Hallelujah. Praise to the name of the Lord. As for May monthly newsletter, we would like to share the report from Setsu Shimizu's trip to Toronto, Canada and Japan Ministry Report about JCFN Kanto Regional Meeting and Tochigi visitation.
Blessings at Toronto
JCFN North America Staff
Japanese ministries are taking place around the world. However, each place is unique because of its history of Japanese missions, styles, situations, and others are all so different. It is same in Japan. Whether it is in the city or in the rural areas, people's needs and life styles are different, thus, mission strategies.
The situation is certainly different when you move from California, the south western part of the continent to Toronto, the north east part. There are a lot of working holiday, students, internationally married couples, and some expats and immigrants, but very few expats and their families.
Approximately 9,000 Japanese are registered in Toronto but it has declined 8% since last year and the long term residents had decreased 19%.
At the end of April, the 28th Northeast Nikkei Christian Conference was held and I served as a speaker as I did last year. Recently in order to make this conference more accessible, they have let go of the 26 years of tradition and changed location, dates, retreat styles. In order to meet the ever changing needs, it is necessary at times to let go of the tradition and allow new changes to come in.
It was such a blessing to hear from the Scripture together with 60 some Japanese speaking brothers and sisters in Christ. We have shared testimony and I was reminded again of the wonderful work of God even we live in different places.
CJM (Canadian Japanese Mission) (www.jcmin.com) is the foundation and center of Japanese mission in Canada, I believe. When you speak about CJM, Margaret Ridgeway, 27 years old at that time, must be mentioned.
In 1941, when the World War II had started, many of Japanese immigrants living in Vancouver were removed from their homes and sent to internment camps 450 miles away. Among them were children whom Margaret had taught at Sunday school. She received a calling from God when she read Haggai 1:8, "Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the Lord."
This is what she wrote about that moment.
"With a feeling of exultation and yet of solemnity I rose from my knees in the kitchen of our Vancouver home where I had been kneeling before my open Bible. God had spoken. I had no doubt now that He was calling me to leave my "ceiled house " - the security of my home, my church, and my familiar surroundings - and follow my Japanese friends who were deprived of their homes and their livelihoods and were being sent to makeshift quarters in the narrow valleys of the Kootenay and Slocan Rivers. I was to have a part in building God's house there, not a building made with hands, but one composed of living stones."
It has been more than 70 years since then, however the Lord whom Margaret had followed is alive today and He is leading Japanese mission not only in Toronto, but in Vancouver and all over Canada. Please visit CJM's homepage to learn more about Japanese churches needs and pray for them.
When I learn that faithfulness of one young woman had started Japanese ministries in Canada, I am encouraged and challenged at the same time.
Japan Ministry Report
JCFN Interim International Director
JCFN Kanto Regional Meeting
JCFN Kanto Regional Meeting was held at Yodobashi Church in Shinjuku on Saturday, April 26th. This meeting is organized and run by volunteers who have a heart for welcoming returnees especially in Tokyo area. It was called "Spring Celebration" and Rev. Tetsuo Kagiwada, who was visiting Japan from California gave the message. It was a great time of praise, worship, and sharing.
There were about 90 participants, and a number of people who attended equipper conference 2013 in California were there. It was a special collaborative event with the "Worship & Praise," an Itabashi interdenominational praise gathering. There was a prayer time for localities and local churches. It gave an opportunity to pray for returnees to connect with local churches and be part of the body of Christ.
Visit with Returnees in Tochigi
There are several grassroots regional returnee ministries called "RI[ ]"; for example, RIT, RIM, RIS, and RIK. These stand for "Returnees in [ ]"; thus, RIT - Returnees in Tochigi, RIM - Returnees in Michinoku (Tohoku), RIS - Returnees in Saitama, and RIK - Returnees in Kanagawa. The origin of "RI[ ]" is RIT, the returnee follow-up ministry in Tochigi. RIT began at a regional meeting held during the 1st All Nations Returnees Conference in 2009. Not only RIT, but also all the grassroots ministries have concerns on how to pass the baton to the next generation. They've had hard time finding new core members as people enter new life stages. Some of RIT core members attended RIM Camp held October last year with the hope that they might get some ideas. While sharing concerns during the RIM camp, it produced a plan to visit Tochigi on Saturday, May 17th.
As a result core members from RIM (Tohoku), RIS (Saitama), JCFN Kanto Regional Meeting (Tokyo) visited Tochigi. It wasn't that many people (10 people total), but it was a valuable time of praise, fellowship, sharing of regional ministry and prayer requests. Let's look to God who orchestrates all the networks for returnee ministries.
On June 9-11th, there will be JCFN annual board meeting in Michigan. Please pray that the meeting goes smoothly. Please also pray for each board member's travel from other states or Japan.