Yesterday, we prayed for missionary kids or MK’s. It is with a very heavy heart that I write today’s post.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.” Psalm 34:18
When we went to our missionary orientation in Springfield, Missouri in March, Chad Philips of ISMK (International Association of Missionary Kids, a department of Member Care with AGWM- an awesome ministry to MK’s) recommended a book we should read called “Shutting Out The Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation” by Michael Zielenziger. It is a heartbreaking book on the reality of the hikikomori in Japan, and the cultural epidemic happening.
The word hikikomori in Japanese literally means “pulling inward, being confined.” The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry defines hikikomori as individuals who have stayed at home for at least six months without going to school or work, or going outside of the home to have interaction with others.
According to a recent government survey it is estimated there are 541,000 young home recluses, from ages 15-39. It was noted the numbers have doubled for those who are age 35-39. This particular survey didn’t take into account those who are over the age of 40. The numbers who confine themselves may be even higher since in Japanese culture is very shame based, so parents and relatives may not be reporting their family members as being hikikomori. You can read more about this issue here.
There are various reasons for why the hikikomori choose, or rather feel like they must banish themselves from the outside world. In American culture individuality is celebrated, but in Japanese culture, one must conform themselves to be like everyone else. There is so much social pressure to fit in, classmates bully those who seem weird or different, and it can be common for the teachers to bully as well.
Attending high school is not guaranteed because you have to pass certain entrance exams, and if you don’t have good grades you may not have the opportunity to attend. Some may feel like they can’t take the pressure to perform in their education, so instead of going to school, they lock themselves away. These factors are also attributing to the high teen suicide in Japan.
Hikikomori is such a complex issue, and we could write so much more. It is a huge part of why we are so compelled to minister to children in Japan. What if we could show the Japanese children there is more to life than making it into a good school, getting a good job, and making a lot of money? What if they were able to hear about and experience the love of Jesus? Many haven’t even heard the name of Jesus. What if they could learn about Jesus, our God who truly loves and cares about every detail of their life? This has become our life’s work. Please pray with us for the hikikomori, and for them to find the hope of Jesus.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
Financially speaking, the 10 – 10 – 10 campaign has been a huge success! We have far surpassed 10% of our monthly budget, and are now much closer to 15%. Yesterday was a blur of commitments made and gifts coming in, it’ll take a day or two to sort it out. Thank you to all of our new supporters! If you are interested in helping us reach 15% of our budget, you can make a commitment by clicking here. Remember to use the box that says, “Set up reoccurring gift.” Of course we are also thrilled to receive one time gifts. Each dollar and dime that comes in helps us to share God’s love with the children of Japan! Thanks again!