27 March, 2010

Going to the Bank

Today I have a guest post by one of OMF's church planters in Japan, Lorna Ferguson:
Today David went to the bank. No big deal, you may think. But going to a bank in Japan usually involves a lot of queuing, a lot of form-filling and a lot of waiting. The other day David had to go to the local city office to make some minor changes to personal documents - and it's the same story there. The wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly. Interestingly, for a land where everything is hi-tech and mobile phones can peform almost any function, there is still an affinity with doing things the old way - forms, paper, photocopying, double checking by the person sitting at the next desk. At banks the ATM machines can do all sorts of things at the push of a few (actually sometimes quite a lot) of buttons. But if you need to do something the ATM can't do, then you need to battle with the forms and the waiting. The staff though are always very cheery and helpful. Maybe there is a parable in there somewhere. The Japanese love to embrace gadgets and technology. Yet there is also still a holding on to the old-fashioned ways. Tradition matters here. There is a rich and complex culture. The surface looks modern and hi-tech - and it is. But beneath that veneer of gadgetry, the traditional way of doing things, and doing and saying and thinking things in the right way is highly valued. We need patience and grace and a teachable spirit to understand the culture and the people and then be able to share the good news of Jesus in appropriate ways.

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