Shikoku is a separate smaller island of Japan, made up of four rural prefectures. Most people live in the north of the region, while the larger southern area is mountainous and sparsely populated.
Thank God for the fellowship, cooperation, and prayer between pastors and churches in this region, and pray that this continues.
Churches in rural areas, as compared to urban ones, have their own specific concerns. Churches may be aging or declining due to demographic changes. Many of them may be without pastors or in need of renewal. Pray for God’s encouragement and provision for churches in rural areas of Japan.
Many struggling churches in Japan have a common feature: the pastor leads and members attend or participate minimally. One reason is cultural. Another reason is the busyness of church members. Some are simply too tired to attend church, let alone serve or engage with others.
Churches can start to lack joy, fellowship, and ownership. This can lead to a lack of outreach and few new believers. Churches face a very real spiritual battle and it is easy to get discouraged.
Pressure—to conform, to not make mistakes, to not admit weaknesses, to work beyond their limits—is often felt deeply by Japanese people. Many hide their true selves and are sensitive to how they are being viewed by others. When the daily stresses add up, the effects can be dire: mental health concerns, alcoholism, estranged families, and even suicide.
In a country where Christians are a tiny minority, pressure to conform can be felt as pressure not to become a Christian. For believers, conformity can be felt as pressure to keep their faith private and their struggles hidden.
There are about 4.2 million people in Japan who suffer from mental disorders. This is the number of people receiving treatment at hospitals. There are probably many more who suffer from mental illness and severe anxiety. Please pray that these people will be able to get the support they need and encounter Christ.
(Mental disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, epilepsy, addiction, autism, developmental disorders, eating disorders, PTSD, and many other mental illnesses.)
By installing a smartphone app called Echo, you will be able to use various functions that help you pray, such as reminder notifications.