Are you confused by the Christian ''Alphabet Soup" in Japan? You say you can't figure out the difference between JPF, JBCC, EMAJ, OEF, JBC, JCC, REAp, JCEM, NLL, WLPM, NCC, IBC, FAE, FCM? Well, relax ... you've got company. But it wasn't always like this. After the war when the Christian Church was picking itself up from the ashes of defeat, there were only a few al?phabets in the soup and among the first were the JBCC- Japan Bible Christian Council, and the NCC?National Council of Churches.
The men of God who founded the JBCC saw what happened to the Church that compromised with Shintoism, modernism, pacifism and socialism during WWII. They determined to build anew on the only true foundation, Jesus Christ and his infallible Word. So they established the JBCC as "an agency l n ~u.lvocally opposed to all forms Jf unbelief, idolatry and compro?mise with them, and unreservedly dedicated as a witness to the faith once for all delivered unto the saints."
The big problem then was liberalism and Shintoism. Today are added false pacifism, Soka Gakkai, pro-Communism, marriages of Christians to unbeleivers "anti-missionaryism," half pagan funerals, wordliness and the WCC`s unversalism, "second chance" and "no hell"-now even by some evangelicals.
A unique JBCC feature is its ability to take "instant action" on any problem under purview without going through laborious contortions and endless committees until the action is taken months too late. Thus the JBCC is, "a servant and a voice in maters requiring joint testimony nad unitied action, where mutal convicitions anre concerned, speaking with the impact of a untied voice."
Thought the JBCC has no offical organ, the quarterly English magazine REAP and Bible Times and Seisho Jiho have promotoed some of the JBCC`s fundamentalist stand against apostasy and for pure gospel. One major projrct was publishing Professor T. Yanagita`s book, Origins of Japanese Culture and Christianity. In confusion of today`s "alphabet soup," if you like the clear ring of the JBCC bell to action, why not join Winston Churchill who said, "The only way to go forward is to study the history backwards."
Then there was the JPC-the Japan Protestant Centennial. John Schwab, JEMA president, was the missionary in charge. I, as vice president, was in charge of PR. I got free full-page newspaper articles in the japan Times, Mainichi Shim bun, and Asahi shimbun. Then I made
a big blunder. Here we were yell?ing that Protestants had been here for 100 years, and the Buddhists laughed up their sleeves ... "We've been here for two thousand years!" When I discovered that Christians had been in Japan for 1,800 years, it was too late to stop the Centennial ship.
Over against the mission-orient?ed JBCC was EMAJ-the Evangeli?cal Missionary Association in Japan, that was missionary-oriented. That changed when C&MA missionary Paul McGarvey, American pastor turned missionary, made EMAJ and JCEM (the interim name ofJapan Council of Evangelical Missions) into JEMA-the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association. (Bureaucratic chairmen of boards were now in charge instead of entrepreneurial missionaries ... but if J continue too far with my personal opinions, this article could very well be titled "Controversy in japan, " which is very boring to lady missionaries. Then we'd be get?ting into "polemical disputes, " which happened in the New Testament when Paul sent one of his buddies back and asked for another to join him.)
Moving on, there was OEF-the Oriental Evangelical Fellowship, which was an extension of the FR: Fukuin Renmei (Gospel Fellowship), which would be the same as the WEF-World Evangelical Fel?lowship, as opposed to the WCC?World Council of Churches.
JCC was the Japan Christian College, which had 153 students when I was there. Now all denomi?nations are griping that they don't have enough young converts to go to Bible school. At least three Bible schools have closed.
NLL is still New Life League, Japan, but the change in their Japanese name to Shinsei Senkyo-dan means they are also known as New Life Ministries, Shinsei Sen?kyodan-NLMS. They have just put out Manga Messiah, the first of six mangas from the Old and New Testaments. New Life League has sent millions of pages of the Bible to China and 40 other countries.
The IBC was and is the Inter?Board Committee of Missions, which used to have over 400 mis?sionaries from the mainline denominations, now down to a few dozen. But that's better than Inter-missions in Tokyo, which quit. To confuse the alphabet soup with IBC, now we have FBC-Foreign Buyers Club-in Kob~.
The FAE was the Fellowship o( Asian Evangelicals, also affiliated with the ALCA-Asian Layman's Christian Association. I was the foreign coordinator for 35 yeats.
We Asian laymen would go to a foreign country and have a Chris?tian conference in the mornings and afternoons, and then at night an evangelistic service. They were held in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, but never got to In?donesia. I was forced to interpret in many places ... as in Vietnam when Evangelist Koji Honda preached the gospel message in Japanese, which I interpreted into English, and then a Vietnamese interpreted into their language. So Honda's 10 minutes became 30 minutes, but we saw 644 decisions for Christ just the month before it fell.
The FCM was the Fellowship of Christian Missionaries, which met every summer at Nojiri-ko. You could go there to get a liberal taste and then to Karuizawa-both in Nagano-ken-to get an evangelical message. Slowly but surely the liber?als lost members and power. Their J CQ-Japan Christian Quarterly? put out some weighty articles, but faded just like their annual directory.
The JBCC had a big convention in Karuizawa and Hachioji when Carl Mclntire came out, but since the death of this lone funda?mentalist, I can't name one. The word fundamentalist has become a dirty word to be smeared on sui?cide bombers in the Middle East, who learned the techniques from the 18-year-old Japanese suicide bombers-who after training, drank whiskey on their one-way trip to die for the emperor to live forever. ''I'll meet you at Yasukuni" was their call. We are "Protestants," but many are "Tolerants." I prefer the word "Essentialists" not "Fundamentalists."
Aren't you glad that today there are not so many in the alphabet soup? How about A2, which means Asian Access!
But I haven't finished talking about publications. When I was editor of the japan Harvest, wehad a meeting of the elders every summer in Karuizawa during the EMAJ conference and I met with all the older missionaries who had experience to critique the Harvest. One old-timer born in Japan, Will McIlwaine, said, "Joseph, I couldn't last at that job for more than one year because you are in the middle of two thousand missionaries who have 2001 different opinions."
That's why I ask you to pray for our present editor, Gary Bauman, which translated into German means "tree man." And he has to be as solid as an oak to put up with all of our criticism, but hopefully also our plaudits.
WLPM is Word of Life Press Ministries-they used to put out an annual directory of their own, but now the jEMA Directory is the only one.
The Kirisuto shimbun, put out by the liberals, was challenged by the Kurisuchan shimbun and both are still alive and well, though the latter turned into a tabloid. Joining the newspaper fray is the Revival Shim bun, the charismatic voice that said, "If you won't give us a place at the table we'll make our own table." Each boasts from 2,500 to 5,000 copies a week.
Add to this jujika no Koe-Voice of the Cross-a fourth newspaper put out by a group which doesn't believe in building churches, but renting auditoriums and sending the offerings to foreign missions.
Ready to call for an aspirin for your headache in trying to figure out all the alphabet soup? Then we'll just stop right here!