Nagoya Missions Update – Toshi Saito
Hello Lighthouse Church Family!
As some of you may know, this past week we (Kim, Gavin, Toshi, Seichi) had the wonderful opportunity to visit Nagoya, Japan for a week. It was a blessing to fellowship with people such as the elders from ANF (Jeremy, Paul, Yu), professors from CBI (Brett, Gary, Damon), former interns of Lighthouse (Hide and Jefferson), and many others. The Lord was gracious in allowing us to spend time with them so that we may be mutually encouraged.
Pastor Kim taught a 5-day intensive biblical counseling class at CBI (Christ Bible Institute). The classroom was full, with pastors, missionaries, and para-church ministry leaders. Some students even came from the Kanto region (near Tokyo) just to take the class. Again, it was a blessing to meet brothers and sisters who have a desire to grow in their understanding of Biblical Counseling to help their people better.
It is exciting to see today, almost 5 years after Pastor John Piper wrote this article, that Christian leaders in Japan are being equipped to bring help and hope in Christ to the people of Japan through Biblical Counseling.
But this is only the beginning. In order for churches in Japan to thrive and mature, I believe we need more than just a few trained counselors. We need churches, with its culture, to be deeply rooted in the principles of Biblical Counseling. But I see at least two challenges for this to happen in Japan.
One challenge, as Pastor Kim also mentions in his blog post, is this: based on what I’ve heard from others and my own feeling as a Japanese national, there is a common belief among the Japanese that counseling is not for “normal” or “healthy” people. If you seek counseling, that means you have some serious issues that normal people do not have. Therefore, there is a sense of shame in the thought of seeking and receiving counseling. Because of that, people in Japan may not be as open to Biblical Counseling as those in other countries.
Another challenge is that many of the church leaders might see this Biblical Counseling movement in Japan as a foreign invasion that would hurt and tear down, rather than bless and build up, the existing churches in Japan. Even in the U.S. there seems to be a lack of clear understanding of what Biblical Counseling is. It is not any better in Japan and I can see how the leaders of Japanese churches can become suspicious of it.
There may be different ways to overcome these challenges, but one of the ways I believe is to model it. What I mean is this: If they see a church with its members thriving and maturing by grace through a Biblical Counseling culture, their hearts will be open to it. Of course, this cannot be done overnight. It will probably take a decade, or maybe even decades. But I’m glad that Lighthouse is a part of this exciting work for the glory of God and the joy of our brothers and sisters in Japan.
Would you please pray for the leaders of CBI and Lighthouse as they serve together for the gospel of Jesus Christ to strengthen the churches in Japan? Would you also seriously consider how you can be a part of this work in Japan, not because you are an experienced counselor, but because you have been a part of the community where people find help and hope in Christ through counseling one another?