Over the last year I have been blessed to visit great organizations around Asia that are working with children. In Indonesia we shared strategies and techniques with World Relief who are working with the children of asylum seekers that are growing up in a detention center in Bali. In the Philippines we have partnered with the Philippine Children’s Ministry Network as they moved rapidly to respond to the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda. In Mongolia we collaborated with World Vision, Compassion International, One Hope and Awana to challenge and encourage hundreds of pastors and children’s ministry workers in a nation with a modern Christian history of scarcely over 25 years.
Why are relief and development ministries like World Vision and Compassion investing so heavily in encouraging strong church involvement with children?
It is simple. The local church is the number #1 partner when disaster strikes or in combatting poverty. We have been so amazed to see how dynamic and powerful the churches in the Philippines have been to rally in support of the OperationSAFE child trauma work. Hundreds of volunteers have been trained and swiftly mobilized all because the churches are already networked and active in children’s work. After seeing what the Lord is doing in each of these places, we came back each time with an even heavier burden for Japan. What is the state of children’s ministry in this country? Some sobering statistics have emerged. Over half of the churches in Japan no longer have any children’s ministry whatsoever! Where post-war Japan had as many as 90 children on AVERAGE attending Sunday schools at churches, that number has dropped in recent years to less than 9. It is easy to see that children’s ministry attendance is a leading indicator of the health of the church, and the emptying of our Sunday schools is only a precursor to the emptying of the churches. The church in Japan is approaching a very real crisis! What can we do about it? CRASH Japan is a sponsoring member of the 4/14 Window Movement in Japan. What is the 4/14 Window? It is very simply the most effective window of opportunity to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. We are joining efforts with many of the same groups that came together to work so well during the 2011 Tsunami disaster to meet this new crisis; the Japan Evangelical Association, Samaritan’s Purse, One Hope, Awana, 7Media, Family Forum Japan and many many more. The way we see it there are three major points to begin in prayer.
If there is any future for the church in Japan it begins with the children. D. L. Moody once said that if he could go back and do it all over again he would have devoted his entire ministry to reaching children.
Although over 70% of people who receive Christ as their Savior do it between the ages of 4 to 14 years old, only a small fraction of the ministry of the churches are concentrated on this critical age group. We are challenging the churches to rethink their priorities.
Children are not just the object of our ministry but are also part of the ministry themselves. The prayers of children, worship of children, testimonies of children and service of children are all vital to reaching Japan with the authentic gospel of Jesus.
Please join us on July 12th for a day of challenge and encouragement in Tokyo, Japan as we host Dr. Luis Bush who coined the term 4/14 Window and has graciously offered to come to Japan to address us in this time of crisis.