In Japan, less than 1% of the people are Christians, so Christmas is an imported holiday devoid of spiritual meaning.
And Kentucky Fried Chicken has cornered the market on tradition: for many Japanese, Christmas Eve meal is fried chicken, potato wedges and cornbread, all from KFC.
"Japanese have adopted Christmas because it is a fun, happy holiday," says Steve Clark, a staff member who served with Cru in Japan. "Because they are interested in Christmas, it is a key evangelism time."
To help Japanese understand the true meaning of Christmas, Japan Cru created the Real Christmas CD-ROM. Since 2003, Japan has distributed 850,000 Christmas outreach CDs.
As part of a month long outreach, Cru hopes to distribute 150,000 CDs this year, in churches and to friends. Approximately 200 churches in Japan and teams from the JESUS film, Campus Ministry, Hong Kong and Singapore will help with distribution.
"These volunteers from overseas have sacrificed their vacation time to come to Japan," says Kazu Kurihara, who leads Japan Cru.
The disc passed out during the outreach includes:
- The JESUS film
- Christmas songs
- Music videos
- 2 video messages from Coach Hillman, Japan's Baseball team director. He won the Pacific League and is famous in Japan.
- A Japanese singer's story about becoming a Christian
- A link to a web site with information about evangelistic Christmas parties in Japan.
- A link to a Japanese evangelistic Web site, Power for Living. In the first couple of weeks, 3 people already indicated a decision to begin a relationship with God through the site this year.
- A Quiz with the chance to win an iPod or Jesus film DVD.
"Many Japanese, especially the younger generation, are hurting," says Mieko Takano, a housewife and church leader. "Those who were given the CDs felt special.
Mieko mailed the disc in Christmas cards to several friends, giving her opportunities for deeper conversations about the true meaning of the holiday. Some even asked to go to church with her.
This will be the 5th year Cru has distributed the Christmas CDs. It isn't fried chicken, but God is establishing a new tradition.