2013 JCFN Board Meeting Report
JCFN Ministry Report
JCFN Staff Update
Report from Japan
Report from North America
My Transformation from a Returnee Christian to a Japanese Christian
Bible Lesson from Tomikichi's Cartoon!
To everyone all over the world supporting JCFN,
We are sending the annual report of the board meeting with much gratitude for your prayers and support.
Our theme was "Correspondence and Approach to Circumstances of JCFN," and we dealt with the themes below:
1)JCFN after ANRC (All Nations Returnees Conference)
2)Cooperation and division in labor between Japan Office and US Office
3)Enhancement of personnel system
4)Enhancement of financial base
1) JCFN after ANRC
After holding the ANRC conference three times, we were reaffirmed with the circumstances that JCFN is put in, and what we should do. To briefly explain, the expectations held toward JCFN have gone beyond the frame between North America and Japan. Additionally, JCFN's target is no longer just Japanese returnees. We have been confirmed that the building of networks all over the world and (safety) network in Japan are imperative.
Returnees' networks in various regions in Japan will directly and indirectly affect the nation's future after the 3/11 tragedy in Japan. The number of returnees and the places they are active are expanding. Considering the situation, we will support for ANRC to be held by returnees' networks in each place (All Nations Returnees Connection) according to their necessity.
2) Cooperation and division in labor between Japan Office and US Office
With concerns listed above, we hope to coordinate tasks between the head office in the US and Japan to act and manage in regards to regional priorities. We confirmed it by our mission statement and goal. The accounting services in Japan and US will still be consolidated.
3) Enhancement of personnel system
To accomplish point number (2), we discussed the need to enhance human affairs and our financial base. Ms. Setsu Shimizu, by the support of your prayers, continues to be supported as a missionary with OMF. Ms. Chihiro Nakamura, interim international director, moved to Japan. During her two-year stay in Japan, we are planning to cooperate with churches and returnees' networks all over Japan. We are still in need of new staff - please pray for this matter. We are also planning to appoint board members according to our needs and the changes we expect in the future.
4) Enhancement of financial base (support request)
Staff do not always have solid financial supporters. We asked a consultant who works with OMF America for advice concerning this matter. Board members think that new staff members must build a financial support group by themselves.
We would like to ask you to continue to support us, because administrative cost (usual JCFN activities and routine work) is increasing as the ministry is expanding.
Thank you and may the Lord Jesus Christ bless each one of you reading this report.
Hiroaki Yonai (Pastor of Kokubunji Baptist Church)
Yosuke Mikami (Full-time Board)
Chihiro Nakamura (Interim International Director)
(Pastor of Seiseki Megumi Christ Church)
Masaru Aoki (DNJ)
(Pastor of Tachikawa Evangelical Free Church))
(Pastor of Japanese Christian Church of New Jersey)
(Doctor of Psychology & Translator)
(President of Carefree Clearwater Elections)
Doug Whittet (OMF Missionary)
Thank you very much for remembering JCFN ministry in your prayers and participating in the ministry in different ways.
During the fiscal year of 2012, we put our energy on preparation and administration for ANRC 12 (All Nations Returnees Conference) held in Kakegawa, Shizuoka in November. We saw faces of returnees from different countries encouraged and those who are involved in returnee ministries from all across Japan gather and be refreshed. That reminded JCFN of the importance of "returnee follow-up" ministry uniquely entrusted to JCFN. Also, ANRC12 allowed us to network with other ministries, which are valuable for returnees responding to God's calling.
At the Month of Prayer in 2012, we focused on Paul's heart of "sender" described in the Letter to Philemon. Thinking of Onesimus who is going back to where Philemon is, Paul writes that "I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you." (Philemon 12) Through Paul's heart, we can learn thoughts of those who send returnees back. The Father in heaven has same heart, and returnees are sent back to Japan with His heart and prayer. This past year, we as JCFN recognized, again, the privilege and responsibility of ministering to those special people with prayers that more people may join in this ministry. We appreciate to those who are following up returnees together with us.
From April 2013, we have two staff workers in Japan, and three staff workers in the States. In the fiscal year of 2013, JCFN is doing follow-up ministry with four associate staff members in the North America including Canada and three in Japan. JCFN is relating with returnees and those who are involved in following up returnees by focusing on "discovering and equipping co-workers" in the States and "strengthening relationship with co-workers" in Japan. Also, we have equipper conference, which was not held last year, in December 2013. Please pray that JCFN may respond to the heart of God in the fiscal year of 2013.
