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Praise the name of the Lord!

     It is less than 2 months until GRC18: Global Returnees Conference held in Japan. For March monthly newsletter, we would like to share an expectation for the conference from Rev. Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom, one of the main speakers.
     Also we would like to share the workshop "Holy Discontent" held at EC17.

[Expectation for GRC18]

Our Identity Together with Christ: Expectations for GRC18
Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom
GRC18 Main Speaker

     Greetings, everyone! My name is Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom, and I will be leading the Bible exposition sessions at GRC18.

     The “Ransom” in my name is not my middle name, but is a part of my family name, “Yamazaki-Ransom.”My wife is American, and her maiden name is Ransom, so we combined our family names when we got married. We did so in the hope of creating a new culture in Christ by merging our Japanese and American cultures. Since then, both of us as well as our 3 children have been living out our new identity, that of belonging to the Yamazaki-Ransom family.

     Many of you who will participate in GRC have lived abroad. As returnees, you may have experienced many identity changes, even if you didn’t change your name. You acquired the identity of “foreigner” and “ethnic minority” overseas, and the identity of “returnee” after coming back to Japan… you are no longer the same old you before you went abroad.

     Above all, many of you experienced a huge change in your identity when you became a Christian while living abroad. You have been changed to know for the first time the God who created heaven and earth, and the love of Jesus Christ who died for you on the cross. You have been changed to live for Him. This is indeed a great, joyful change! You were no longer the same person when you came back to Japan. You were born again as children of God (John 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Pet. 1:3). While still living in the world, you now possess citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

     On the other hand, however, sometimes when you change your identity, you face hardships.

     When you are changed, your view of the world changes.  The way the world looks at you also changes. I became a Christian in Japan, but I nevertheless experienced various struggles during my 6-year stay in the U.S. I am also aware of the difficulties many returnee Christians face when they come back to Japan, such as the pressures from a non-Christian society and the sense of not fitting in at Japanese churches. Many of you who attend GRC may have experienced such problems.

     If those are your concerns, I urge you to turn your eyes to Jesus Christ.

     Jesus Christ, who was the very nature of God, humbled himself enough to become a human (Phil. 2:6-8). He thus acquired a new identity, one that combined heaven and earth, so to speak. But this world was not an easy place for him to live, because “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). Yet Jesus did not give up his incarnate identity; he lived it out to his death on the cross----for the sake of his love for us. Therefore, he is able to empathize with our suffering and pain.

     The theme of GRC18 is “Dwell: the Lord Lives among Us.” Jesus Christ does walk together with those of us who live in Japan. You can experience it through the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, through the preaching of God’s Word, and through the fellowship with your brothers and sisters in the family of God. It is my heart-prayer that GRC18 will be an opportunity for you to realize your true identity together with Christ.

Born in 1970 in Osaka and grew up in Kanagawa, Kazuhiko met Jesus and was baptized during his second year of college. He earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science from the University of Tokyo. He dedicated to full-time ministry as a doctoral student. He married his American wife in 1999. In 2000, he and his family moved to the United States and he studied at Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN), and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (suburbs of Chicago, IL). He earned his Ph.D through his study of the New Testament. After returning to Japan in 2006, he began teaching at Revival Biblical Seminary, and became its principal, as well as the chairman of Japan Evangelical Theological Society in the Chubu area. From April 2018, he becomes the Academic Dean of Covenant Seminary and an associate pastor of Tsurumi Covenant Church. He has written The Victory of the God of Peace (Praise Press), The Roman Empire in Luke’s Narrative (T&T Clark) and others. He updates his blog Through a Glass regularly. He ha three teenage daughters.
[EC17 Workshop]

Holy Discontent: Approaching the origin of vision
Makito Kawata

     “I don’t know what God’s will is.” “A lot of people around me say things like ‘It’s amazing to be used by God. So this is what it’s like to respond to God’s calling.’ But I have no idea what God’s calling me to.” “I have lots of hobbies and things I like to do, but I don’t know if that’s my calling from God.” “Because I don’t know, I can’t do anything.”

