Evangelical groups to hold 1 million hours of prayer during Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO (BP) – Several evangelical organizations, both internationally and in the United States, are teaming up to cover Japan with one million hours of prayer during the 30 days of the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“Japan1Million,” a movement started by a partnership between the Japan International Sports Partnership and the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association, encourages Christians around the world to register for hour-long prayer slots during the Tokyo games.
Those who sign up for time slots will be invited to receive email updates with specific ways to pray, daily updates from organizations, and invitations to Zoom prayer meetings throughout the games. A variety of resources are available on the website, including a prayer plan for Japan on the YouVersion Bible app, available in Japanese and English.
The opening ceremony for the Olympics is Friday (July 23).
Japan’s international sports partnership director Keishi Ikeda said in a press release that the Olympics represent a unique opportunity to achieve the goals of the organization’s ministry.
“Our sports partnership is driven by a vision to see the Church in Japan reach 10 million people by 2024,” said Ikeda.
“By working towards this vision, we hoped to reach a million Japanese in our year of Olympic outreach. COVID closed those doors, but one door remained open; the door of prayer. Committed prayer is necessary for a meaningful spiritual breakthrough in Japan. We believe in the words of Alfred Tennyson: “More things are accomplished through prayer than this world dreams of. “
The two Japanese organizations have partnered with other evangelical organizations, including other sports-related ministries.
Will Thompson is the Director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Japan.
He told Baptist Press that the organizations have been planning to minister during the games in Japan since the country’s announcement as the host nation in 2013.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a change in their plans, but Thompson said they realized God had a plan from the start.
“Our initial disappointment with the ministry during the Olympics has become exciting again over the past few weeks with the formation of this prayer initiative,” said Thompson.
Myself and many other thought, ‘God, you knew this plan from the start, was the purpose of the Olympics in Japan really to mobilize the world church through this prayer initiative? We resonated with the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho because they only had one option to defeat the enemy, and it could be similar to what is happening in Japan.
Thompson grew up in Japan and normally resides there, but is currently in the United States due to the pandemic. He attends Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, and said he works closely with the International Mission Board as one of the national organizations involved in the prayer initiative.
He said the original plan was for the FCA to partner with IMB missionaries serving in Japan to send outreach teams to the ministry during the games, but pandemic restrictions did not allow it. Now that prayer is the only option for ministry in many cases, Thompson said this season could serve as a homecoming approach and a way for the world church to come together.
“We live in a crazy time with so many divisions in our world,” he said, “and unfortunately we see it a lot in the church. In Scripture, Jesus prays for unity and that we are one and sends us to make disciples. One of the ways we can come together is through prayer because we all believe in it. Based on the scriptures and history, when we pray, this is how God moves and revivals happen, and we believe this is the time in Japan that the world church should pray for. “
Timothy Cockes is an editor for Baptist Press.