeper level.
Pray for the church in Japan as they seek to reach out to lost and hopeless individuals. Pray that they will reach people before they feel
the need to end their lives.
To learn more about the ministry of Asian Access and how you
can get involved, click here.