In this 150th anniversary of Protestants coming to Japan, I recall Bob Finley (former Youth For Christ evangelist-turned-Director of Christian Aid Mission?dedicated to helping native preachers around the world) and Dr. Ralph Winter (now in heaven) meeting and arguing vehemently on the subject of sending blonde missionaries from Minnesota versus supporting native preachers. I tried to be a referee, having then spent some 40 years as a missionary in Asia. (Thatfs now 58.)
I finally got Ralph to admit that there is great virtue in native missionaries and got Finley to admit an exception: missionary kids. They should be included with native missionaries because they know the language, the smells, the moods, and have the pulse of the country they grew up in?if they played with local children and didnft live behind wire enclosures like they sometimes did in China and India.
And they are coming back! Check it outc Dale Little, president of JEMA; Tim Johnson, vice president of TEAM; our own Ken, of the Japan Helpline; Debbie Reese May, active in JEMA womenfs ministryc the Baums, Benedicts, Bergs, Blocksoms, Bostroms, Clarks, Coles, Coxes, Elkins, Essenbergs, Foxwells, Goodals, Huggins, Junkers, Kaylors, Kivles, LaDues, Maxeys, Meekos, Mullinsf, Penners, Reddingtons, Reids, Rodgers, Rogersf, Schwabs, Simeonsons, Sorleys, Suzukis, Swansons, Systmas, Thomsons, Turners, Uomotos, Verweys, Westbergsc and many more?the list goes on and on. Even if we name the ones we know, we will inadvertently overlook some. The Boude and Lardner Moores get first prize with four generations of Japan MKs!
Eye-opening comments and facts about the need for missionaries in Asia (and that includes Japan!) are laid out in a 232 page book by Indian Reverend K.P. Yohannan entitled Revolution in World Missions, with more than 2 million copies in print. (You can get Yohannanfs book free at http://www.gfa.org.) I canft review the book here, but its message has been summarized by my old YFC buddy Greg Tingson of the Philippines, chairman of our Asian Evangelists Commission. He said, "Even if we got 100,000 Western missionaries, the Bible still says in Tagalog ego ye into all the world and preach the gospel," and that includes [Filipinos] and Westerners. Complementors, not competitors.
However, Rev. Yohannan gives five reasons why he believes itfs wiser to support native missionaries in their own land than to send Westerners:
1) It`s wise stewardship.
2) In many places the presence of Western missionaries projects the myth that Christianity is a religion of the West.
3) Western missionaries and the money they bring compromise the natural growth and innocence of the national church.
4) Western missionaries cannot easily go to the countries where most of the 2 billion hidden people live.
5) Western missionaries seldom are effective today in reaching Asians and establishing local churches in the villages.
Please, prospective MK missionaries, donft let this interfere with Godfs call to you. Why am I still gung-ho for MKs coming? Here`s why:
"Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38 (AMP)
"When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd."
Matthew 9:36 (AMP)
This was Jesus response: "as he went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity."
Matthew 9:35 (AMP)
So, as co-laborers with the Lord of the harvest, we must obey his command to "pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest" here in Japan.
Every four years the Inter-Varsity Missionary Conference at Urbana gathers some 17,000 collegians to hear the best English-speaking speakers from many countries seeking to enlist zealous missionary workers to fields that are white unto harvest. Four years ago, half of the young people filled out forms provided by a computer matching service indicating that they were seriously considering the missionary call. These were put into computers and matched with their talents, which were reported in detail, and more than 200 mission boards showed they needed workers. The sad statistics showed, however, that only 4 out of every 1,000 ever became full-time missionaries. Since Jesus, himself, put such high priority on the need to gforce out and thrust laborers,h we know that wherever God raises up a gchurch,h Satan comes next door and starts a gtent meetingh to quench the fire of God in the hearts of the called. This happens with MKs as well as collegians of great promise.
With this in mind, we sent out a questionnaire to 50 leading mission board chairmen in Japan (60% replied) to see what is happening to the most fitting, suitable missionary recruits?those precious treasures?missionary children born and reared here in Japan since World War II.
