Last Sunday, each of us shared what God had been speaking to us over the past three months at Soma Fuchu. We just ended a study through the book of Phillipians.
One college student who recently started to attend our gatherings shared this.
“I just started studying the Bible and I don’t know it very well yet. However I realized that everyone prays for each other for both good and bad things a lot here. And I think that is amazing. Before I came here, I thought that prayers were just for myself to recieve something.”
When she shared this, a light bulb was lit up above my head. I have never thought like that!
There are temples and shrines everywhere in Japan.
My understanding is that each temple or shrine represents a certain deity. Gods for health, money, relationships, success, and on goes the list. Therefore, when you have a need or request you visit the particular temple or shrine that houses the god over that. Then you pray to that god; to provide you with what you lack or desire and make an offering of either money, food or sake.
Her comment was a great reminder to me that I serve a God who comes to me and who listens to my prayers no matter where I am and no matter what I pray for. That is pretty amazing! Our God exist in and amongst our church family. Let us have joy in the fact that we can talk to our God anywhere, anytime about anything. We need not only bring our requests to the Lord but also our praise and thanksgivings. Let us also rejoice that he desires us to have relationship together with one another through church community.
Size 22 sq mi. 2nd largest in 23 wards
Setagaya has the largest population of any ward in Tokyo. It used to have the lowest population but after World War 2, the population increased dramatically. Due the the dramatic growth, the city is rather unorganized, making it easy to get lost. There is a saying, if you can drive well in Setagaya, then you will be a good taxi driver. With the constant growth comes constant rebuilding. They often tear down old buildings to build new ones. With the growth and rebuilding, it has become known as one of the richer areas of Tokyo and a target of crime making it 4th in criminal activity in Tokyo. Another problem of their growth brings to light Japan’s overall population decline and what to do with the citizens of Setagaya when they become elderly.
Please pray that the growth of Setagaya would be marked by gospel growth. Pray that the gospel would transform the lives of the people in Setagaya and the Christians would form families that change the outlook of this ward for the good of the nation and for the glory of God.
Size 5.5 sq mi. 16th largest in 23 wards
Meguro is known as the city for ladies. Meguro is well-known for being a modern city with fancy amenities that attract celebrities, artists and women from all around. Many women in their 30 to 40s pursue careers, homes, and lifestyles that center around the culture of Meguro. So, there are many educated ladies living in Meguro, who are single or married, but have no kids and instead focus on their careers or interests. Thus, Meguro’s population is one of the fastest decreasing populations in Tokyo.
Pray that the gospel would be proclaimed and that the idols of people’s hearts would be revealed. Pray that the power of the gospel would take affect and change the hearts of the people of Meguro. Pray that a new legacy would begin in Meguro, one that reflects the glory of God.
Join us this week as we pray for the Edogawa and Koto wards of Tokyo.
Edogawa (江戸川区) is located along the eastern side of Tokyo. It is one of the largest wards in Tokyo. Over 670,000 people live in the 20 sq miles that make of Edogawa. However, there are only 20 churches in Edogawa.
Koto (江東区) is located in southern Tokyo with several man made islands that extend into Tokyo Bay. Koto is roughly 15 sq miles with a population of over 500,000. There are only 17 churches located in Koto.
Both Koto and Edogawa are in need of church plants. There is an overwhelming ratio of people to churches right now. Both areas have also seen a resurgence in new building projects and residential areas that aim to bring in even more people. As you consider Tokyo this week, pray for the Lord to send more workers into the fields of Japan for the purpose of church planting.
Join Us this week as we pray for the Taito and Sumida wards.
Taito (台東区) is the smallest ward of Tokyo. Home to 175,000 people in an area of about 6 sq mi. There are only 16 churches located in Taito. Many elderly people call Taito home, because of its convenience and abundance of hospitals, grocery stores and other shops all located in close proximity with each other. Taito also contains one of the oldest districts in Tokyo, called Asakusa. With over 1400 years of history Asakusa is one of the most visited areas of Tokyo. It is home to several religious worship sites including the largest and oldest temple in Tokyo, Sensouji Temple. More than 30 million people visit Sensouji every year. Coupled with this spiritual darkness, Taito is also home to some of the largest, “Soaplands” in Tokyo. Marketed as bathhouses and massage parlors, these businesses exist in a legal gray area where prostitution is allowed but not widely advertised. This gives the appearance that the women of the parlors are employed just as with any other business but the truth is that many of them are trapped and enslaved.
