DESCRIBE WHAT THE LORD HAS CALLED YOU TO DO & THE COMMITMENT YOU HAVE MADE TO ANSWER THAT CALL:
The Lord has called us to proclaim the Gospel and establish a local church in
Japan. To answer that call, ten years ago we quit our jobs in the U.S., got rid of
most of our belongings, and prepared to move to Japan. Eight years ago we
arrived and began three years of language training. During those first three
years, we rented a house in the middle of a normal Japanese community called
Tokida, and started spreading the light of the Gospel in the context of personal
relationships with our neighbors, taking every opportunity to mix with the
people. For instance, Tim joined the men’s softball team, Christiane joined a
women’s group. With our official language study finished, we were ready to
transition into three years of internship at a large assembly in the nearby city of
Takasaki. But before leaving, one of our neighbors, Tim’s best friend on the
softball team, asked why we had to go. We explained how we needed further
training and experience. Then he asked what the training was for. When we told
him we planned to establish a church somewhere in Japan where there currently is no church, he asked us to return to Tokida and start our church there, since Tokida had never had a church. From that moment we thought of his request as a kind of ‘Macedonian Call,’ and committed ourselves to returning to the area once our training was completed. Two years ago that vision became reality when the Lord allowed us to purchase a property just five minutes from this man’s house. We are currently renovating the buildings on the property for the Lord’s use. Over the past two years, we’ve been building trusting relationships with our new neighbors, and expect to open a Japanese Bible study for our community this
TELL US ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU MINISTER TO:
The Japanese are in the majority a courteous, clean, neat and orderly people. The
country has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Japan’s roads are some of
the safest in the world. In business, the sciences and sports, Japan has world-
class status. Poverty is basically non-existent. The average standard of living is high. The educational system is excellent, yielding a literacy rate of 99% and producing some of the most brilliant engineers in the world. There is a strong
work ethic and sense of obligation to honor the government. In fact, people are so dedicated to work that many men stay well past their allotted time, often getting home well after the rest of the family have gone to bed. Some people rarely have a day off. When there is free time to spend, people are involved in a wide variety of activities besides work. The Japanese love sports and physical activity in general. They enjoy nature, so hiking and the arts are also popular. In short, the Japanese appear on the surface to have it all together. But just below the surface there is rampant spiritual poverty and despair. Whereas, materially speaking, the Japanese are some of the richest people in the world, spiritually speaking they rank among the world’s poorest. There are two main religions here: Shintoism and Buddhism. Both entail numerous rites and festivals. At this point, over 80% of Japanese classify themselves as ‘non-religious’ (= having no religion); yet in practice they are thoroughly religious. That is to say, while
asserting they don’t believe what Shintoism or Buddhism teach, they more or less carefully observe the traditions of both religions. To be Japanese is to faithfully submit to both religious and social mores. Japanese society is insidious. Whatever the decision may be, people are always wondering what others will think of them or otherwise what will be the social consequences were they to choose this over that. Everyone is concerned about not incurring personal or group shame. So basically Japanese are slaves to fear. To not comply with the norms of the social structure, whether it be school, family or company, is to be branded a misfit or upstart. The greatest moral good in Japan is to maintain the status quo, to protect the harmony of the group at all costs—to not become a burden or detriment. As a result of living under such social pressures, depression is more and more common and over thirty thousand Japanese take their own lives each year. The bottom line is this: the Japanese are desperate for forgiveness, hope, true joy, and peace—just the things the Gospel holds out to them. Yet, the average Japanese knows nothing at all about Jesus or the Bible.
WHAT ARE CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN THE MISSION FIELD?
On the top of the list has to be the way the Japanese as a whole fiercely insulate
themselves against fundamental philosophical change from foreign influence.
There is a definite Japanese identity and philosophy of life, or world view, that
has been protected for centuries. Over the years, the Japanese have voraciously
borrowed and assimilated scientific knowledge or technology from outside their
own culture and society, but have consistently resisted the influence of foreign
religions—that is, after Buddhism entered the islands in the sixth century A.D.
And historically there has been particular resistance to Christianity. Around the
middle of the sixteenth century, European trading ships came to Japan for the
first time. On board were Roman Catholic priests and muskets. About fifty years
later the shogun, feeling threatened by the traders’ muskets and the growing
influence of the priests, put an end to open trading, expelled the priests,
outlawed Christianity entirely and put to death every single Japanese Christian
he could find. Two hundred fifty years later (1867), when the shogun’s
government was replaced by the modern government, the ban on Christianity was lifted. But what was branded into the Japanese consciousness for two-
hundred fifty years couldn’t be erased in one day. Christianity was, it seems,
forever identified with harmful foreign influence. Even though the average
Japanese today doesn’t think about all this history on a daily basis, there’s still
the popular feeling that Christianity will never belong in Japan. As a result,
instead of experiencing open persecution by being beaten physically or put in
prison, as missionaries here we are simply considered irrelevant and ignored.
