Newsletter (Equipper)

Annual Report 2017 #1

     Hallelujah! We praise the name of the Lord.

     For October monthly newsletter, we'd like to share our Annual Report 2017 in two. This is the first half. You can also download the PDF version of the report by clicking Here.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

“JCFN ministry is the most interesting!,”
even if I say so myself. But there are those of us to whom this is true, as this unique ministry has such potential and I get excited just thinking about it!
After 25 years of ministry, the path of JCFN may be slow in some people’s eyes. Also, it might not seem like the fruit of this ministry is impacting Japanese society in a positive way, or contributing to the growth of the Christian population in Japan. Even so, I’m excited, it’s because God is showing me something new at this 25 year mark. In other words, I wouldn’t realize these things if JCFN hadn’t been around for 25 years.

People generally think JCFN exists to connect returnees, especially those who become Christians outside of Japan, to local churches in Japan when they return. Of course, it’s important for them to get connected to churches and this is a byproduct of our ministry.  However, our purpose isn’t to increase church attendance. If all we’re doing is referring church information to returnees, then, Google can do a better job!

JCFN’s mission statement is “to equip multi-Japanese Christians for ministry (world mission).”  JCFN is a ministry which serves “returnees” with cross-culture experiences, especially those who’ve become Christians outside of Japan, to listen and obey God’s calling for them, to build up community of God’s family (church), to raise up leaders who can raise disciples of Christ, and to continue to transform to be more like Christ. This ministry can’t be accomplished by JCFN alone. In order for returnees to be equipped for this, we need partnerships with Japanese and non-Japanese churches in Japan and overseas, Japanese and non-Japanese Christians, international student ministries, etc. We need churches and believers in Japan and outside of Japan.

However, recently, as we reflect upon how we’ve followed up returnees all these years, maybe our follow up ministries were incomplete. We were too quick to release the returnees before we established a deep enough partnership to follow up with sending church and receiving church. Did we do a good enough job of follow up so that they are ready for ministry together with sending and receiving churches?

JCFN uses the statistic that 70-80% of Christian returnees will leave from the fellowship of Christians within 2-3 years if there’s no follow up.  What is happening to the remaining 20-30% who decide to stay? I’m sure there are many reasons, yet, I think we can summarize it as the “Second Surrender.” The “First Surrender” occurs when they accept the fact that they are a sinner and receive Jesus as the Lord and Savior.  However, in order for them to continue to walk as a believer, they need the “Second Surrender.”  This could be any conflict that they find themselves in. When they realize their path and God’s leading are different, they decide to choose God’s way. They surrender their own desires and wants to trust and accept God’s guidance and obey Him. This decision is called the “Second Surrender.” This experience indeed deepens their relationship with the Lord and makes their faith more concrete.

Even if you want to, in order to prepare returnees, you can’t manufacture these experiences. However, when they face these conflicts, you can prepare them to have a trust relationship with mentors whom they can honestly disclose their difficulties and ask for prayer. You can prepare them to have a trusting community that would support them no matter what. Then they can overcome the conflicts and experience the “Second Surrender.” In order for all returnees to have access to mentors, small groups, and accountability partners, JCFN needs to work harder to teach such needs and also to recruit these people who can walk with them in the time of difficulties, before, during, and after such conflicts.

Currently, JCFN is directly following up 100-150 returnees, including those who move from Japan to overseas and some seekers. We minister with approximately 700 people each year who are involved in WIT Leadership Camp and equipper conference (ec) in US and BBWIT Leadership Camp and Global Returnees Conference (GRC).  In other words, if JCFN ministers to 800 returnees so that all of them grow as Christ’s disciples, obey God’s calling, and be involved in world mission, the result is that their families will be saved.  Their church, workplace, and community will be filled with God’s love.  As a result, Japan would be changed. The world would be transformed.

That’s why, we need to think of practical ways to help returnees, so that they can know and obey God’s calling. With these goals in mind, we need to develop intentional partnerships with churches, ministries, and Christians. It has been important how we followed up returnees. We provided church info, connected them with believers in those churches, provided time and places where the returnees can connect with other returnees, and provided leadership training with WIT and BBWIT.  But now, we need to move forward and dig in deeper.
To have the “Second Surrender,” we need to strengthen our efforts in providing small groups and mentors.  We also need to develop ways to help returnees to find God’s callings in their life. We need to develop curriculum and seek partnership with those already doing such ministries.

But most of all, we need your help. We need your support. We need more staff, office staff, part-time staff, and associate staff!

Please pray for this ministry so that all 800 returnees will continue to obey God’s call.  Please pray for our financial needs.  Pray for more workers.

