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24 March 2024

Seeing the true meaning of Easter in Japan 


CMS missionaries Adam and Helane Ramsay serve in Japan, where they partner with a local church to grow disciples of Jesus. Here, Helane shares how their church is providing opportunities for people to uncover who Jesus is through their Easter outreach events. 

This article is part one of our Easter series. Part two will be posted on 26 March. Part three will be posted on 28 March. Part four will be posted on 30 March.  

Disney’s influence over Easter 

Easter is very visible throughout Japan, particularly in the retail industry. International food stores sell chocolate rabbits, eggs, chickens, and sheep, and dollar-stores sell garlands and plastic eggs. It seems that many seasonal celebrations seem to have been introduced through Tokyo Disneyland’s influence! 

While Easter celebrations in Japan are largely dominated by consumerism, there are many believers who faithfully gather to remember and celebrate the true meaning of Easter each year. 

Gospel opportunities through Easter events 

At our church, there is a special Good Friday service in the evening after everyone has finished work and school. At this service, people are prayed over individually and receive communion. Our church also holds outreach events for kids, where the story of the resurrection is often depicted through a puppet play or drama.  

 

A few years ago, our kids featured in a play depicting Mary and the disciples discovering Christ’s empty tomb (which I had made from chicken wire, painted grey paper and a giant beachball). Our friend, who we invited to the play, was puzzled by the tomb. He asked Adam, “Who rolled the stone away so that Jesus could come out?” Adam did his best, and then brought the Pastor in on the conversation to give a more comprehensive answer. I was glad I’d made the effort to build the tomb because it had given rise to great questions! 

 

Coming to know Jesus at Easter

Many Japanese people don’t know that Easter is a celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. One year, we invited a friend who had been to a Christmas event toanother Easter event at our church. At this event, she suddenly realised that both Christmas and Easter celebrate the same person–and was so excited!  

This year, our church has been showing a video series of Matthew’s Gospel for church members and their friends over several evenings in between Christmas and Easter. We’re hoping to fill in the picture of who Jesus is through these video showings, so that he can be known and celebrated even more deeply this Easter. Please pray with us that many will put their trust in Jesus. 

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Pray that God would be at work through outreach events in Japanese churches this Easter. Pray that, like Adam and Helane’s friends, many will see the true meaning of Easter.