Japan (MNN) — As cherry blossoms bloom across Japan, the country has barred international spectators from the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympics due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. 600,000 people bought tickets to watch the games in-person.
Asian Access had planned to send ministry teams into this massive crowd. Joe Handley says, “We’ve completely shifted the approach to virtual, short-term mission trips. The ongoing preparation since September has been focused on these kinds of virtual experiences. You get to know the country, and you get to see what’s happening on the ground. We connect you with people that can advise culturally. And then you get to engage.” You can learn more about these trips and register here.
A new season for the Church
These trips reflect a pivot in Japan towards virtual churches during the pandemic. Believers have made good use of digital technology to stay connected.
Handley says Japanese Christians see the Olympics as a springboard for what God will do next through the Church there. “I think that this whole pandemic has given new realities to the life of the global Church, and how we’re going to do ministry in the future. Fascinatingly enough, it comes in this cherry blossom season, when new life can be birthed.”
Pray the Japanese church can fulfill its incredible vision of planting 50 thousand churches in the country. Handley says, “I think it’s gonna take an entrepreneurial spirit, that new wineskin approach to life and ministry.”
The header photo shows cherry blossoms in Japan. (Photo courtesy of Kanenori on Pixabay)