- (Photo: Kydod/Reuters)
Jesus.net Japan was originally launched to provide aid, comfort, and support to those stricken with grief and confusion from last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and resulted in a nuclear power plant accident. On the anniversary of the disasters, Jesus.net Japan has launched a series of smaller websites that serve to connect people to local churches and resources within their communities.
Jesus.net Japan believes that online evangelism will prove effective within the Japanese culture. "The disasters last spring and the continuing economic upheaval here have people wondering what life is about more than ever before," former Japanese missionary and U.S. spokesperson for Jesus.net Japan Christian Zebley said in a press release. "The Japanese are a very private people and do not talk about religion easily. Many already use the Internet to answer questions or find information about topics considered too embarrassing to discuss in person."
Speaking to The Christian Post, spokesperson for the organization Palmer Holt added that online evangelism is a great tool in Japan because, "Most Japanese don't have any Christian friends or relatives or visit churches. They are also very private when it comes to discussing religion and other personal matters. The Internet, where so many spend time, provides a safe place to inquire about life issues and God."
Jesus.net Japan expects the one-year anniversary of the disasters to send more people in search of answers about God. As Holt said, "News coverage will show Japan is still recovering from the disaster and that great needs there – physical, emotional and financial – still exist. This should increase interest in Jesus.net Japan-related outreach websites." Holt added that he believes the anniversary of the disasters will "spur Americans and others in the West to support this important ministry opportunity through prayer and financial support."
The initial website, Hope For Living (www.hopeforliving.net), was launched shortly after the March 11, 2011 disasters. Along with offering supportive prayers, the website connects users to survivors of other earthquakes who found support and help through their Christian faith. For the anniversary of the disasters, the site will feature a video series that focuses on the tsunami survivors who subsequently found faith. These videos were made with the help of Samaritan's Purse.
One of Jesus.net Japan's new websites is called Why Jesus (http://www.why.jesus.net) and is meant to connect users with their church community. The site features a five-week interactive course in which users work with an "e-coach." Once the course is completed coaches set users up with a local church.
Another new site is called Knowing God (http://www.knowinggod.jp) and will connect interested users with the Gospel.
Jesus.net Japan's goal is to provide those who seek answers with those answers. "We want to give people an opportunity to get answers and hope where they spend a lot of time – on the Internet – and connect them with other Japanese who have satisfied the longings of their hearts in Jesus," said Zebley.
The organization does not plan to focus on Japan alone. "Jesus.net, the parent ministry of Jesus.net Japan, which will expand to 35 languages, expects to expose 250 million people around the world to the Gospel over the next 10 years, and anticipates 25 million decisions for Christ," Holt shared.