Hi, my name is Luke Standridge. God has been knocking on my heart, calling me to missions for as long as I can remember. Until recently this absolutely terrified me, because of the fear I had of missions I totally sweped it under the rug. Three years ago I had the chance to start learning Japanese. Through this I was able to meet so many wonderful Japanese people in my community as well as in Japan through online language exchange. I was always struck by their kindness, hospitality and generosity to me.
All of these new interactions and friendships made me want to look more deeply into Japan and Japanese culture. What I found absolutely broke my heart. I learned that less than one half of one percent of the 127 million people in Japan are Christian. I learned that Japan's suicide rate is among the highest of any developed nation and is the leading cause of death for young men, every hour 3 people will take their own life. There is a deep hopelessness and depression among these people.
During the 4 months I spent in Japan over two different trips, I began to put so many names and faces to these statistics. I became friends with people who contemplated suicide and who struggle daily with hopelessness. But at the same time I also saw friends who told me they would never become a Christian start to read the bible, attend church and praying on their own. On my last day of teaching English at a Christian kindergarten one of the kids gave me their favorite toy asking me to never forget them.
Leaving these people in Japan was one of the most painful things I've ever done. There is so much work to be done, so many dying everyday without knowing about the love and hope of Jesus. That gentle knock from God calling me to missions had been steadily growing in intensity and frequency. God had been leading me on this path even when I chose to ignore it, He has been preparing me and honing my gifts in music, art and photography. He has given me a purpose, a passion and deep joy for this work. I have to go back to Japan to share the hope of Christ, let them know they have a Father who loves them deeply and is calling them by name as His children and that they are never alone.
- Japan has a population of 127 million people with 0.5% evangelicals and an annual evangelical growth rate of -0.4%. However, out of this population, 120 million are Japanese people. And only 0.3% are Evangelical Christians!
- Japan remains the second largest unreached people group in the world.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death among ages 15-39. 21,897 people took their own lives in 2016.
- Japan’s population is in rapid decline. Expected decrease of 20 million by the year 2050.
- There is one church for every 16,071 people. There is one missionary for every 64,244 people.
- Church growth is 1.2% over a period of 10 years. The largest seminary in Japan graduates 10 people a year. 70% of pastors are over the age of 50. 35 attendees per church.
- Women make up the majority of church members and often share about God with their families who may not affirm their newfound faith.