God will do this!

Setsu Shimizu
North America Director

Report from Japan
Chihiro Okada
JCFN’s goal for 2016 was “Help those who have taken root to grow.”  We were able to encourage and support the work of those in various locations within Japan who were on the receiving end for global returnees at GRC15 (Global Returnees Conference 2015). Also, with our new associate staff member based in Kansai, we began monthly meeting of ANRK (All Nations Returnees Kansai) since May. In addition, the bi- monthly meeting of GiFT (Growing in Fellowship Tokyo), ReChiba in Chiba every three months, and the monthly meeting of Inspire-Union (Shortened to ‘Inspa’) in Tokai are continuing to go strong.  Although meeting infrequently, RIT (Returnees in Tochigi), RIK (Returnees in Kanagawa) have continued to meet. Though not all regional meetings are directly un- der the umbrella of JCFN, we continue to network and encourage one another, praying that these returnees’ ministries continue in each location.

In order to encourage and equip these regional leaders, in July 2017, we held the second BBWIT (Bridge Builders’ Whatever It Takes) leadership camp.  (The 1st BBWIT took place in 2011.)  We recruited regional leaders to participate.  Woodlands Evangelical Free Church from Singapore sent a mission team to this camp, and we were able to learn from them about the importance of maintaining vision, as well as receiving mentoring and coaching.  Being able to see the leaders being encouraged, we’ve begun praying to continue to have BBWIT in the future.

In April, we started planning for Global Returnees Conference which is scheduled for May 2018. We are expectantly praying for the encouragement, strengthening, and expansion of the work of returnees at GRC18. The conference theme is, “DWELL ~The Lord lives with us~.” Like the 2015 conference, it will be held in Yamanashi prefecture on May 2-5, 2018. We pray that many will attend.

Regional meetings are not all we do to receive and welcome returnees.  We wanted to be active in welcoming returnees back to Japan, so we sent a team to the equipper conference 2016 which was held in the U.S.  Once again, we are planning to send a team to ec17.  We look forward to creating a natural flow from ec in the U.S. to GRC in Japan to follow up returnees.

Finally, this past year, we had some changes in personnel and office situation.  I (Chihiro) have modified to work part-time since I had my daughter in February.   We’ve added two new associate staff.  We’ll continue to work as a team of two staff, five associate staff, and one of office worker.

Prayer Requests
(1) Pray for GRC18’s preparation, and for its blessing.
(2) Pray for the encouragement and works of the regional meetings welcoming returnees.
(3) Pray for new staff and regional associate staff be added.

Report from North America
Setsu Shimizu

I think we have had some significant changes this year in North America.

First of all, I would like to make a report about Michigan Network. Five years ago, JCFN learned that there were several local churches reaching out to Japanese business families, especially young mothers and their children, by providing English, cooking, parenting, choir and other classes. In fact, one of those churches had more than 300 ladies come to these classes! JCFN was contacted because they needed support to follow up with those who would return to Japan. Since then, we have been working in partnership, seeking different possibilities, and developing a network between churches in Michigan and Toyota City. Three years ago, we had a few pastors from Toyota City visit Michigan, and this summer we had a 10-member summer short-term mission team visit Toyota City. Seven churches in Toyota City worked together to host returnees reunions and kids English day camps this summer. This would not be possible if it were done by one church. There was a report about this mission team on the front page of the September 3 issue of Christian Shinbun. (Christian Newspaper) This was a real moment in which JCFN was able to contribute as a networking ministry. The next step is to strengthen this partnership and to send missionaries to Toyota City, and also to support the ministries that have begun in Toyota City because of the kids English day camp.

Next, we have WIT leadership camp. This summer, we had yet another blessed WIT. It has been 11 years and we have trained 200 leaders. WIT “graduates” serve as the next WIT staff, and they also nominate the next WIT participants and JCFN invites them. In other words, WIT is a ministry where they can experience that they are indeed servant leaders no matter how inadequate they might feel about themselves. Not only do they use their newly found talents, but through serving they find other talents by leading. It is indeed a leadership training camp not just for participants, but also for the WIT staff, who are involved in preparation for more than six months. This is a very practical way to accomplish one of the 4Cs we value, Commission, by making disciples of Christ.

As we have informed you, Machiko Saito who served as an office staff for six years had completed her second term and left the ministry. We are so grateful to the Lord and to her who had faithfully served with us. Now, missing one of our office staff, we are carrying all she had done between administration part-timers and staff. It is our urgent prayer that God would send us administration/office staff.