Interim International Director
I began serving as a Japan staff member this past April after having spent over 10 years in the US as a seminary student and then a full-time JCFN staff member. In the year preceding my move, 2012 was a year of transition from the States to Japan. Since my move back home, I now call myself a returnee. Currently, I visit different regional ministries and churches in Japan. I am hoping that I can visit, meet, and encourage other returnees with whom God leads me to. My prayer is that I will not be critical of myself, who is a transitioning returnee, and be senstive to God's calling.
1) For ministry in Japan: That I can visit where God sends me to.
2) For support raising.
3) That I will be kind to myself and sensitive to respond to God's calling.
Chihiro's Blog: http://chofu.ch/cbc/blog/missionary_chihiro/
In my mind, I had planned to be back in full-time ministry by the end of 2012. I find myself currently still working on partnership development. Since we have sent Chihiro to Japan, the US side's ministry responsibilities have increased. Despite the changes, God is guiding us and we enjoy it.
I feel that God is allowing 20 years of experiences of JCFN to bless us with new endeavors like developing the Michigan Japanese outreach network, discussions on global level of diaspora mission, and raising up youth as next generation leaders in North America.
I have had more opportunities to speak at different churches and camps and by doing so, am able to expand our JCFN network. As for my husband and I, we are enjoying our family fellowship and God is guiding us step by step. I appreciate my husband's support, and I also pray that God will help me to be a supportive wife.
1) Please pray for more financial and prayer support.
2) Please pray that we will follow God's guidance in ministry as a couple.
3) Please pray that I will be able to utilize my experiences for current and future ministries.
I continue to be involved with a local ministry like Mommy and Me targetting non-beliver moms. I have started a personal Bible study with new believers. A few other things I am involved with include mentoring students, helping publish a book, and working on a devotional guide for returnees. My husband and I have also begun to prepare for a Bible study group at our home. As I raise my children and do household chores, I try to do "what I can do when I can do them." My days are full but I have a joyful heart.
1) For balancing family and ministry life.
2) For me to be daily nurtured by the Word, prayer, and led by the Holy Spirit.
3) For the opportunity to meet seekers around Irvine city and to share the gospel with them.
Yuko's Blog: http://fffyuko.exblog.jp/
US Office Staff
Thank you for your prayer and your support. It has been two years since I started to work at JCFN. This year, I needed to decide whether to continue to work at JCFN or not. As I considered various possibilities for my life I was led to continue working at JCFN through God's word and friend's advice. I was led into a new stage in my personal life as well. Looking back on it all, I now see that every single experience was carefully orchestrated by the One. I hope I will continue to look for God who is here alwayshere, supporting me as I walk forward with faith to whatever lies ahead.
1) So that the relationship between God and I will be enriched and that I will be used as God's vessel to serve others.
2) So that I can faithfully serve God in the ministries He has put me in.
3) So that everyone will follow God, be transformed, and continue to build one another up so God's work will be expanded in Japan and in the world.
Most of 2012 was spent on ANRC preparation. Things settled down at the start of the new year. In April, Interim International Director, Chihiro Nakamura, moved to the Japan office, which was a relief in many ways. Though JCFN is in the midst of transition, I am hoping that JCFN's ministry in Japan will expand further, especially with another staff in Japan. I have been so blessed throughout last year. My eldest daughter, Miri, was recently baptized! Thank God for that!
1) Pray for my physical health.
2) Pray for my family that they will be healthy both physically and spiritually.
3) Pray for blessing over Japan's ministry that there will be more receivers for the returnees.
Canada Associate Staff
When Shozo and I visited Tohoku's disaster areas last November, we had a few opportunities to share our testimonies. In return, they shared with us their experience with the earthquake. At ANRC, we reunited with those that were saved through the ministry in Canda. We were encouraged to see that their faith had grown. On a personal note, I completed my thesis for Theological School in February 2013. I received confirmation that my thesis was accepted in May. I will go to Tokyo for two months for my internship at my home church before graduation. I thank God for leading me here. We are praying for revival in Japan and Japanese Canadian communities in Toronto. We would like to continue to pray that the Good News be spread to everyone in the world.
1) That many people will be led to Jesus Family.
