Prayer Request for Japanese Reformed Presbytery

  You might not understand, but it is the fact. Only until 60 years ago there was a nation in this world where the pastor was interrogated by the secret police, "Which do you claim as your King, the emperor or the Christ." Some evangelical pastors were killed in the jail because of purely theological question: he said that the Christ will come again as the King who reigns over the kingdoms. It is not the story of the Church's history of the old age. Just several decades ago, though another side of this earth.

  Yes, Japan had claimed itself soberly as the Kingdom of God, and the people there had been forced to believe through its public education system that the emperor is the living God. The secret police came to the church service, and the preachers were arrested and investigated whether they believed in the emperor as true God or in Christ. It was because of the National Shintoism: a modern modification of the animistic Japanese folk religion and the religion of the emperor's ancestor worship. A Shinto theologian Atsutane Hirata learnt the religious system from Christian doctrine through Chinese translation, and systematized the Shintoism into the form of such man-made modern religion: Sun-goddess Amaterasu becomes the creator God, and the emperor himself becomes the incarnated living man-God. The Japanese government introduced this new religion as the core of the nation's unity when they legislated the modern constitution and educational code in 1890. They felt needed to compete against the western aggressiveness, and they found nothing among Japanese thoughts or religions suitable as the strong core of the nation like Christianity (Prime Minister Ito frankly admitted this in his address to the diet), so they introduced a newly modified National Shintoism as imitated doctrine from Christianity. The result was naturally the Anti-Christ: total brain washing of the whole nation centered in the emperor through enforced education, and countless Japanese had died willingly for the sake of their God, the emperor Hirohito, during the World War Two. After the end of the war, the emperor declared himself as human!! But presently there is still much danger in Japan the revival of National Shintoism, especially for the sake of support from reviving militarism. Because of this danger, we, Japanese Christians, are still very much cautious about Japanese remilitarization which has been recently stimulated by the Iraq war. Ignoring the Japanese post-war constitutional code of denying participation to any warfare as the solution of international conflict, yesterday the minister of defense ordered the Self Defense Army to go to Iraq. The purpose of doing such is to pretend to be a good ally to USA in view of the North Korean threat to Japan. But, there is dark side of such move and that is the strong potentiality in the Japanese politics to make Japanese nation back to the pre-war National Shinto identity and militaristic establishment. Prime minister Koizumi, Tokyo Mayor Ishihara, and Ex-Prime Minister Nakasone, have openly claimed such cause recently more. Former-Prime Minister Mori publicly and enthusiastically declared that Japan is the Kingdom of God. At the new year of 2004 our prime minister worshipped both at the Yasukuni Shrine (the shrine for the war dead and the center of the National Shintoism) and Ise Shrine (the shrine of the ancestor of the emperor) and signed that he worshipped as the prime minister. It is open violation of the post-war constitutional safe-guard against the National Shintoism. And moreover, Japanese government recently revived the pre-war national Shinto rite of bowing towards the national flag (the mark of the sun, which had been interpreted as the symbol of the Sun-goddess) in all the public school system compulsively. We Christians refuse to do it. Also they legislated the praise to the emperor's eternal reign as the national anthem and forced to all the public school students to sing. It is not like the British anthem. The background is the fact that the emperor was God. Teachers who refused to sing had been strictly punished every year recently. So what I say that the revival of National Shintoism is real here. You may not understand such anachronic symptom of the society by seeing recent development of modern society and technology of Japan, but this mixture of primitive animism and modern science is the mystery of Japanese heart. May be Japan is the most post-modern society in the 21st century world. We believe such anachronic element will invite the destruction to Japan again as the case of the World War Two.

  We the Reformed Presbyterians has the clear task here, that is the Biblical truth which no other branch of Christ's body proclaimed clearly yet in these islands of Japan. Biblical perspective of the mediatorial kingship of Christ provides the only consistent structure to picture theologically our church's wholistic task for Christ in Japan facing the national religious persecution. Except claiming Christ as the real King of the nation, we can not have real perspective and vision of consistent witness in this nation. We should not downsize our religion only within our personal relations by cutting every societal aspects out. If so, we can not survive as a consistent Christian in Japanese situation. Our faith and life in Christ will be torn apart by the dichotomy between the church life and the life in the secular persecuting nation. So for us, the past experiences of the Covenanters are precious treasury to learn for our praxis. From reformation time, true evangelical mentality has contained not only the principle of "Christ Saves", but the principle of "Christ Reigns", as the Psalms rightly praise well. In Japanese scene, this second principle is really at stake to establish the real Christian witness as well as the first. On this point we Japanese Reformed Presbyterians are much owing to our elder brothers, especially the Scottish and Irish church's instruction, concerning to how to be faithfully fight and win this nation spiritually for Christ.

  So our prayer request is:

  1.   At first, our faithful witness to Christ the king in this nation of Japan, by establishing a faithful covenanted church by His gracious and evangelizing Spirit. For the nation of Japan itself be free to obey Christ the King. For more sacrificial service and God-centered dedication of RP members to Christ and His church.

  2.   Pray for the pastors, missionary and their families. Especially for Pastor Pennington and his successor's recruit by the Foreign Mission Board. Pray for Licentiate Katsunori Endo and his family. For his calling to be the pastor in Japan, and for the process of his eligibility exam. planned by the presbytery.

  3.   Pray for the Kobe Theological Hall and its 17 students including many credit taking students. For the regular faculty and guest teachers: Dr.Duncan Lowe, Rev.Ralph Smith, Dr.Simon Kistemaker, Dr.Gene Spear, Rev.Bill Sterrett, Dr.Jonathan Watt and Principal Ted Donnely for the school year of 2003-4. Pray for the each congregation's plan of planting branch preaching station with the help of KTH students.

  4.   Thanksgiving for the 2000 edition of new Japanese psalter and the good reaction to the newly published Psalms CD (with Korean Choir singing). For the work of the Japanese Psalm editing committee of the presbytery restarted and now studying Ps.77.

  5.   For the completion of the translation of church's constitution as the first step of our own Japanese Testimony. For the decision of how to introduce the third edition of New Japanese Bible(equivalent to NASB) to the church. For the better training of the elders and deacons to really believe and live in Japanese society according to our confession of faith.

  6.   For our relationship to Chinese mission and Korean Presbyterian churches. For our healthy and continuing fruitful relationship with North American RPC, in view of our mission principle of self-supporting, self-evangelizing, and self-governing. For our open eye towards our diaconal service in the society.

  7.   Pray for the elderly members for their faithful witness and good health. For the youth their training in their vocations to witness God as well as in theology at KTH. For their making Christian home. For kids, especially Junior High and High school kids, who win the Sabbath to come to the worship in spite of the Sunday activities of the school.

  8.   Most of all, for the conversion of the soul given from the Lord King to each of our congregation.

Sincerely in His service,
Shigeru Takiura
Pastor, Okamoto Keiyaku RPC
Japan Presbytery  RPCNA