13 February, 2017

Independent Missionaries

I'm excited about the latest issue of Japan Harvest magazine that we've posted out today. It highlights a group of the missionary force in Japan that can be easily missed: independent missionaries.

Here's a sample of my editorial:
I love the cover. It is of one of our authors, who is an
independent missionary. Her husband works for a
company in Japan. I met her through OMF, they
have an informal connection with OMF called
"OMF Friends".What's even more exciting about the
cover is that I commissioned it from a professional
photographer, who happens to be a missionary and a
friend in the CAJ community. I'm hoping that this is
something we can continue to do.
During the process of getting this issue into print, I've communicated with several people who could be considered independent missionaries. I've discovered that it is a wide category ranging from tentmakers (people working full-time in secular jobs) to people working with a mission here without a supporting mission  from their passport country. In the middle are people who are supported from outside Japan and also work here part-time to supplement their support. There are also couples where one person is fully employed by a company (Japanese or otherwise) and the other is engaged in full- or part-time Christian work.
Independent missionaries make up more than 11% of the JEMA (Japan Evangelical Missionary Association), the association that publishes this magazine and represents about 900 of the Protestant, evangelical missionaries in Japan. It was fantastic to gather articles from these folk and hear their voices, which differ from the main-line missionary/mission voices. But also to consider how we, in traditional mission organisations, can reach out and help these independent missionaries better.

We also included a new "column" called Voice of Experience, it is by missionaries who've been in Japan more than 20 years, giving advice to those who've been here for less than that. It will be interesting to see how that pans out over time. It is not written by one person, but, like the New Voices "column" (by those who've been in Japan less than five years) the contributors are different (almost) every time.

Plus there is a member survey, seeking to find out more about our readers and what they'd like to see in future magazines. I'm looking forward to seeing how the results of that compare to the last time I oversaw a JH survey, five years ago.

Alas, as I've looked through it just now, somewhat briefly, I've already found two errors! An editor's nightmare, but occupational hazard. Maybe I'll stop looking at it now.

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