As you pray for Taito this week pray against the spiritual darkness that covers Japan. Pray that the churches of Taito would shine the light of the gospel brightly against this darkness and that many would come to believe in Jesus. Pray that more churches would be planted so that the gospel message can continue to be proclaimed loudly throughout Tokyo. Pray for the women who are oppressed and trapped in the sex industry of Japan. Pray that they would find freedom and new identities in Christ and a new family in the church.
Sumida (墨田区) is home to the famous Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in the world. Living in just 8.5 sq mi are 250,000 people with only 14 churches. Like Taito, Sumida also has a long rich history. Known for its heritage, there are many families that have continued to remain in Sumida for generations, which makes it difficult for outsiders to move in and get involved in local communities. This also plays out in the education system of Sumida. In most wards schools are divided by the areas in which students live so that schools contain all the students from the area around it. But in Sumida, students are allowed to go to any school they choose. This also makes it difficult to be involved in the local community because interest is divided amongst different schools.
Therefore, as you pray for Sumida, pray that the gospel would become the means by which unity can be gained amongst the communities of Sumida. Pray that growth would continue through this unity and that more churches would be planted.
Itabashi (板橋区) and Nerima (練馬区) are two of the most important wards of Tokyo. They once made up a single ward until they were separated in 1947. Together these two wards contain the largest population of adolescents in Tokyo.
Itabashi is roughly 22 sq. mi. making it the 9th largest ward in Tokyo with a population of over 530,000 people. Itabashi is known for its factory industry, especially in printing. There are over 550 printing related companies based in Itabashi. The printing industry also led the ward to begin a unique relationship with Mongolia. In 1996, Mongolia faced a great paper shortage, so the printing companies of Itabashi stepped in a donated large quantities of paper and pencils to the people of Mongolia thereby establishing a relationship than continues. Today, Itabashi has the largest population of Mongolians in all of Tokyo. Also due to its thriving industry Itabashi claims home to the least commuters in Tokyo. This means that most of the people who live in Itabashi also work there. Itabashi also has the most hospitals of any ward in Tokyo with over 10,000 beds available. Sadly, Itabashi is also one of the poorest wards in Tokyo, ranking 18th out of the 23 wards for reliance on government support and welfare programs. To this end, Itabashi has the highest suicide rates of any ward in Tokyo. With only 25 churches in the ward the need for gospel presence is outstanding.
Nerima is the 5th largest ward (18 sq mi) and has a population of 710,000 people with only 33 churches. Nerima has more adolescents than any other ward. It is Tokyo’s greenest ward with over 40% used for agriculture including 628 parks. Nerima is also known as the origin of animation. Some of the first animation studios were started in Nerima and today there are over 90 animation studios operating in Nerima. Japanese animation influences cultures all around the world.
Please pray for Itabashi and Nerima:
Pray that more churches would be planted
Pray that the Christians of Itabashi and Nerima strive to boldly live out the gospel with missional lifestyles.
Pray that those considering suicide would find hope and reason for living in Christ.
Pray that more Christian leaders would be raised up out of the young people living among these wards.
Pray that animation might become a powerful tool with which to communication the gospel.
The traditional religions of Japan, Buddhism and Shintoism, are often viewed as nothing more than just that, tradition. Many Japanese would say that they don’t truly believe in either religion but you might find them at a local temple praying before a big life event or in their homes offering food to their ancestors. To this, they would respond that they are just being good Japanese and following the traditions set before them. However, the mood changes when you begin to talk about doing away with these traditions. Considering foregoing a visit to the temple on New Year’s, passing up an opportunity to pray for good grades on tests or for that promotion at work to come through. Or suggesting that one might do away with the family altar. This is when it becomes much more than tradition.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Japan greatly treasures its rich history and religious traditions to the point that it goes beyond formalities and crosses into the realm of identity. Some would say Japan is overly religious. So much of the culture of Japan traces back to religious roots that is extremely difficult to separate the Japanese identity from religion. With roots so deep and so old Japan needs revival to come. Only Jesus can give the Japanese a new identity and only through the work of the Holy Spirit can these religious ties be done away with.
Therefore friends, I would ask you as you pray this week to pray for Japan.
Pray that those who come in contact with Christians and missionaries would see what the hope of having an identity found in Jesus looks like.
Pray that they would hear the gospel and believe in it.
Pray that God would bring revival to this great nation.