/ Nathan Eshelman

The "Go En" and the Land of the Rising Son

What if there was a nation in the 10/40 Window that could be easily reached with the gospel? What if that nation had less than 1% of the population profess Christianity? What if that nation was completely open to missionaries and other gospel workers? Would you want to see missionaries and gospel workers enter that land?

There is such a nation.

My wife and I had the opportunity to labor in Kobe, Japan, last month. I was asked to come and lecture at Kobe Theological Hall and to speak at the family conference of the Japan Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a great honor to be among men and women who make so many cultural sacrifices to confess Jesus Christ.

At customs I was asked my reason for being in Japan. I told the custom’s officer that I was there to teach at a seminary and that I am a Christian pastor by profession.

“Welcome to Japan.”

My passport was stamped without question.

Japan is nation of great honor and pride. It is a nation of great wealth and resourceful people. Yet at the same time, it is a nation that is plagued by unbelief and superstition. It is a nation that is unreached with the gospel as less than 1% of the nation claims to be evangelical Christian. It is a nation that is quite like the first century into which Christianity came... and flourished.

According to missiologists the definition of “unreached people” is “an ethnolinguistic people among whom there is no viable indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people without outside (cross-cultural) assistance” (Operation World).

What that means is that the Christian church in Japan is so insignificant that those from other nations must come along side her to assist in church planting, evangelizing, training ministers, and even serving in the churches as office bearers. The church in Japan is weak, needy, and, sadly, aging.

The denomination in which I am a minister has had a mission to Japan even since the close of World War II. As Reformed Presbyterian missionaries were driven out of China in the early 1950s they naturally were looking for another place to minister to the Chinese people. Japan had many expatriates from China and our missionaries began a work in neighboring Japan. Consequently, the focus of attention eventually turned from the Chinese people to the indigenous people of Japan.

Sixty years later, there are four congregations, one mission church, a theological hall (seminary), and a book room all laboring in the beautiful city of Kobe on the Osaka Bay of the Pacific Ocean. The pastors of the Japan Presbytery serve the four corners of Kobe and Kobe Theological Hall is in the middle of the city and serves as a presbytery center as the pastors and elders meet, pray, discuss, envision, and act.

One of the things that stood out to me is that the presbytery considers “tent making” the norm as the pastors work other jobs to support their own ministries. From clothing store clerks to seminary professors, these men are not above tent making to see the gospel flourish in the land of the rising sun. Japan is a great nation as well as a strategic nation, missiologically speaking. But it remains unreached. And because it is unreached, those who are faithfully proclaiming the gospel to the 126 million or so unbelievers need brothers and sisters to come along side of them in prayer and support.

The Japanese “go en” or five ¥en coin is a great reminder of how we can pray for Japan. The “go en” is the traditional coin given at the Shinto shrines and that fact is a reminder of the unbelief that covers the nation. The face of the “go en” has three images: rice, water, and a gear. Please pray that the Lord would provide for the daily needs of our brothers and sisters in Japan (rice). Ask that the Holy Spirit would pour out his saving grace upon the people of this nation (water). And plead that the laborers would labor industriously for the cause of Christ (gear) with their eyes fixed on him. The back of the coin has two sprouts among the Japanese characters. Pray that the Lord would plant seeds of the gospel and bring them to fulness; and pray that the presbytery would plant many churches throughout the highways and biways of the land of the rising Son.

_If you would like to give to the Japan Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, you may do so here. Please indicate that your donation is for Japan. _

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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