Today was the first day of VBS in Wakaba. They’ve never had VBS at the mission in Wakaba. They’ve also never had a morning event here. Nobody knew how many people to expect to show up. Six children showed up including the three Smith children. The other three children are regular attendees.

Church attendance is much lower in Japan than it is in the United States. There are many cultural factors that create this difference in church attendance numbers. These cultural differences are difficult to pinpoint and explain. For the Japanese there seems to be a deeper felt connection between the few people that you know. The conversation isn’t necessarily any deeper between the people, but the felt connection is deeper. An expression of this is that Japanese don’t listen to people they do not know. Japanese will generally ignore you if they do not know you. This makes spreading the gospel and inviting people to church difficult. In addition, the Japanese people are inundated with flyers as they walk the streets and seem to be desensitized to the personal impact that the message of a flyer may have. These are just a few of the deep rooted differences between American culture and Japanese culture.

While American culture may be moving this way, it is much more deeply prevalent here. This seems to indicate that some methods of spreading the gospel such as door to door soul winning and tracts aren’t as effective here. For example, ten thousand door to door invitations and tract handouts may result in a single visitor, maybe. That is if you can even get to the door. Most Japanese homes have gates so you cannot approach the door. It seems that if the gospel is to spread here it must be along already established relationships such as family, friends, and coworkers. This does not mean that Japan cannot be reached, but to be an effective missionary one may need to use evangelism strategies that are different than those used in the USA.

The theme for VBS was “Jesus loves me.”  I was able to play the guitar to accompany the Japanese versions of Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World, Jesus Loves Me, and a native Christian children’s song. Amy introduced me and explained that the airplane ride had messed up my voice so I was stuck talking like Donald duck. The children enjoyed my Donald duck voice. Jenelle brought some bookmarks and stickers along that said Jesus Loves Me. It’s very rare to find Christian items in Japan so they were very special.

The VBS lesson was taught by Wakaba’s resident Bible student and was about Jesus feeding the five thousand. The point of the message was that God can use anyone that is willing to be used, even little children. It was precious to see Japanese children soaking up the word of God taught by a native.

We played some relay race games outside and it was very hot. The temperatures are about the same in Japan as they are in Saint Louis, but the humidity feels higher and the buildings do not have central air conditioning. Needless to say our bodies have to adjust to the heat. The Japanese drink a tea made from barley in the summer to help stay hydrated. We also had individually wrapped squares of jello as a snack.

Japanese people are generally socially closed, but Jenelle was blessed to have an open conversation with Era-san, a mother of a child that was attending VBS. She explained how she was saved as a result of her husband’s counsel from the scriptures as she went through an extremely difficult circumstance.

God is working at the Wakaba mission. Please pray for them.