Our MK survey pointed out that 4% of adult missionary kids come back.
However, many MKs today are still in the tender care of their families. Like MacArthur, we pray that they gshall returnh once theyfve studied in their homelands. Wefre in the fifth inning. Quitters never win and winners never quit!
When asked to give some reasons why MKs were not returning in greater numbers to Japan, mission leaders wrote:
1) Felt God wanted him/her in some other work 86%
2) Married and settled down in their homeland 85%
3) Are still in training and may come in the future 79%
4) Bogged down with college debts, so finances are inadequate 14%
5) Objected to deputation, begging for support and prayer 14% Fall 2009 29
6) Disliked being shifted from one open missionary house to the next 14%
7) Lost their faith and/or vision for missions at a school in Japan or abroad 9%
8) Did not enjoy Japanese society 9%
9) Felt parents were unable to lead them spiritually 0.2%
10) Applied but were turned down 0.2%
We know itfs not because they lack talent. This is brought out by a survey of gWhofs Who in America,h which, while listing one out of several thousand whose parents were lawyers, teachers and even ministers, it showed that one in eight is a child of missionaries! An MK!
As to the question: "To get more MKs back to Japan, what do you think we can still do?" we received these most helpful replies:
1) Pray for more MKs by name, especially as they leave Japan 70%
2) Put them in gwatch-careh touch with home churches to pray for them and aid them while they are there 40%
3) Encourage their national friends to write them and visit them if possible 19%
While engaged in a crusade in India, I met a former famous missionary couple who had raised several children in Japan. None had any inclination to return as missionaries. I asked the parents, "If you had to do it all over again, what would you do different to get more of your own MKs to return as bona fide missionaries?"
The well-known evangelist father said, "I`d try to be home more when they were growing up, instead of being gone almost 80% of the time in mass meetings."
The mother replied, "We would make more time to spend our summers together on the beach."
Some other replies we got to our questionnaire were:
1) I believe it is a mistake to send young children away for their schooling. No matter how good the school is, how dedicated the teachers and staff, they can never take the place of parents. It implants in the child that gthe workh is more important than he or she is. (This was before homeschooling took off.) No matter how well they gcovered up,h there sometimes remained a bitterness toward missionary service as such. And yet I do not think the solution to this problem is for everyone to move within commuting distance of a good Christian school, either.
2) There must be more complete reliance on God, not only for Christian work in Japan, but also for the children.
3) More time should be given to cultural things, less to meetings.
4) Missionary service has completely changed; wefre now working under national churches.
5) There is very little missionary emphasis in the homeland.
6) Missionary children sometimes are less effective than their parents.
Since most Japan MKs have similar backgrounds in work and schools, one wonders why one mission had 21% for returnees and others had only 2% or even none.
One element that stands out in the case of the largest group that had very few returnees is that the children have had to move with their parents from one empty missionary house to another, before and after furloughs. There was really no `anchor.` Each time this meant new adjustments to a new neighborhood, new people, new church, new friends and perhaps a new school.
Often MKs who have returned have been those of parents who either owned their own homes or at least `stayed put` term after term in one place. These MKs felt like they were returning ghomeh because they had deeper roots in some social neighborhood church setting. Naturally, then, when the time comes to graduate from Bible college or some other post-secondary school, these people find it more appealing to return "home" not only to the family, but also to friends, neighbors, and familiar churches.
Others may not identify with Japan because their parents were more missionary group oriented than mixing with the natives, so the children felt no "roots" in Nippon.
To give credit where credit is due, the largest group of returnees are children of missionaries related to the Church of Christ. The second largest are those related to the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.
With 97% of the Japanese not Christians and 24,000 villages with no witness, it is good for zealous MKs to carry the gospel to the unevangelized, as they can work with a Japanese pastor in tandem even better than their parents did.
We need concentrated, consecrated prayer of the whole missionary community for these gems of God. It is of his doing and it will glorify his harvest field. Remember, gGod never orders a great seed-sowing unless he plans a great Japan Harvest. Amen!
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright ? 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.