Pastor Hiroshi Minegishi (above) stands on the ground in Kesennuma, Japan, where his church once stood. But it is no longer there. It, along with much of the rest of the region, was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
For decades, Japan has been considered a difficult area for Christianity. Despite religious freedom, Japan is home to one of the largest unreached people groups in the world. Only about 0.25 percent of the population considers themselves to be evangelical Christians. For years, it was nearly impossible to broadcast Christian programming on local radio. Then, in 2011, a tsunami hit and devastated a large area of Japan. It was at this point that doors began to open for TWR to begin sharing the hope of Christ over FM radio.
Samuel Tan, TWR’s International Director for Northeast Asia, sees God working in new ways in Japan. “This is the appointed time to bring the gospel to this people group,” Tan said.
Today, TWR has several programs aired over 15 radio stations throughout Japan, including the Kumamoto region, which experienced an earthquake in 2016. Station managers are not only willing to air gospel programming, but some have even made their studios available for recording the programs.
TWR Canada broadcasts an evangelistic program entitled Power of the Gospel. There are 17 Japanese pastors involved in this program; many of them pastor churches near the stations where the programs are aired. Partnering with local churches is an important part of this ministry because churches are able to provide long-term spiritual follow-up to listeners who contact the station. With the help of these pastors, TWR Asia was also able to organize several prayer meetings in Japan in 2017.
In 2015, when TWR Canada began broadcasting Power of the Gospel, the station manager commented that the messages in the program were both relevant and hopeful. As the program continued and we began to receive listener feedback, the responses were similar. For example, one listener wrote, “I always listen to your program on the way back from work when I’m tired and weary. Sometimes I listen in tears. The songs and God’s Word move me so much. It gives me the strength to live for tomorrow.”
Another listener wrote, “I used to go to church, but I stopped going four years ago. The feeling that God had deserted me grew stronger over time. I happened to listen to your program today and was able to listen to the pastor preach from the Bible. Tears came down while I was listening to it. I was reminded of God’s love that covers my rebellion and rejection. I was the one refusing him. I want to go back to church. I will listen again.”
Minegishi is one of the pastors who teach on Power of the Gospel. After the tsunami, Pastor Minegishi was convicted that the church needs to go out and share the gospel, and he strengthened his commitment to doing God’s work. Many people after the earthquake had moved to temporary housing so he began reaching out to them. “I think it is my duty to share the gospel with them,” Minegishi said. Even today, some of these people remain in ‘temporary housing,’ and Minegishi continues to minister to them. Minegishi says that before the tsunami, churches were more internally-focused and did not share the message of Christ outside the church. Today, churches and Christians are much bolder in sharing the gospel.
TWR Canada continues to broadcast Power of the Gospel with plans of expansion to a new station in 2018. As well, Minegishi was able to rebuild his church after the tsunami.
-- Adapted from TWR Asia’s blog, "Lessons from a Tsunami"