Missionhurst shares its trials and strategies for bringing Christ to one of the most challenging missionary countries.
Even though religion is not very important to the Japanese culture, Japan is very important to the Missionhurst missionaries.
Our charism is to “go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation” (Mk.16:15). We are sent to the nations to announce the Good News, wherever our missionary presence is most needed, especially where the Gospel is not known or lived.
We have met people who tell us that: “I have everything I need to live on well. I have a luxurious car and apartment, I have got a very good job and have a very good salary, etc. But, I do not know the reason why I am living. In this wealthy context, many people are lonely, unhappy, and feel they are rejected.
How do we reach them? One word – friendship.
We try to befriend people we meet, especially the youth. When they come to our parishes, we try our best to approach them, not as priests or missionaries, but as friends. In such a circumstance, we even accept to be called under our family names (Johnny san: Mr. Johnny rather than being called father which can sometimes mean: we are not of the same class. We are very attentive to their culture).
We play together, organize summer camp or go out to play bowling or for dinner. We do this with the hope that once a mutual trust is established, they will be asking questions about what we do. For instance, when sharing meal with them, a Missionhurst missionary will pray without asking them to do the same. And the second or third time, we can see them doing the same on their own.
We positively respond to all invitations we have to go to schools to celebrate Mass or put on a Christmas party. And during this Mass, we try our best to use the language accessible to them.
In the parishes we are working in, we very often set a time to have Mass only for children or young ones. This helps them feel free to take responsibilities by being part of the preparation of the Mass.
Our mission strategy in Japan
Although we enjoy developing friendships, in order to get the Japanese to feel the desire to discover their true self and learn more about Christ, we have to have a very thorough and culturally sensitive plan established.
Here are some of the efforts that we have currently been pursuing intentionally:
On the religious-spiritual frontier …
Continue efforts at first Evangelization
We offer chances for the individual (especially the youth) to discover his/her true self and to facilitate his/her encounter with God’s unconditional love fully revealed in Jesus Christ. We envision our Catholic Correspondence Course to function in the service of first evangelization.
Foster total human education of youth
We reach out to young people in schools through religious teaching and through chaplaincy. With other teachers we accompany the students in their quest for life’s meaning. Our Junshin High School provides a privileged site for encounter with youth in schools.
Promote Interreligious Dialogue and Dialogue of Life
To the minority that seeks a spiritual path and who finds it in the traditional and new religions we reach out through interreligious dialogue leading to purification and enrichment of each other’s religious traditions. This will be done through interreligious exchange and spiritual encounters with representatives of other religions.
We envision that our Oriens Institute for Religious Research will also function at the service of interreligious dialogue.To the religiously indifferent majority we reach out mainly through a dialogue of life in view of fostering truly universal values.
On the socio-economic frontier…
Promote and work for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
We constantly hold occasions to raise JPIC awareness among ourselves, sharing about the root causes of injustices, conflicts and destruction of the environment. We promote the same with our entrusted communities in view of concerted actions.
Accompany young workers through the Young Christians Workers Movement
We want to be collaborators of young people in their search for true dignity through the YCW Movement. We find in the YCW method Review of Life and Worker Action (ROLWA) an effective way by which young workers themselves discover actions that can change their lives and promote their dignity
Promote holistic care of migrants and itinerant workers
We promote the participation of foreigners in local society, not simply as a group to be assimilated, but as contributors toward a multicultural society. We envision that a relation based on common humanity will be realized among foreigners and Japanese, transforming that which is based on economic necessity or social condescension.
On the ecclesial frontier…
Promote collaboration among parishes so that they may grow in becoming leaven and light in society. (Collaborative/Team Ministry)
We accept the parishes to which we are assigned as blessings and fruits of earlier and current missionary-pastoral efforts. Where possible we participate in the articulation of the vision and thrust of the dioceses where we are and endeavor for their realization.
We respond positively to the call for more collaboration believing that more gifts and talents may serve the parish communities. We continue to reflect among ourselves and with fellow missionary-pastoral agents how collaboration is done concretely and to share a corresponding spirituality.
We envision that parishes serve as venues for “first evangelization.” Through parishes we reach out to people by way of Griffin Courses, Bible-prayer sharing and neighborhood groups; offering silence and meditation, evangelical lifestyle; and promoting dialogue about life issues.
Through our keen proclamation of the Good News and through worship and liturgical celebrations, we hope that people may experience an encounter with the Risen Lord and with the community of His disciples. Thus we envision that the parishes become communities of disciples that make disciples.
We also strive that the parishioners reach out more and become more accommodating communities especially to the weak and the foreigners. Through ongoing formation programs we aim at the continuous transformation of the parishes so that they may become centers of radiance and communities where total human education, solidarity, acceptance, forgiveness, healing and love can be experienced.
God is present
Even though the Japanese culture typically doesn’t embrace faith as an important part of their lives, they certainly are a hurting society who are desperately searching for meaning to their lives.
Missionhurst is steadfastly here: befriending them, walking with them and working to win their confidence and demonstrate God’s love for them. We love this country and these people and want them to see the peace that comes when they recognize and accept God's love into their lives.
We thank you for all of your support and prayers! Please continue to keep Japan and our work with these wonderful people in your prayers.
Interested in learning more about our mission work in Japan?