Japan (MNN) — One in every four marriages in Japan now ends
in divorce. The issue has been a source of concern for a society in which
families are a core strength. The
Japanese grow up following their society's emphasis on social
interdependence—the concept of being members of the whole as opposed to the
responsibilities take precedence over individual desires, and familial
relations provide the model for social integration at all levels. Furthermore,
the family plays an important role in determining individual life chances. That's why the rising divorce rates have
shaken the society to its core. The
family unit foundation is falling apart for both this generation and the next, tearing at the fabric of their society.
There are ways this is being addressed. Tim Clark with Asian Access is working with a
pilot program called "The Marriage Course" by Alpha. However, some of the facilitators were
concerned about how it would be received by the Japanese.
It's a delicate issue because the Japanese are known for their
sensitivity, propriety and privacy
regarding marriage and families.
That was soon overcome. Clark acknowledges that "many
start the course with a little bit of skepticism and hesitancy, not wanting to
go deep into discussion. But both Christians and non-Christians are finding it
to be a great way to ease into discussing important matters that are crucial to
the health of their marriages."
The Alpha Course provides a comfortable environment to
people from all walks of life to discuss and learn about foundational issues of
the Christian faith. The course is designed to serve those seeking to study the
essential basics–new believers as well as seekers (those who have not yet
come to a place of fully believing).
From the course came a seven-week study for marriages. Participating couples are equipped with
biblical tools for communication, conflict resolution and growth.
Clark says interest is rapidly growing from the three
marriage courses running now, and A2 is
beginning the Japanese translation of the course materials. "There are very few resources in Japan
for strengthening marriages and families. Many churches are recognizing this
need, both for church members as well as for their friends and others who aren't a part of the church."