Publications
Praise the name of the Lord.

     JCFN's fiscal year ends in June, and the new fiscal year starts in July. For this transition, our monthly newsletter will change! Actually, we’ll cease sending a monthly newsletter, but will start posting news and articles on a brand new “JCFN blog” from July. Please check out the details about the blog at the bottom of this newsletter.

     For the June final monthly newsletter, we’ll share reports and testimonies from GRC18 (Global Returnees Conference) held in Japan in May.

 
[GRC18 Report]

"GRC18 Report"
Erika Grace Mine
GRC18 Director

 
     To my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ

     It has almost been 2 months since GRC18. I hope everybody is doing well. After GRC18, I have experienced a big relief, but when I remember all the goodness that God had given us during that time, it makes me want to go back! 

     There were many brothers and sisters from all over the world who prayed for this conference. All those prayers were answered and the conference ended with God’s abundant grace and blessings. I wish I could personally thank each person who prayed for us, but I would like to use this opportunity to say it now, THANK YOU!!

     At GRC18, we brought new things into the program. We added Hula Worship as one of our workshops, we asked the artists who glorify God through their own art and had an art gallery at the lobby, and we also had creative scripture readings before the plenary messages. These ideas come through my call and desire to worship God. I started feeling like God has called me to worship ministry once I got back to Japan three years ago. Therefore, I started going to graduate school to learn more about worship services. To take intensive classes, I go to Florida once a year. There, we have many worship services. One morning, a man read scripture without any script and with his heart. This is not a nice way to say it, but it was just a reading from scripture but I could not stop crying. I felt the living power of God through his scripture reading. That made me think that we should read the living word of God like it has life. That was the beginning of having the dream of doing a creative scripture reading. To start new ideas were not easy. There were many sacrifices and effort from other directors and creative volunteers. I really want to thank them for giving God the glory He deserves through their creative minds that God has given them. It was truly amazing and I was able to experience the living God through the living Word. Many people that came to GRC18 commented that they were blessed by it. I want to thank God for what He has shown us through this experience. 

     This year’s theme was “Dwell~ The Lord Will Live Among Us~” Directors and I prayed that everybody would know and experience that God does live among us every single day. Life of faith is not easy, but how much can we feel courage, peace, and love if we experience that He lives among us everyday? For me, this conference helped me to realize that I don’t have to carry a heavy burden when I DWELL with the Lord. 
 

Zechariah 2:10-11 (NIV)
10 “Shout and be glad, Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11“Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.

     When thinking, praying, planning, and using ample time for something, naturally, the mind starts envisioning and imagining. I believed God would be in control of this conference and thought that I should be like David when he killed Goliath; having 100% faith in his victory but still picking up five stones to prepare for battle. All I had to do is to have complete faith that God was in control of everything but I had to do my part in do everything I could to prepare. However, once the conference started, I realized that whenever something did not go the way I envisioned, I started to feel worried. Through conversations with the JCFN staff and prayer, I realized that I was holding onto this conference and was not letting it go for God to be in control. When I realized that, I went to God, asked God to change my heart, and rededicated this conference to Him. After the prayer I felt a big burden was off my shoulders and peace that is hard to describe engulfed me. If I was able to give it all up to God from the beginning, I did not have to go through these worries, but I think it was His grace that allowed me to experience how it feels like to DWELL in Him and allow Him to be in control of my life once again.

     Even though each person has a very different life, I truly believe that God has spoken to us individually at the conference. GRC18 was full of His blessing, but I do not want everyone to finish with “Yeah, GRC18 was great” because I believe the important part comes after the conference. I continue to pray for all of you. I pray that you will know and experience that God DWELLS with everyone of us and that when we live in His love, we can be His Kingdom ambassadors. I am encouraged by the GRC attendee facebook page. I am so happy! I would love to continue to see people encouraging and praying for one another in their ministry and celebrating together about all that God is doing that is new! There may be many people that you did not get the chance to talk to at the conference, but we are still none the less family of God. SO please do encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ through commenting and liking their posts. I know by experience that the small act of love encourages others!

     Thank you for those who have sent us your testimonies from GRC18. I have been blessed by them. Thank you so much!! Our God DWELLS among us! AMEN!! Although our next GRC is in three years, let us be connected continually! 

     Again, thank you for joining us at GRC18. Thank you for those who prayed for our conference. Please continue to pray for JCFN, returnees, and those who are still on the journey to meet God overseas.

