Nonogaki Rpt – Sept ’15
A New Class: “Western Civilization and Its Influences on Japanese” (Sept 28)
I have been teaching Western Civilization to two students who want to study English. This has been going well. I would like to teach this subject in Japanese to Japanese people, which is the initial objective of this project. I would like to have at least two students in one class. The class has 12 80-minute sessions. I will cover the following subjects. The first semester will begin in January if I have two students.
1. Japanese world-view, history of ancient near east
2. History of ancient Greece and its culture
3. History of Israel and Judaism
4. History of Roman Empire
5. The beginning of Christianity and its history
6. Middle Age (600-1000)
7. Middle Age (1000-1300)
8. Middle Age (1300-1500)
9. Renaissance (1350-1550)
10. Economy and Colonialism (1300-1600)
11. Absolutism (1660-1789)
12. Enlightenment and the influences of Western Civilization on Japanese
Sunday Activities (Sept 23)
Many Japanese men, if not a majority, still work five days a week until late at night. Therefore, Sunday is a day of rest or family time. Some get involved in other activities such as as baseball or tennis or golf. Probably their having the Sunday activities is one of the biggest barriers to inviting them to the assembly on Sundays.
We have to come up with some different ways of reaching out to them. There must be something more interesting and exciting than Sunday-baseball. The worship service and bible studies must be meaningful to them. This is a spiritual battle. Having a fun entertaining time is one thing; having an authentic biblical worship is another thing. I pray our worship time is meaningful and joyful to non-Christians and is acceptable to God.
Sharing Faith in Christ (Sept 23)
I would like the church to be open to the public. Letting non-Christians use the building for their purpose or hobbies is one thing. In this case they are in a closed room and do not interact with Christians. But using the building for the common things is another thing. I would like people know about us and come to us more freely. There must be common interests such as a hobby and a pastime between non-Christians and Christians.
Paul encourages us not to conform to the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2), but he does not mean we should not interact with non-Christians. We are definitely expected to influence them. In order to do so, we must get to know them and they must get to know us. We get involved in each other’s lives.
Sharing faith in Christ must take place in more open atmosphere and more casual settings. I believe this is a key to reaching out to people in Japan. Japanese society and world view are very pluralistic and tolerant to other world views. Faith in God, the creator of Universe does not accord with the Japanese world view. I am not suggesting that we compromise our faith, but share our views of the world in a gentle manner with them. I wish I could be speaking the word of God out there in the public street just as Paul did in Greek cities, but this does not go along with Japanese culture. The growth is so slow that I am often frustrated, but I must know God’s way and timing, and carry out his mission in his way.
An Open Church to the Communities (Sept 22)
The general perception of Japanese people on Church is that only Christians are permitted to attend the assembly. Probably this has been the long time perception since Christianity came to Japan several hundreds years ago. Somehow we must break this barrier. We must let people know we are open to the communities and anyone is welcome. I will put the ads that anybody is welcome if they want to do “just watching” at the assembly. We must make a grass roots movement of Christianity. We must break the barrier and the prejudice that Christianity or church will bind people by rules and regulations. They are free to come and go and leave if they want. Remember Christ did not bind or keep some of his disciples when they wanted to leave him (John 6:66).
I have come to believe this free spirit and atmosphere is very important to reach out to Japanese people. By this, I do not mean that people can do anything they wish to do in the assembly. I would like them to feel free and not bound by anything and any teachings. After all, whether or not a person accepts Christ is his personal choice and decision. Free interactions and fellowship must take place while people do not feel pressured.
The parables in Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24 teach me that we need to invite anybody, rich and poor, good and bad, young and old, male and female and anybody out there in the world.
Inviting a Retired Military Person or Couple (Sept 10)
We have been thinking about the possibility of inviting a retired military person or couple to work with the American military church for 4-6 months. Recently we have a low number of American members. It has been told that 2-3% of the people on the Yokota Base are affiliated with Church of Christ. Some people may be afraid of going out of the base. Others may not know the presence of Yokota Church of Christ. We must actively reach out to people on the Base, but civilians even Americans cannot freely go to the base. A military-retired person can have a free access to the base and work with American members.
We pay for their airfare and room and board. They stay at the upstairs of the church building. We pray that God will lead us in this matter and God’s will be done.
Masa Nonogaki; Yokota, Tokyo