Tuesday, September 02, 2008


In the comments to Paul's post on iMissions, I left a comment about webcam Bible Studies. My motivation is this: a lot of Japanese young people move to the cities in their 20's for college and jobs, and they encounter Christ there. However, when they move back to the countryside, they become spiritually isolated, living in an area where there either is no church, or the church is completely different from what they experienced in the city. In some extreme cases, they move back into a family system that is hostile to Christianity, and their parents actively prevent them from going to church. They become Spiritually Isolated Christians, and where they could be a light to their community, they instead drift into survival mode.

I have lived through this first-hand, and right now I personally know no less than 4 friends who are going through spiritual isolation right now (3 American, 1 Japanese). In addition, I know 2 Japanese men from my church who are separated from their local congregation (and families) 5 out of 7 days a week because of jobs that require them to work and live in a different prefecture. And for all 6 of these people, I see the strain that it causes. The fact is that God never meant for us to live the Christian life alone, and yet in this age of fast-paced travel and rapid relocations, that is exactly what is happening.

However, this age has also equipped us with new tools to deal with the faster pace. Namely, the Internet. It is now possible to hold conference calls with 10 people in 10 countries for no charge at all. Some programs even allow video to go along with this.

So, my vision is simple: set up a network of Bible studies that spiritually isolated Japanese Christians can plug into for mutual support and encouragement. It can also be a great help to city churches, as the flow of ideas in city churches tends to be five times faster than their rural counterparts. It can connect urban Japanese with the countryside so that they have a greater understanding of how much impact their new ideas are having on the greater whole.

Now, the reason for this post: I am starting this idea with myself. Though I attend a wonderful church in Fukushima prefecture, my level of Japanese doesn't currently allow me to hold any conversations of real depth. I also have a friend and fellow missionary living in another country who is about as spiritually isolated as one can get. So, starting in 3 days I will be doing a test-run of my "iDiscipleship" International Internet Bible Study, hopefully working out some of the glitches and bugs that will inevitably come up. The Bible Study will run for a period of 13 weeks, and at the end, I will post about my experiences here. Please pray for me and my friends as we try this out with one another.

Also, if you are interested in being involved as a Bible Study facilitator, or you know someone who might be, please leave a comment below. Thanks.


Matt said...

Scot, this seems like a good idea, given the situation you described. I might be interested in popping to see one of these sessions, but I couldn't take on a class now, as we are preparing to come to Japan.

angel said...

hi paul and nancy, i've been following your blog and with you in what you are doing through media and the arts. i'm travelling a similar journey... what an exciting and fulfilling time.

Paul Nethercott said...

Hi Angel! Good to hear from you.

What you write on your blog about your earthly father, and your heavenly father, is awesome.

How are things in Singapore?

Hope to see you again sometime!

angel said...

Did I get the dates correct? Is it Nancy's birthday? Blessed birthday.

Paul Nethercott said...

It IS Nancy's birthday, on September 8 we will celebrate her life!

Nancy and I met at Bethel in MN in, lets see... it must have been early 1978. I have learned much from her, she has enriched my life and a great deal of what I write on this blog grows out of things we talk about.

About two years ago Nancy completed a Doctorate in Worship Studies at the Institute for Worship Studies in Florida. It has benefited me a lot too!