     I pray to see everybody again soon!

All glory to God,

GRC18 Director
Erika Grace Mine

 
[GRC18 Testimony]

“Rediscovering My Calling”
Akana Nakamura

     I was saved during a short-term study abroad in Canada and returned home about two years ago. God spoke to me this year in January, and since April I’m going to seminary while working full time.

     Even though I sought God’s guidance before applying to seminary, studying while also working was far more difficult than I imagined. I would lose track of time and my walk before the Lord began to wane. Meanwhile, I began having doubts about whether or not I was hasty in going to seminary, about whether or not I mistook the desires God gave me, and about the future. I was very troubled, and I came to the GRC meeting place, imploring God that if that calling was really of Him, please speak to me again here at GRC.

     God answered my prayer during the general meeting at night on the second day.

     The desire I got from God before going to seminary was like this.

     The Gospel of Luke depicts Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. When He saw Jerusalem, Jesus wept and lamented. Afterwards, He cleansed the temple. The “temple” mentioned here is the human heart. When I read this passage, Jesus entered my wreck of a heart that was devastated by sin and hurt. He began teaching me and rebuilt my heart. Because of this, I wanted to help God rebuild and heal the hearts of the broken.

     During the message on the second night, there was a slideshow with before-and-after pictures of ruined church buildings that were abandoned during construction. The instant I saw the pictures, I immediately felt like God was visually showing me what He previously showed me in the Gospel of Luke. I got goosebumps and started crying. God spoke to me directly, as if saying “this is what I want you to do.” That day, Rev. Shibusawa’s message was about how God’s word doesn’t fade. That day, I was fully convinced that the calling and desire I received from God to heal and rebuild others with His unfading word was not a mistake.

     Everyone, not just non-believers, has in their hearts rooms that are ruined, rooms that are decaying, and rooms that are closed shut. I regained the desire to do the work of fixing the broken rooms of broken people through the truth of God’s word.

     Also, even though I still have such crumbled rooms inside me, through the fellowship during the small group time, I was able to take the first step in surrendering to God the places inside me that I wanted to give up to God. Through this, I felt God’s love and was greatly blessed through the small group.

     I still don’t know exactly what kind of ministry I can do in the future, but I pray that I will never forget the calling that God showed me here at GRC.

[GRC18 Testimony]

“Attending GRC18”
Ayaka Omine

    I attended GRC18 this year because my older sister persuaded me to do so.  In my childhood, I lived in Canada, but I do not remember much about my time there,  and I was not saved there. When I became a college student, I left my hometown, and my sister invited me to a church located in the neighborhood. I attended the church just because my sister and her husband came to pick me up at my house. I was drowsy during the service because the explanations of the Bible were difficult for me to understand and I was so tired from my daily life. Hence, I did not want to spend the Golden Week holidays attending the conference.

     I at first intended to decline my sister’s invitation to GRC because it would be expensive, but I decided to attend since my parents and sister convinced me by saying that I might be able to get a scholarship. “Let’s go together. It will be a good opportunity for you. Just go!”

     So I attended the conference, and was very impressed by the fellowship with faithful Christians of my generation. I had a really wonderful time through all the activities of sharing, worshiping, listening to messages, and repentance. I will never forget the freshness in my heart I experienced at night of the third day. I was filled with the sense that my sins were forgiven and God’s love flew over to me. It was the first time for me to have that kind of experience.

     Since GRC, I am receiving God’s words every day by listening to and singing the worship songs I sang in the conference. Even now, a while after the conference, I am still be able to appreciate God, pray, and rejoice every day because of God’s love that I received at the conference!

     I purchased a Bible of the newest Japanese translation at the conference, and I will be serving in the church by reading Bible verses! Thank you Lord!! I am willing to pray for staying together with God! I very much appreciate for this wonderful conference!! Thank you so much!!

 
From Monthly Newsletter to BLOG!
 
As it is announced at the beginning of this newsletter, we’ll cease sending a monthly newsletter, but will start posting news and articles on a brand new “JCFN blog” from July. Thank you for reading our newsletter, and from July please enjoy our news and articles at JCFN Blog page. Also, we are hoping to send out event announcement e-mail monthly.
If you have any requests on blog, please feel free to conact us!

↓↓ Click here for JCFN Blog ↓↓
(It hasn't been updated yet...)

