“There is a lot to be done to bring the Gospel to Japan,” he said. “In a society where only 1.5 per cent of the population claim to be Christian and the suicide rate is appalling, it is only the gospel of God’s grace in Christ that can provide any answers.”
Mission Partners is currently in the process of helping a couple from Queensland, leave to serve in Japan from 2012 and a couple from Chatswood which plans to serve in Japan in the next few years. Mr Murray said he did not expect their plans to change as a consequence of the tsunami. However, getting information has been tricky.
“In Japan we work with the Presbyterian Church of America’s missions arm, Mission to World, so as far as up to date information on the tsunami relief goes, we are relying on information from team leader Dan Iverson,” he said.
“In the first few days after the disaster, the MTW team rented a truck and distributed aid, but the full effects of the damage to property and life are yet to be realised.
“They were seeking to mobilize and relieve incredible suffering and pain in the name of Christ to the five million people of the devastated areas and praying that this will bring a turning to the true and living God, and to Christ and his grace and love. Japan really needs true hope that does not disappoint.”
Mr Murray said Mr Iverson had emailed to say while Japan had grown strong economically and educationally and had “made it”, with 100 per cent literacy, longest life expectancy in the world, and so on, like in Ecclesiastes 2, so many Japanese people who sought the `abundant’ life had found that “all is vanity.”
“The areas affected by the earthquake and tsunamis of Miyagi, Fukushima, and Ibaraki are some of the most spiritually needy places in Japan,” he said. “With more than 4.9 million people yet only about 9000 active Christians (about 0.15 per cent; about 1/6 of one per cent); Fukushima has the lowest average worship attendance in all of Japan with only 19 per church.
“There are is one city and 44 towns with no church at all,” he said. “There are 86 missionaries (adults, including husband and wife) assigned to these prefectures. One town in Ibaraki has over 46,000 people with no church and several others have over 24,000 people with no churches. Average attendance for all the churches in Japan is the lowest in Fukushima prefecture. Ibaraki prefecture has the least number of people claiming to have any religious beliefs.”
For information on how to financially support the team, contact Mr Murray by phone on 02-9792 1373 or 0421 366 720 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org