2) For a spiritual gospel music leader
3) For our ministry to be used in the Japanese Canadian community in Toronto.
US Associate Staff
We spent 2012 getting ready for the upcoming equipper conference (ec13). Past committee members and other past ec participants gathered together in August to brainstorm about this 2013's conference. Those that came to the meeting turned out to become future ec leaders. Those same people have come together to form ec13's core committee members. Though there is no "executive director" this year, it is encouraging to see the next generation of leaders rise up so passionately. It is my pleasure to be able to serve as one of the ec advisors as a JCFN staff member.
1) For the preparation of ec13. Especially, for the communication between different committee members and JCFN staff.
2) For the local ministry that we are involved in, like preaching to young families.
3) To obey God's calling and instruction in different aspects of my life (family, work, study, and ministry)
US Associate Staff (San Diego, CA)
This past year, I experienced my first pregnancy and childbirth. Due to my pregnancy and childbirth, my involvement with the ministries changed. While my pregnancy, I could no longer help by cooking for the international student ministry (ICF), and had to call off the weekly Japanese Bible study meeting from time to time. After giving birth, my life changed even more. I had to completely take time off from the international student ministry and the weekly meeting with Japanese students (as of July 2013). I am still asking for God's guidance on how I should involve myself in ministry when my maternity leave ends in August. During this leave, I have learned to trust the Lord and humble myself to rely on other leaders on the team. I would like to thank all the ministry leaders for responding to God's calling. I believe that my personal relationship with the Lord has deepened through my pregnancy and childbirth. Thank you!
1) For guidance in ministry
2) For wisdom in building a Christian home.
3) For support raising.
US Associate Staff (MI)
A conference with local Japanese ministries was held in May. Ever since then, my role as a JCFN associate staff has widened considerably. I am grateful that God has filled all my needs and has given me, a small vessel, the privilege to watch Him work mightily. My main activity is to support Japanese ministries run by American staff members in the local churches. Furthermore, there will be more opportunities to serve, coming fall. My husband, Jason, has been blessed in the local Christian businessman fellowship. It has been a blessing for us to be able serve in Central Conference and Michigan Camp as a couple. Our older son will start pre-school this fall, and the younger son, who was born last year, turned one this summer. They are growing up to be healthy and happy boys.
1) For wisdom as I get involved with Japanese ministry in various organizations, so that I can support them in the best way.
2) To faithfully serve in each role in: Ministry, as a wife, and as a mother.
3) For me to be able to set aside time to be quiet before the Lord and receive what He has for me.
Japan Associate (admin)
I have adjusted to my workplace in Tokyo, and have become quite busy with my new part-time position at a different university. I am also working on my research on "Account at a Nonprofit Organization," with the KAKENHI grant from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). I hope that the result of this research will aid JCFN in some way. My wife, Yuka, is devleoping relationships with other mothers at the kindergarten, while she works to keep up with household chores and raising our children. Our son, Tsubasa, is now in his second year of kindergarten and acts as a big brother to the other kids. Older kids who played with him last year have graduated, but he now has new friends and is doing well.
1) That I can be where God wants me to be.
2) That I release the fragrance of Christ amongst my relationships with students and colleagues.
3) That God continually grant wisdom and time to improve our accounting system.
Japan Associate Staff (SG)
ANRC was held in 2012, where people connected with small groups (SG). At the 2012 countdown fellowship, over 70 brothers and sisters gathered together to kick off the new year. I was really blessed to be able to start the year with praise. In the Southern Kanto area, multiple gatherings like the Kanto Meeting, Returnee in Kanagawa (RIK), and Returnee in Saitama (RIS) provide a place for returnees to meet, encourage, and participate in fellowship. It is a great place for follow-ups and to create teamwork. At the Kanto Meeting, we have been attempting to transition the leadership to the next generation. This yet, remains a work-in-progress. As for SGs, we host a periodic meeting every three months to reconfirm the vision and train leaders. I feel that we have been able to share each group's vision. We have seen SG members through their transition of returning to their home country, finding a church, settling down, and comitting themselves to their churches. We have also seen others join new SGs. Different seasons have come and gone. As for myself, I have been able to have a fruitful quiet time and have been blessed spiritually as well. Thank you for all of your prayers.
1) To be able to have a fruitful quiet time every morning.