JCFN Blog
 
Join in Annual JCFN Supporting Member
 
The term of this membership is from July to June no matter which month you submitted the application.
If you are already a supporting member, we will contact you for renewal shortly in July.
If you are willing to support JCFN ministry with annual support offering of $30 (3,000 yen), you are it!
Please take this opportunity to join in the annual supporting member!!

↓↓ Sign up for JCFN Supporting Membership!! ↓↓

Join in JCFN Supporting Membership!!!
 
Let's go to Urbana18!

End of this year, there will be Urbana, where JCFN was born.
(NO Equipper Conference this year.)

December 27 - 31, 2018
St. Louis, MO
host by InterVarsity

Registration with super early bird rate will end on June 30th.
If you are an international students, attend "Global Students Track."
If you have any questions regarding registration or Japanese translation, please contact JCFN.

www.urbana.org

 
 
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.

Praise the name of the Lord!

     Thank you all for prayers for GRC18: Global Returnees Conference. It was finished in blessings. We will share a report and testimonies later. For this month newsletter, we would like to share an article from EC returnee seminar and regional returnee ministries info; for this season, there are many students returning from North America.

 
[EC17 Returnee Seminar]

"Returning Home with Jesus"
Nobu Sakakibara
Orange County Christian Church Pastor

 
     It has been almost twenty years since I became a pastor in America. In that time, I have sent many people off to Japan. I want to send words of encouragement to those of you who are going home.

     First of all, let’s think about what kind of place the country of Japan is that you are going home to. I think that people who have experienced being away from Japan and have seen it from the outside will agree with what I’m saying.

     When looking out at the world, the first thing you will notice is that Japan is an island nation. Moreover, it was a closed country for many years; as a result, Japan is not a place that easily accepts things from the outside. The truth is, I think the same can be said about the church there. Churches say they want new people to come; they wish, pray, and hope for it. And they really are happy when new people come...but, in reality, they may not be as good at this as foreigners. People who are used to churches in America or other countries where people are quick to welcome you with a handshake or a hug might think Japanese churches feel a bit lonely. Even if you try your best to be open with people, you might find them to be kind of distant, or feel that you are not being welcomed. But that’s not true; that’s just the way Japan is.

     Additionally, if you go to a Japanese church and feel lost, it is because the worship style is very different. Of course there are churches that are open to returnees and foreigners, and some that go out of their way to make their churches feel welcoming. Even so, in most cases, the atmosphere is probably going to be very different, and you might feel lost.

     Let’s take clothing for example. For me, Hawaiian shirts are kind of my church uniform (lol), but you will almost never see pastors like that in Japan. And not just the pastors; the people that come to church dress formally too.

     You might also feel that the message style is different. For example, in America, in many cases the message is made to be easy to understand. Generally in Japan, you will see that the style is more like a theology lecture.

     The worship is different too. While churches in America and other countries have bands that play modern worship songs, in Japan it is still common to only sing hymns accompanied by an organ.

     At the first church I pastored in Japan, when there was a special worship song during the service, no one would ever clap. Even if there was a great performance by a soloist, choir, or violinist, there was never any clapping. This is because of the idea that all glory should only go to God. Are there churches like that in America? At least in the churches that I have pastored at or been invited to as a guest, I have never seen that custom. Of course all the glory is still God’s, but these people naturally express their joy in worship outwardly.

     I gave several concrete examples of differences, but the point isn’t about which one is good or bad. It’s only necessary to remember the reality that they are just different.

     But please think about it. If you had never left Japan and had instead belonged to a Japanese church first, you would never have thought this way. In other words, yes, you have already changed! Up until this point, I have written about the differences between churches in Japan and overseas, but next I will discuss how you yourself have changed.

     You can say that countries like North America, Korea, or South America are Christian countries. In America, the president places his hand on the Bible and makes his oath during his inauguration. There are lots of Christian book stores, and even regular stores sell Christian goods. But there is nothing like this in Japan. It’s different to the extent that you don’t know where churches are, and you rarely even meet other Christians.

     In addition to this change in surroundings, you need to understand how you yourself have changed. If you first started going to church abroad, why did you go for the first time? There might not be a lot of people who first started going because they were seeking Jesus. The reasons might be things like feeling tired of the foreign culture and way of life; wanting to speak Japanese; being able to eat Japanese food for free; being able to make Japanese friends; and so on. But if you go back to Japan, you don’t really need those things anymore, right?

