An Update from Tokyo

Joey, along with Franklin Tseng, and Jay Kyle (right), at the conclusion of City to City's 4-week intensive.

Joey, along with Franklin Tseng and Jay Kyle (right), at the conclusion of City to City’s 4-week intensive.

Tokyo, Japan, 10:08 PM EDT — I came back to Tokyo two weeks ago, after being away for a month’s long training in 3 global cities with City to City Asia Pacific. I sincerely want to thank those of you who have supported us through your prayers and giving. While being away in other Asian cities I realized how Japanized I had become. I feel a sigh of relief that I am back on Japanese soil, but a great sense of “holy discontent” grips my heart, especially as I pray for Japan.

According to Operation World, these are just a few of the challenges facing the Japanese church:

Too often traditions and forms of worship have authority nearly equal to the Bible itself. Nonessential forms of the Church must be adapted to look less like the introduced Western culture of years past and more like 21st-century Japan.

The strong Confucian tradition in Japan has admirably created a society with high ethical standards; the need for the Church to maintain these standards as a minimum can often lead congregations into legalism.

At least 70% of all churches have an average attendance of less than 30. Too much is expected of the pastor. Pray for pastors willing to activate lay people to engage in persistent, innovative outreach to non-Christians. Most churches will not have even one baptism in any given year!

The lack of men in churches. The drive for success and desire to satisfy the demands of employers make it hard for men to openly identify with and become active in a church. On average, women attenders outnumber men 7 to 1.

We are hopeful in the Gospel.

Despite the contextual challenges we face, there are new Gospel-centered church plants coming up in Japan — more so in Tokyo. We’re so glad that three church planters from Tokyo and one from Osaka were represented in our recent City to City training. We also meet with movement-minded leaders, missionaries and church planters in Tokyo every two months for mutual mentoring and prayer. Prayer is so catalytic. There’s nothing else like it. This is why, more than ever, we need you to come alongside us as partners in mission, for the sake of the Gospel.

We need your partnership for the Gospel.

We are ready and feel more equipped than ever to lead this church plant to the next stage. In the coming weeks and months we’ll have information and vision meetings, which will allow us to connect with potential launch team members and volunteers. We would like to move closer to our target location, Shimokitazawa, but the rent and cost of living is higher than our current location in the Tokyo/Kawasaki border. My wife and I are both volunteers, working part and full-time jobs to support ourselves while leading this plant. But Japan’s working hours and demands often rob us of time and energy. While the workplace has been a good place for Yisel and me to share our faith, we also know that work has limited our ability to effectively lead this planting effort. Tokyo is a very expensive city to live in. In order for us to lead this church plant with fresh energy and spiritual vitality, we are prayerfully seeking to raise full-time financial support.

Take the next step with us: pray, give, and share our story with others.

To learn more about our ministry, you can watch this video and visit our website. Feel free to write to us — knowing that you’re praying for us is a huge encouragement. Connecting with us on Facebook is another great way to discover more about who we are, and we’d love to get to know you via Skype — our Skype ID is life-in-christ.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the Zorina’s work in Tokyo, you can do so via our online giving page. When prompted, simply choose “Zorina Support” from the drop-down menu.

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