Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tokyo::Passion -- Interview with Jake Jelinek


Passion World Tour -- Tokyo Event

Among US college students Passion is influential, gathering large numbers of students for events featuring high production standards, quality worship music, and inspiring speakers. Passion is going international this year and will hold Passion::Tokyo on October 13, 2008 at C. C. Lemon Hall in Shibuya. The program plan includes worship leaders and speakers from England and the US.

Passion Home Page

Following is an interview I (Paul Nethercott) did with Passion::Tokyo coordinator Jake Jelinek. Jake, a lawyer in Indiana (USA), will make several short visits to Japan in his role as volunteer coordinator for the Tokyo event.

1. What is the purpose of Passion?

Passion seeks to gather college and university students across the nation and around the world to seek the face of God, asking Him to ignite in our souls a passionate pursuit of Jesus Christ and a desire to spread His fame to everyone on earth.

3. Why a world tour? Why Tokyo?

Passion is off on a crazy journey to the cities of the world in 2008, uniting university students around the globe in a story so much bigger than our own. We will be hosting tour events in 17 major cities around the globe. There are hundreds of thousands of university students in or near Tokyo…there was an indelible sense that God is moving in Tokyo today and Passion could be a part of that movement.

4. Do you have a philosophy of contextualization?

As we embark on this undertaking, we are seeking, in every way possible to speak into the specific culture of each of the cities at which we will host events. However, we also recognize the practical impossibility of significantly altering the program for each of the seventeen tour stops. While we recognize that there will be points of minutia where our style and process diverge from the local culture, we believe fully that the heartbeat of Passion::Tokyo transcends culture and that God will use the Passion World Tour to accentuate the unity of His message.

5. Is the "practical impossibility" primarily related to production issues?

While there are some production issues, our bigger concern is that there would be accountability concerns with utilizing local leaders and worship artists. That is certainly not to suggest that there are not leaders and artists who share our vision and who are trustworthy in each locale but we feel led to utilize the teachers and worship artists who have been integral in developing the Passion vision. We are trusting God to overcome the prospective cultural hurdles inherent in that decision.

6. How will you handle language issues?

Our plan is to utilize subtitles true to the spirit of the worship songs for the majority of the music. We may also integrate some element of music in the native tongue of the venue, Japanese in this case. Recognizing the significant language barrier, our production will rely heavily on imagery -- which transcends language in communicating the message of Jesus Christ and His grace and love.

7. In a nation where most people conceptualize Christianity as foreign, do you think that there is danger that your program could inadvertently reinforce that impression?

We are certainly aware of that danger and continue to prayerfully evaluate how to best avoid that outcome. We are making an effort to ensure that nationals staff our most visible volunteer positions, so that the leaders with whom students are interacting are not Westerners.

8. How do you see the event this fall strengthening the church in Japan?

We anticipate the church being strengthened as a wide cross-section of ministries from across denominational and theological lines unite and work together to make the event a success. Passion’s experience with its events in the United States has been that students leave the events and return to their campuses energized in their relationship with God and committed to reorienting their own lives around the pursuit of His name and renown in every aspect of their lives.

9. Who will be on the program?

We anticipate Louie Giglio and Francis Chan as the main speakers; Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, and Matt Redman as worship leaders.

10. What is "success" for this event?

It will be a success if God’s name and renown are made known to the hearts and lives of the students in attendance and those students are inspired and encouraged to live lives radically changed as a result of an encounter with Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

5 comments:

Scot Eaton said...

This interview is not encouraging to me. It sounds as if, by their use of subtitles and their lack of use of native talent, they are equating spiritual euphoria with worship. Spiritual euphoria is a good thing, but only in the right context. My impression is that they are expecting the "heart" to be conveyed, but are ignoring the fact that worship begins at the intersection of the heart and the mind. Reading their blog doesn't allay my fears at all. And there are far too many cases in the Bible where worship with all of the heart and none of the mind led to grave consequences (pun slightly intended).

I am sure that God can and still will work through this, but as a missionary and an ethnomusicologist with a heart for Japan, I can't help but think that this is exactly what Japan doesn't need right now.

If I were to draft a semi-academic letter to Passion headquarters, would anyone be interested in adding some comments?

José Gabriel Andrade said...

Hey Scott…
I agree with you concerning subtitles and foreign speakers and worshipers. Somehow “going international” seems to be confused with doing the same thing on foreign ground… But I really think this will be a great experience for the Passion team. (Especially I they are able to recognize the limitations of the actual event.) And hopefully they won’t be discouraged but they will be encouraged to work closely to local and experienced people in Japan.
I wonder if a worship event will be a great success concerning the small Christian population in Japan. (Maybe it will, hopefully it will).
But what do you think Japan needing now?
I was considering these kind events (Passion) but with an evangelistic perspective involving local churches. This way young Christians can be encouraged to invite their friends and share the Gospel. As a matter of fact, I believe that friendship is the best evangelistic strategy and the best discipleship. …
Anyway… Live is really beautiful and God is never wrong… Probably this is nice massage from God to missionaries in Japan. (If someone coming from the US does this, shouldn’t we organize the contextualized and Japanese oriented event someday.)

Take care…
Jose Gabriel

Shakti said...

This sounds like a modern form of evangelism mixed with a little rock. GOD is everywhere in everyone all the time! Much for interesting and needed would be putting this time and energy in a dialogue such as the Parliament of Religions. Does it really matter to who pray if we are all united under the same One. The phrase of "God in Tokyo today". Do you actually believe that God is not in Tokyo. God is in EVERY BEING that breathes! Our task is to simply become aware of it and discover this TRUTH.
Irene

Shakti said...

This sounds like a modern form of evangelism mixed with a little rock. GOD is everywhere in everyone all the time! Much for interesting and needed would be putting this time and energy in a dialogue such as the Parliament of Religions. Does it really matter to who pray if we are all united under the same One? The phrase of "God in Tokyo today". Do you actually believe that God is not in Tokyo? God is in EVERY BEING that breathes! Our task is to simply become aware of it and discover this TRUTH.
Irene

Scot Eaton said...

Irene (Shakti),

The Parliament of Religions seems like an interesting idea, though I wonder about its effectiveness in Japan. Japan never went through anything analogous to the Great Enlightenment, so appeals to logic work much differently in this country than they do in Western nations. That's not to say that the Japanese are stupid and superstitious, but it does mean that their worldview is significantly different.

You asked, "Does it really matter to who pray if we are all united under the same One?" The short answer is "yes." Jesus made it very clear that He is "the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father (God) except through [him]." The long answer is much more complicated, as there is debate within Christianity about whether someone needs to consciously know the person of Jesus in order to be saved by Him, or whether throwing themselves on God's mercy is enough to be credited as righteousness, as it was in the Old Testament. But one thing that everyone agrees on is that "looking within" for God is not enough. It's true that God is in every creature that breathes. In "Christianese" we say that we are created in His image as a reflection of Him. The problem is that sin has clouded that image and reflection, to the point where we can no longer know God simply by knowing ourselves. It's like trying to discover the taste of fresh orange juice by drinking Tang. Sure, there is orange juice (or orange flavoring) in Tang, but that taste is clouded by all of the rest of the stuff there, and one does not lead to the other.

That being said, I do agree that this money, energy, and time could have been applied to something much more productive than what Passion World Tour did. I didn't have a chance to attend, but the other author of this blog, Paul, did. We're all waiting for his post about it.