     Just as I have written until now, as you experience the differences in Japanese and foreign churches and changes in your environment and in yourself, you might feel lost  in your faith after returning to Japan. And so the last thing I want to say is: even after going home, let’s connect to churches!

     It is said that the Christian population in Japan is less than once percent. In the midst of that reality, the people of Japanese churches persevere in their faith. Isn’t that amazing! Even in an environment where most people are not Christians, Japanese churches are living on in the life of Christ. That is because there is a passion of faith that you won’t find in Christian countries. Reading the Bible desperately, praying passionately, guarding their faith, and sharing the Gospel with all they have: this is the Japanese church. And so please, I want you to keep your eyes on that. I wish from my heart for you to learn and grow from the Japanese church.

     Japan is changing. There are a lot of Christian characters in Japanese NHK period dramas and other TV shows. Hifumi Kato has sung hymns on variety shows, and a Johnny’s Entertainment pop celebrity confidently declared that he is a Christian.

     Things like that haven’t happened before. Japanese Christians are desperately protecting their faith, and are becoming bolder in declaring it. You are going back to that Japan. Through Jesus, you are being sent to Japan! What’s waiting for you when you return? There is no reason to worry, because Jesus is with you. Yes, you are going back to Japan with Jesus!!

“The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” John 8:29

 
 
[Regional Returnee Ministries info]

Regional Returnee Ministries
(1) Name of the ministry
(2) Contact info
(3) Introduction
(4) Upcoming events

***

[TOHOKU]
(1) Returnees In Michinoku (RIM)
(2) E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/134953776520306/
(3) Our goal is to connect with and encourage all those that are returning to Tohoku. We plan occasional gatherings and events. Every year during the 3-day weekend in October, we host a 3-day 2-night camp. All are welcome to come!
(4) For the time being, we’re thinking of having a gathering soon in Miyagi or Fukushima. We’ll post more details to our FB page (RIM) real soon.


***

[TOKYO]
(1) GiFT (Growing in Fellowship Tokyo)
(2) Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Facebook Page: GiFT
(3) Once every 2 months, we host an event in a church or OCC in the city. Here, returnees can get connected and bear much fruit!
(4) 7/28 Summer Celebration @OCC Reception starts at 12:30 Event ends at 16:00
    9/15 Event Focusing on Sharing @TBD
    11/10 Hiking Fellowship @TBD
    1/19 Seminar and Sharing@TBD
    3/16 TBD

***
[CHIBA]
(1)Re-Chiba
(2)Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/488613087984344
(3)We’re aiming for fellowship not only for Chiba returnees, but fellowship that non-believers and local people can join as well. Main points: Lunch, testimony/message, SG, fellowship time.
(4)Haven’t decided yet…!

***

[TOKAI]
(1) Inspireuion
(2) E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/6255271490/
(3) We gather every month on the 2nd Saturday at 14:00 at Kanayama Christ Church. Here, local pastors encourage returnees, and there is time for Bible study and small groups. If needed, we can introduce you to local churches.
(4) 6/9(Sat)14:00~ @Kanayama Christ Church Guest:Finland missionary Takumi Kato
    7/21(Sat) Trip to Hamamatsu with BBQ (Details TBD)

***

[KANSAI]
(1) ANRK
(2) E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anrkansai/
(3) Every month on the 3rd or 4rth Saturday, we gather around Umeda (Osaka) and sing worship, listen to a message, and have small groups.
(4) We have a simple gathering on June 23rd. Details are on our FB page. Also, please contact the email above if you’d like to receive ANRK event info from the mailing list.

 
 
Let's go to Urbana18!

End of this year, there will be Urbana, where JCFN was born.
(NO Equipper Conference this year.)

December 27 - 31, 2018
St. Louis, MO
host by InterVarsity

Registration with super early bird rate will end on June 30th.
If you are an international students, attend "Global Students Track."
If you have any questions regarding registration or Japanese translation, please contact JCFN.

www.urbana.org

 
 
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.

 
Join in Annual JCFN Supporting Member
 
The term of this membership is from July to June no matter which month you submitted the application.
If you are already a supporting member, we will contact you for renewal in June.
If you are willing to support JCFN ministry with annual support offering of $30 (3,000 yen), you are it!
Please take this opportunity to join in the annual supporting member!!

↓↓ Sign up for JCFN Supporting Membership!! ↓↓

Join in JCFN Supporting Membership!!!

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