As I reflect on this past year and preparing for ec which is just around the corner, I am excited about what God will do next!  On top of our current ministries, we are seeking new ministry opportunities to work together with international student ministries to support and empower Christian exchange students from Japan. We are also excited about the development of youth ministries as well.

Prayer Requests
(1) Please pray for development of follow up ministry.  We want to reevaluate what we can do to prepare returnees prior to their return to Japan.  Pray for God’s wisdom so that we can minister to returnees deeper and better.
(2) Please pray for workers who can carry out ministries together.  Pray for more staff to join our team, especially an office staff,
(3) Please pray for God’s guidance and blessings on Michigan Network and Youth Ministries that are recently developing.

2017 JCFN Board Meeting Report
Hiroaki Yonai, JCFN Board Chairman

To the supporters of JCFN,

With gratitude for your ongoing heartfelt support, I’d like to present our annual report.

  1. Board Meeting in Chicago
  2. Outlook for the future
  3. For the Directors and our ministries
  4. MembersBoard
1. Board Meeting in Chicago
We held our board meetings mostly in the LA area, near our office. This time, we gathered in Chicago to enjoy a time of fellowship and networking with our supporters from Japanese churches, as well as members of Japanese ministries in the Chicago area. Although not everyone was able to attend the meeting due to schedule conflicts, we’re grateful that our meeting took place in Chicago. We thank each of you who participated in our meeting.

2. Outlook for the future
Last year, we adopted a common theme of “Go further, Go deeper, Go wider” with an emphasis “To nurture ones who are rooted in their faith” in Japan and “To nurture ones who are returning to Japan” in North America. We aim for furthering evangelism, offering adequate assistance to those preparing to return to Japan, nurturing them, and developing leaders.

Our follow-up contacts haven’t shown much difference in numbers in recent years. In order to increase our follow-up contacts, it is crucial to cooperate with regional gatherings and churches where there people getting ready to return to Japan. Also, it’s our concern to nurture leaders who are able to follow up returnees  after their graduation. Please keep these in your prayers.

In North America, we’ll have ec (Equippers Conference) in December. In Japan, GRC (Global Returnees Conference) is scheduled during Golden Week in 2018. Using these conferences to our advantage, we hope increase follow-up opportunities, nurture leadership, develop good relationships with regional meetings and churches.
As part of our recruitment plan to identify and call future staff workers and board members, we are examining possibilities to hire interns or support teacher/minister (official appellation TBD), who don’t require a work visa.

3. Please consider your support to hire additional staff to expand our ministry.
Machiko Saito, who served many years as North America office staff, has stepped down after completing her term. Chihiro Okada, our Japan Director, is working part-time for a limited period after having her first child.  With our type of ministry, our target groups vary widely and our ministry is covering global regions.  Therefore, we’re always in need of new staff.

On the financial side, we introduced a supporting member system. Please refer to our website and other materials and consider joining us. We will be grateful if you also consider financial support for the staff workers at each regional gathering.
We are delighted to report that a church in Singapore has offered to financially support the work of our staff. Please continue to pray for our financial stability and for the recruitment of staff.

4. Board of Trustees

Hiroaki Yonai (Kokubunji Baptist Church, Pastor, Japan)

Douglas Whittet (OMF International, Missionary, North America)
Hidenori Takahashi (Tachikawa Evangelical Free Church, Pastor, Japan)
Sachi Nakamura ( Psychology, Translator, North America)
Manabu Nishikori (Japanese Christian Church of New Jersey, Pastor, North America)
Ryuichi Yamazaki (Ochanomizu Christian Center Board Member, Japan)
Rick Chuman (JEMS Director, North America)

Eliya Onoe (Ohara Graduate School of Accounting, Professor, Japan)

Yosuke Mikami (Yamaha Canada Music, Former President, North America)

equipper conference 17

Online Registration is available:
Click here to register!

Date: December 27, 2017 - January 1, 2018
Location: Murrieta Hot Springs Christian Conference Center
Theme: “Freedom”: Living the Freedom in Christ
Theme verse: 2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Speaker: Rev. Naoto Kamano, Rev. Shinji Seki, Rev. Yuichiro Inatomi

GRC18: Global Returnees Conference
May 2 - 5, 2018
@ Hotel Evergreen Fuji (Yamanashi)
Looking for a Japanese/English Translation Volunteer

Many of JCFN’s publications will be in bilingual format. Please, If you wish to improve your translation skill, or in the future prepare for a translation job, please contact JCFN. We have native speaker to check the translations, so don’t worry.

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Please take this opportunity to join in the annual supporting member!!

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