2) For the protection of my health, so that I can continue working in ministries.
3) For the nuturing of next generation leaders.
Japan Associate (admin)
1) For the process of handing over the KGK Secretary position.
2) For my son's recovering process.
3) For the adjustment to the new position in OCC, fullfilling my duty there.
Speaking of JCFN Japan ministry 2012, most of the activities were generated by ANRC12. Before ANRC12, we visited some regional returnee meetings to share the vision of ANRC12. In September, we had BBWIT leadership training camp in Nagoya to equip regional leaders who are involved in returnee follow-up in conjunction with visitations. In November, ANRC12 was held and it became a blessed time for regional leaders to meet in person, share what is happening, and pray for one another. Following the conference, actual returnee ministry has started in each region. April 2013, one staff worker was sent from US side, and we were able to finish the work alone system project that had been underway in Japan for past several years. We hope that we can visit different regions more often since we now have more staff here. In southern Kanto area, small group ministry is being continued, and there are 8 small groups at this point. At JCFN Japan office in Ochanomizu, we started open lunch hour called "JCFN de OCHA (tea) Lunch" to create comfortable space for returnees to drop by. We pray that we can continue the ministry focused on the heart of returnees.
(Reported by Nakamura)
Based on our goal in North America, "Empowering Co-workers," we are developing Michigan Network. There are many auto related industries with Japanese expats in Michigan and its neighboring states. There are local churches ministering to them by providing English, cooking, crafts and other classes led by volunteers. Some have 30, others have 300 non-Christian Japanese visiting their churches on weekly basis. We provide resources, trainings, and follow up, but more recent development is building up direct network between churches in Michigan and in Japan.
We also serve Japanese students and businessmen to encourage and train them through consulting ministries and the 7th WIT leadership training camp. It is our prayer that these leaders who will raise up leaders of the next generation in North America, will follow God's call even after they return to Japan.
It is our desire to minister and serve churches and individuals, so that returnees will hear the Gospel, receive it and live in the Gospel to share with others.
(Reported by Shimizu)
[Testimony of a Returnee Christian] Hiroko Higashi, who was the Japan Associate Director of the Tokai Area from 2006, terminated her career as an associate director in June of 2013. She had been the coordinator for INSPIREUNION (also known as "INSPA"), which had been a conference for returnees living in the Aichi, Gifu, and Mie prefectures of the Tokai area.
My Transformation from a Returnee Christian to a Japanese Christian
JCFN member, Hiroko Higashi
I was saved in New Zealand and it has been ten years since I returned to Japan. God gave me a life of joy and hope after I met Jesus. At my church in New Zealand, I had prepared to go back to Japan by studying the Bible and having a closer relationship with Jesus.
But when I returned to Japan, my family was strongly against my Christian faith and I wasn't able to attend church for a while. It was then that my brothers and sisters in Christ from New Zealand emailed and called me to pray and to encourage me.
My friend, who had returned to Japan before me, also gave me a call and helped me to go to church. I am grateful that the Lord had prepared a path for me to live with Jesus, even when I returned to Japan.
From that time, I started to think and pray about what I could do to help the Japanese who would be returning to Japan in the future. The Lord gave me a friend who had the same calling and we were able to start a gathering for returnees in the Tokai region. Many Japanese who returned to Japan were able to stay strong in their faith and were lead to a local church to be part of Christ's body (Luke 22:32). By meeting every month, we were able to talk about the differences of the culture overseas and in Japan, and were able to gradually accept our change.
God has helped me to grow by giving me the opportunity to be an associate staff at JCFN. Yet my growth came through many failures. There are three major failures which I experienced.
The first one was that I wanted to evangelize someone so badly that I didn't listen to his or her story. I learnt about the importance of being "slow to speak and quick to listen." Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear.
The second one was that I was not able to let go of my will and was afraid of not being able to do something well, or was afraid of how others would see me. The only one I should fear is the Lord, and God taught me to trust in Him and showed me that He was the one who will start my works and would lead me through the end.
The third was that I believed God would love me because of all the things I did to serve Him. I learned that God loves me and takes joy in me just as I am, not just because I was working hard for Him. I am thankful that I was able to have the opportunity to become closer to God and have personal fellowship with Him through my time as an associate staff.
I would like to thank my brothers and sisters for the many encouragements and prayers through this journey. Thank you so much. All thanks to God.