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Asia Profile

Asia is characterized by diversity of racial, cultural, historical, and religious backgrounds. Percentages of adherents vary according to sources consulted, with about 22% of Asians identifying as “unaffiliated,” but all contemporary religions are present in Asia and all were birthed in Asia: Hinduism (25%), Islam (24%), Buddhism (12%), Christianity (7%), Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Judaism, Confucianism, and Taoism (World Atlas, 2018). Confucianism and Taoism are often not considered religions. Other than the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) Asian religions tend to be animistic.

According to Bong Rin Ro, many Asian governments seem to be trying to bring unity to their countries by invigorating these traditional religions. In addition, because Western or Japanese colonial rule is a part of the history of all East Asian and Southeast Asian countries except Thailand and Japan, most of Asia seeks to preserve and revitalize their indigenous cultures through emphasizing traditional religions and customs.

As a minority faith in Asia claiming only 7% of the population, Christianity is usually considered a foreign religion introduced through Western colonialism. Christians have faced opposition from governments, religious fanatics, traditional intellectuals, and secularists. This includes physical persecution. Nevertheless, the church is growing rapidly in South Korea, China, the Philippines, Singapore, and some Islamic countries.

Globalization has brought rapid economic development and constantly changing political, social, intellectual, and religious realities to Asia that create new challenges for the church. These developments are particularly noticeable in the megacities of Asia where about 51% of Asians live (World Economic Forum). Of the world’s 49 megacities 33 are in Asia and 19 of those will be in China by 2025 (Global Data). The largest megacity is Tokyo with 37 million people (Newsweek, Oct. 3, 2021). Reaching the megacities of Asia with the gospel of Jesus Christ might be the church of Asia’s biggest (yet largely neglected?) challenge.

In addition, the church in Asia faces internal challenges of theological beliefs and practices that are not consistent with biblical teaching. Theological liberalism that started with 17th century Schleiermacher and was then followed by theological movements such as neo-orthodoxy, secular theology, and post-liberalism have been attractive in the Asian church. But these have undermined the authority of the Bible and the gospel of God revealed in it, turning the Christian faith into relativistic human ethical constructs and denying the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps Asian Christians find themselves facing both external and internal challenges not unlike that of the early church: a minority faith looked down upon by the majority of people outside the faith and undermined by disagreements from within.

May the Lord of the harvest send more laborers to Asia!…especially to the megacities.

AsianXnTheo
Bong Rin Ro, “Foreword” in Asian Christian Theology: Evangelical Perspectives, general ed. Timoteo D. Gener, associate ed. Stephen T. Pardue (UK: Langham Global Library, 2019), p. xv-xvi.

To Maine for the Summer

In mid-June we returned to Maine USA for several months for ongoing medical treatment for Dale. The gradual reduction of medication for his auto-immune disease is going well and he hopes to be off meds later this year. Medical follow-up in Maine will be required every six months for a year or two.

2020_09 Boothbay ME Read More…

New Pastoral Couple for TMC English Ministries

We praise the Lord for leading Lucas & Hannah Chatelain to TMC!
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Lucas & Hannah responded to our recruitment email sent to the 1000+ evangelical missionaries in or connected with Japan through the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association. They are both US citizens, and Hannah is also Japanese. Hannah lived in Tokyo until about junior high school age and then moved to the US. They met after finishing their university studies in the US and after coming to Japan in 2011 to serve in different tsunami recovery ministries in northeastern Japan. Then they served with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for about nine years preparing for and following up after large BGEA gatherings in various countries in Asia. This ministry required moving to a different country every 12-16 months.

In late 2020 they decided to transition from their nomadic BGEA lifestyle to a more settled way of life in Tokyo, where Hannah’s father lives. They wanted to eventually serve in some kind of bi-vocational ministry after finding employment in Tokyo. When they read our TMC recruitment email they realized the Lord might want them in ministry sooner rather than later, so followed up with Dale about serving at TMC. After a few weeks of them getting to know TMC and TMC getting to know them, it became clear that TMC would be a good fit for them. So on May 30 TMC members invited Lucas & Hannah to join TMC staff as our part-time English ministries pastoral couple. About a week later they responded positively.

