Japan has been among the most resistant nations to Christianity, but the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in the north of the country appears to have brought churches closer together to get more involved in social relief efforts, Christianity Today magazine (July/August) reports.
In an interview, Tokyo pastor and theologian Atsuyoshi Fujiwara said Japan has had several encounters with Christianity usually during times of crisis, when the nation was open to Christianity but then rejected the faith when greater stability was achieved. Fujiwara says that the Japanese are at a new point in their history in giving Christianity a fresh look. Today, only about one percent of the population is Christian. After the 2011 disaster, Fujiwara said that “churches and organizations worked together beyond denominational walls to deliver food and supplies…Before the disaster, Japanese churches had been isolated from society without participating in regional festivals and activities, which were often connected to Shintoism and Buddhism . . . People saw the genuine motivation of Christian volunteers. Now churches are trusted.”
Fujiwara adds that churches have a stronger presence, at least in northern Japan where the disaster hit: “Buddhist monks now show respect to pastors who have strong Christian convictions and suffered together with them in helping people . . .”
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