In a collectivist culture like Japan, people pride themselves on blending in. Something as simple as dressing differently from the rest of your coworkers could cause anxiety.
This is the dilemma that many Japanese seekers face when they explore the Christian faith.
“In Japan, there is little opportunity to know Jesus Christ, especially if they’re looking for success in the business world,” says Rev. Masao Yamashita, who leads the Japanese language outreach of Back to God Ministries International.
Mr. Masaki knows the challenge of keeping his faith a secret while trying to maintain a successful corporate position in southern Japan.
For the past seven years, Masaki has been following BTGMI’s Japanese language ministry programs online. He didn’t attend church but faithfully read the daily devotionals, studied the Bible, and enjoyed the sermons.
“Media ministry provides good resources for people like Masaki through the internet,” said Yamashita.
Even when people in Maskai’s position are considering a visit to a church they are often apprehensive and scared about what a worship service looks like, according to Yamashita. Many stay home because they don't know what is behind the doors of a church.
Last year Yamashita launched The Church in My Town video series to address this apprehension, allowing people to visit a church from their computer or smartphone.
So far, Rev. Yamashita has produced 31 of these videos featuring different churches from the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ). The videos include interviews with the pastor and members, directions to the church by public transportation, and an overview of the church’s values.
So far, the videos average about 1,800 views each, mainly on the ministry’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
Mr. Masaki felt free to be more open about his beliefs after he retired in late 2018. He reached out to BTGMI’s Japanese ministry team to thank them for the years of discipleship that their programs provided.
Masaki also shared that he was baptized at an RCJ church not long after stepping into it for the first time.
“Please remember Mr. Masaki Shimoda in your prayers,” says Yamashita. “Pray that he walks with Christ throughout the rest of his life.”