Lucas & Hannah are uniquely equipped to serve at TMC. Hannah completed her university studies in missions at Toccoa Falls College, Georgia. Lucas has completed two years of graduate online seminary study at Dallas Theological Seminary. He hopes to complete his M.Div. degree at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the coming years. Much of their prior BGEA ministry has been with international churches in Asia and the UK. They have both demonstrated their team work as Hannah has interpreted from English to Japanese for Lucas when it is his turn to preach at our twice a month joint English/Japanese worship services. Both are 34 yrs. so fit well with our young adults who seem to comprise the majority of TMC. They desire to encourage TMC’ers to share Christ with their family, friends, and colleagues.

We are now praying for and seeking another part-time pastoral couple who can join Lucas & Hannah to form an English ministries pastoral team at TMC.

Normal Japanese Animistic Religiosity

Here is a May 10, 2021, news item that made its rounds throughout Japan. It illustrates the normality of animistic practices that vary from town to town and lie at the heart of both Japanese Shinto and Buddhism. Read More…

Laying Plans for Passing the Baton at TMC

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  • Dale has been invited to continue teaching his annual one semester theology course at Japan Bible Seminary in modular format for as long as he wishes. This would require one or two trips to Tokyo every year.
  • We are being encouraged to continue serving as EFC of Canada Mission Asia Ministry Coaches. This would require at least half-time commitment, even though we are currently trying to do it on a part-time basis (inadequately). This too requires several trips to Asia each year.
During these 4-6 week Asia trips we would be based at our vacation house in northern Japan near Sendai, traveling from there to Tokyo and other places in Asia as required.

So after moving our primary home base to Maine we are anticipating continuing our Asia missionary ministry, often working out of our secondary home base in Japan.

But in view of personal unknowns such as Covid and our health (we are doing well now!), and the ministry unknown of whether an English ministries pastoral couple can replace us at TMC, we hold our plans lightly, confident only in our loving and majestic triune God.

Our house in Maine USA
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Our house at “Takayama by the Sea” near Sendai Japan
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Tokyo Multicultural Church Ministries

We are so pleased that in the midst of the pandemic the Lord is sustaining our TMC ministries and raising up a few new ones.
We are thankful for the following language-specific ministries that are providing avenues for Jesus to transform lives:
  • WORSHIP services on the first and third Sundays of the month are in both English and Japanese, through interpretation. Separate English and Japanese worship services meet on the remaining Sundays.
  • CHINESE FELLOWSHIP meets one Sunday afternoon a month for Bible study and fellowship. TMC hopes to eventually add a Chinese Mandarin worship service to our current English and Japanese language worship services.
  • SMALL GROUPS meet twice a month to discuss the sermon from that Sunday using discussion questions prepared by the preacher. We currently have one Japanese and two English groups.
  • PRAYER MEETINGS are held weekly in English and Japanese. The focus is on praying for one another and TMC. Prayer items from TMC members and attenders are compiled monthly in English.
  • BIBLE STUDIES meet three times a week in Japanese and once a week in English.
  • CHILDREN enjoy a monthly “Wakuwaku (exciting) Family Time” Bible story and craft in English and Japanese.
  • LADIES connect in English through a monthly newsletter that includes a short Bible devotional and one lady’s testimony, as well as through a social media group.
  • YOUNG ADULTS gather monthly for games and Bible discussion in English. Young adults are under the age of 40.
Our desire is to see new champions for even more ministries, and to see these people form the backbone of our TMC facilitator team.

Return to Tokyo, then Quarantine

God has been good to us!

We have seen him at work in our life and ministry.
On Dec. 26 we completed our six-month US home assignment and returned to Tokyo, arriving on Dec. 27, and then entered a 14-day quarantine. Our travel from Maine to Tokyo was not uneventful but we sensed the Lord’s presence as we jumped over each hurdle. Lord willing, we will very soon once again dive into in-person church planting ministry and leadership.

2021_01_01-7 DnA Read More…

Fall 2020 US Home Assignment and Health

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We left Tokyo for our scheduled US fall home assignment on July 17. During the summer we started setting up our house in Maine while also remotely serving and leading our church planting project at Tokyo Multicultural Church. We have been encouraged by the good medical care Dale has received since coming back to the US. Read More…

Home Assignment in Maine USA, scheduled for Jul-Nov

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Lord willing, on July 17 we begin our scheduled fall home assignment based in Maine. We plan to visit our supporting churches in the eastern US while Dale receives US-based treatment for his recently diagnosed disease: polymyalgia rheumatica. We will continue our church planting leadership of Tokyo Multicultural Church while in the US. Read More…

Pandemic Life and Ministry in Tokyo

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How are you doing during this pandemic?

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