Another challenge we face is the tendency Japanese believers have to leave the
work of evangelism, or other work in the local church, to the ‘experts.’ Japanese
society stresses the need for credentials. Once I told a Japanese brother I had
changed out my winter tires with summer tires—by myself. His jaw literally
dropped in disbelief that I hadn’t gone to the auto shop to have the experts do
this. He was genuinely concerned that one of my wheels would fall off on my way
home from the meeting. As a result, it’s rare to have a Japanese believer taking initiative in evangelism or Bible teaching. This makes discipleship training difficult. People are quite ready to gain more head knowledge. They’re used to studying with books, pen and pencil. But they’re not used to reaching out to the lost or to their fellow believers with a message that challenges to action. Again, the mentality is to maintain the status quo. People don’t want to offend, or rock the boat. But the Gospel by its nature rocks the boat, and truly edifying believer-to-believer ministry does pretty much the same thing.
Lastly, a big challenge here is the length of time it takes to win people’s trust.
From our experience, in order to lead a Japanese to Christ, you must first win his
trust. Person to person the length of time varies, but recently a statistic came out
saying on average it takes eight years under the influence of the Gospel for a
Japanese to come to Christ. Another statistic says a missionary in Japan can
expect one conversion for each full year of service. We realize these are only
statistics and the Lord can blow statistics away, but to this point these statistics
have been validated in our experience.
HOW CAN WE PRAY FOR YOU?
What we need most are faith, patience and perseverance. We know what our
calling is, and we’ve seen confirmation over and over that we are where we’re
supposed to be, and are doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We just need to keep at it, without getting discouraged or loosing zeal. Especially in this culture it
seems, consistency is key. Anyway, we’re committed to being here for the rest of our lives, as the Lord allows. Of course we want to see more than one soul per year come to faith. We want to remain expectant that the statistics above can be undone by the power and mercy of God toward the Japanese. We want our compassion for the Japanese to only ever get stronger. We need a mature Japanese couple to join us as ministry partners for our church-planting ministry. We don’t want to open an official worship meeting with the Lord’s Supper until there is at least one more elder to work together with me. One constant need is the need for greater fluency in the language. We’re always learning new words and expressions, and our pronunciation/intonation is always being improved, but one lifetime doesn’t seem enough to learn this language to the level we hope to attain. We don’t want the renovations to the property to encroach too much on our time with people. The improvements are necessary, however. Please pray for teams of experienced carpenters to come knock the work out as quickly as possible.
DESCRIBE ANY FINANCIAL/MATERIAL NEEDS OF THE MINISTRY:
If we had to mention a current financial need, it would be for funds to purchase
building materials for the renovations. We have three houses and two sheds on
the property. The houses we call houses A, B, and C. Right now we’re living in
house C, but eventually this house will be a place where people in need of
counseling can stay on a short-term basis. Last year a good portion of the
renovations on this house were completed, but there’s still a ways to go. Anyway,
it’s livable. Next we are praying to be able to put a new roof and new exterior
walls on House B in 2019. Eventually House B will be our home. We’re currently
in the process of applying to adopt a Japanese child, and we’d like to adopt more
in the future if possible. So we’ll need a larger living space, and one that is
properly insulated. House C is not properly insulated and therefore is for the
most part as cold inside as it is outside. This fall I (Tim) will be making a trip to
Canada to fill a shipping container with new and used building materials for use
on House B. Believe it or not doing things this way will save us a lot of money.
Materials here are very expensive. We have need of funds to fill and ship this
container. For example, we plan to purchase enough board insulation to cover
House B. A variety of smaller items will fill the rest of the container.
Right now House A is a place where work teams can stay. Last year we had a
team of eleven come from Pennsylvania. Eventually it will serve as the meeting
place for our new local church. This leads me to say that if there are skilled
carpenters willing to come help here, we would be thrilled to have them. They
would meet a real material need. I was a carpenter before coming to Japan, and
have been doing a lot of the work myself, but as you can imagine, things get quite
overwhelming at times.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHALLENGE US WITH?
Please don’t overlook Japan. According to the Joshua Project, an organization monitoring current trends in missions world-wide, believe it or not the second largest unreached people group on the planet is the Japanese people. There are incredible needs here, and the door is wide open. Japan is one of the last countries on earth offering a missionary visa. Preaching of the Gospel is not restricted. People may ignore you, but they will not shoot you or stab you or
blow up your house. In fact, many Japanese secretly long to know about the God of the Bible, or about what Christianity really is. The Lord is working here, but the workers are very few. Please let me add here that it would be a huge encouragement to have more workers come serve the Lord in Japan—whether they worked with us or on their own somewhere.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VERSE/QUOTE?
Timothy’s Favorite quote: The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever. – Isaiah 40:8
Christiane’s Favorite Quote: I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.- Psalms 116:1
WHAT IS THE BEST/PREFERRED METHOD OF SENDING MONETARY GIFTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS MINISTRY?
We receive funds through the missions service organization called Christian
Missions in Many Lands (CMML). It’s possible to send donations to CMML, with a note included specifying the funds are meant for Tim and Christiane Marcy.
It’s also possible to donate electronically via their website.
Funds can also be sent by conventional mail to MSC Canada, a sister organization
to CMML, located near Toronto, Ontario. There address is as follows:
101 Amber Street, Unit 16
Markham, Ontario, Canada