     All of us have had these kinds of worries from time to time, and I think a lot of people probably feel this way right now. At EC17, I led a workshop focused on this topic. I’d like to share just one part of that. It might not give anyone a definitive answer, but I hope it can be at least a little bit encouraging to those who have been saved by Jesus and want to give their newfound lives to the Lord.

     There are many methods of listening to God, but I’d like to talk about one called Holy Discontent. What does discontent have to do with your calling? Everyone has different discontent in their lives, but when it lines up with God’s will, it becomes holy discontent. In other words, when we look on this depraved world from God’s perspective and feel in our hearts, “Things can’t stay like this!”, “I can’t leave things this way!”, or “I can’t stand it anymore!”, that’s holy discontent.

     In the Old Testament, Nehemiah was someone whose holy discontent was used by God. The walls of his hometown Jerusalem had been broken down ever since the Babylonian captivity, and those who had escaped the captivity were in a very difficult situation. When Nehemiah heard about it, he became very sad (Nehemiah 1:3-4) and thought, “Things can’t stay this way!” It wasn’t just that, however; he admitted that this situation was the result of Israel’s sin (1:6-7), he remembered God’s words (1:8-9), knew that God was moving in his heart (2:12), and said that he should be the one to stand up and rebuild the walls (1:11). Nehemiah wanted God to bring success in rebuilding the walls in order to prove that the omniscient, omnipotent God of Israel was alive (2:20). The result was that God used Nehemiah mightily, and the walls that had been left broken down for the 140 years since the captivity were rebuilt in just 52 days (6:15). Furthermore, the surrounding nations who had been slandering the Jews were afraid, and they knew that this work had been done through God (6:16).

     It’s cool, right? I kind of wish I could end by saying, “Let’s respond to God’s calling just like Nehemiah did,” but we worry because it’s difficult to do so, because we don’t have confidence in what God’s will is, and because we’re afraid of failing. Because of this, I’d like to end by sharing something Pastor Katsuhiko Seino talked about in his workshop on world missions at EC05. In answer to the question, “What should I do if I make a mistake about God’s will?”, this is how he answered.

     “What should you do if you make a mistake about God’s will? Hm… What’s important is your motives, right? If you look carefully at your motives and they are that you sincerely want serve God and go out into the mission field, then you don’t need to worry about wondering what God’s will is. God is a dynamic God! As long as you have a heart that truly wants to please Him, then He can use you.” [1]

     God has created each of us uniquely. I think that God has given each of us holy discontent that only we can respond to because we are all different in how we grew up, where we are now, our hobbies, our abilities, and our personalities. Once you recognize that discontent, as long as you desire to serve the Lord through it, I believe that God is saying that as you pray and rely on Him, you can boldly step out in faith.

[1]Translation from

* Audio of this workshop is available at the website (Japanese only).

GRC18: Global Returnees Conference
May 2 - 5, 2018

@ Hotel Evergreen Fuji (Yamanashi)
Theme: Dwell ~The Lord will live among us~
Theme verse: Zechariah 2:10-11
“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,”declares the Lord. “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.
Main Speakers: Rev. Kenichi Shibusawa, Rev. Aogu Tateyama, Rev. Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom

Online Registration
Click HERE
* Registration ends on April 6.*

GRC18 Special Program, "C-link Meeting"

"C-link (Creative Link) Meeting" will be held on the first day of GRC18 before the main program starts. It was born from ministers networking meeting held at GRC15. It aims to learn from case studies on returnee ministry, and discuss and pray for further opportunities for missions together.

Time: Tuesday May 2nd 2-6pm
Location: GRC18 conference site, Hotel Evergreen Fuji
Target: ministers, those who are involved in returnee ministry, and those who are interested in missions
Purpose: To seek opportunities for mission partnership based of returnee ministry
Fee: Free
Registration: Link (Different registration from GRC18)

May 28 - 30, 2018
@ Judson University, IL
Theme: Crazy Peace ~Living In The Peace of God~
Theme verse: Philippians 4:4-7
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Main Speakers: Rev. Tetsuo Ben Kagiwada

Online Registration
Click HERE
* Early bird registration ends on April 16.*

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