Japan (IMB/MNN) — Michiko found answers in Jesus Christ instead of the cult-like religion, Shiinyo-en, which she had been a member of for 10 years. She wanted to quit because no answers for the critical illness and depression she was facing could be found. But the cult threatened to punish her.
Michiko became a believer during a church meeting in which she heard the song "You're Born To Be Loved." Michiko's heart began softening and opening to God, and she began to hear God's call on her life.
"As I heard that song, I could not stop my tears," she remembers. "The first thing the pastor said is, 'The reason you're born is that you're loved by God.' I realized the reason I'm here is because God made me and loved me."
Michicko and her husband are now believers. She believes God has taken the life she wasted and turned it into something beautiful, and He is rebuilding her marriage on Christ.
The general position taken by the people of Japan is one of indifference and conformity. A Japanese proverb sums it up best: "The nail that sticks its head up is the one that gets hit." Because of this fear of stepping out of the box and having views that are different than everyone else's, many don't have a relationship with Christ.
This type of atmosphere and cultural expectation makes witnessing in the nation of Japan very difficult. Less than half of one percent profess to have faith in Jesus Christ. Missionaries seek to witness and connect with people through relational evangelism – joining sports clubs, quilting and cooking classes, and business groups.
Southern Baptist International Mission Board Missionary Buddy Brents, formerly of Odessa, Texas explains: "There are so many spiritual strongholds. … [Japanese people] are so locked up in fear of what other people will think about them if they become a Christian."
Japan is called the "land of 8 million gods" and for good reason. Most people claim to believe in religions that are a combination of Shintoism and Buddhism. The Shinto religion's main emphasis is ancestor worship and fear of gods. It also involves various prayers and superstitious practices.
Pray that more people would come to believe in Jesus Christ and that the Gospel message would be spread. Pray for strength, courage and encouragement for the missionaries in Japan. Pray for the faith and boldness of Michiko and her husband to increase so that they could witness to their friends.