Special Report

While Christians planned to observe the centennial of Christian missions in Japan—where Protestant effort has enlisted only one-third of one per cent of the population—the Osaka crusade launched by Dr. Bob Pierce and World Vision emerged as the nation’s spectacular evangelistic development of the year. A July 4 converts’ rally in Festival Hall, a month after the three-week campaign, not only drew hundreds of young converts for additional instruction, but resulted in hundreds of conversions of their friends escorted to the meeting.

Pierce, who had travelled 15,000 miles in preaching missions in the intervening weeks, was greeted by a capacity 4,300 persons and an overflow of 2,500 lining the Dojima River. Almost one in three had not attended a meeting previously. A call for Christian commitment drew 300 seekers indoors and 284 outdoors. “Find a Bible-preaching church,” Pierce urged the converts, “and get to work there.”

The events in Osaka gained drama from the fact that, after a century of missions, Christian results are meager. Of Japan’s 91 million people, crowded into a land area the size of Montana, less than 400,000 are members of Protestant churches. The total membership of all Christian communions is 550,000. Population is growing by one million a year, so that the annual birth rate is virtually double the present Christian population. Thus the Christian percentage dwindles.

The Protestant missionary complement numbers about 1,700. Almost 400 are identified with the United Church of Japan (Kyodan) and the National Christian Council, with a constituency of about 300,000, but the remainder, the great majority, are unaffiliated evangelical missionaries representing more than 100,000 believers. Perhaps as nowhere ...

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