Mobilising Diverse Skills to Support the Church in Japan

Wednesday, 28 February 2024 Mobilising Diverse Skills to Support the Church in Japan Japan uniquely blends an ancient civilisation’s rich traditions, with an incredibly modern and technologically advanced culture. With a population of 125 million, less than one percent are committed Christians, making Japan the largest homogenous community without Christ worldwide. The church in Japan is small yet vibrant and the need for disciple makers willing to use their unique skills in ministry is essential, especially in a culture that values mentorship. 

With a desire to spread the Good News of Jesus throughout Japan, SIM serves in the country through a strategic partnership (A3). Together, we have a vision to identify, develop and release emerging Kingdom leaders who will unite the local church, multiply leaders and congregations, and extend the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Rob Adair, who leads the SIM team in Japan, has been serving in Japan for the last 18 years. His burden for the people of Japan to experience Jesus’ love first developed after a summer trip to Japan with his university Christian group. 

Having witnessed a population where more than 99% did not know Christ and having developed friendships with people who placed their trust and hope in idols, Rob cultivated a desire to serve the people he deeply cared for. 

“God used a three-year process of me going to Japan for the summer, then going back to university, talking to friends and mentors,” said Rob. “Is this a seasonal thing or is God calling me into this long term with my vocation? After three summers, I became convinced that it was the direction God was pointing me too and I’ve been there ever since.”

The strategy for the team in Japan is to multiply disciples by partnering with the church in Japan. He explained, “We come alongside Japanese brothers and sisters, bringing our skills, gifts and abilities – everything God has blessed us with. Anything we bring, we can bring to the table.” Working alongside Japanese Christians allows the ministries to have a permanence and depth of cultural understanding that is difficult for outsiders to achieve in isolation. 

“A Japanese pastor friend of mine often jokes that getting on an airplane for 9 hours doesn't turn you into the Apostle Paul,” said Robert. “We end up doing on the mission field what we do at home. So, if you're somebody that loves one-on-one evangelism, small groups and intimate relationships, there's room to do that in Japan. If you're somebody that likes big groups, outreach, a lot of energy and excitement and has an outgoing personality, there's room for that in Japan.” 

The team in Japan has mission workers that work with the church and bring a variety of skills to their ministries. The team in Japan has mission workers who teach English. They also have counsellors, people involved in sports ministry, music, foster homes, elderly care, orphanages and ministry to people experiencing homelessness.  

“Within the overall construct of partnership, there is room to use who you are, how God has created you, and what skills you have in ministry,” Rob explained. “It’s the Japanese Christian who is most committed to seeing their country come to Christ, and we have the privilege of being a part of that story.” 

The Ripple Effect of Faith 

In the aftermath of a devastating tsunami, Rob’s church community in Japan encountered a woman—a professional in her forties and a single mother. Praise God she came to faith and was ready to be baptised. However, her elderly parents told her that she couldn’t be baptised. In Japanese culture, it is a core value to respect the hierarchy in the family and respect the wisdom of those older than you.  

The woman sought counsel from Rob and a young Japanese pastor from the church, asking for advice on how to navigate the tension between following her faith and the ancient customs of her culture.
Rob and the other young Japanese man told the woman: “You're an adult, you can do this and make your own decision. We step away from our parents to follow Christ. 

“We thought we knew what was best,” Rob admitted. “Then we talked to an older Japanese pastor we knew, and he suggested we slow down a little bit and go and meet the family to find out what the concerns of the parents really are.”  

Following a lot of prayer and conversation over some time, the elderly parents who were once staunch oppositions of Christianity, accepted Jesus and got baptised. Followed by their daughter and their granddaughter.  

Rob reflected, “Our well-intentioned aggressiveness or desire to see fruit quickly or to help empower an individual might have been effective for that one mother, but it also could have damaged her surrounding relationships.”  

“I’m grateful for the wisdom of our ministry partner to say, ‘let's slow down and see what God's doing in the bigger picture here’. I think that's the repeated rhythm I've seen through my years in Japan is trying to be faithful in doing the things I can do to the best of my ability and wait with expectancy, hope and reliance for Jesus to come through.” 
GO: Do you have a heart to support the local church in Japan with SIM? Start the conversation with a Mission Mobiliser today to find out how you can serve with your skills. Get in touch by visiting  

PRAY: Pray that God would soften hearts to the Gospel in Japan and the church would be effective in making disciples for His glory. 



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