Newsletter (Equipper)

We praise the Lord’s holy name and hope this letter finds you well. In Japan, the new fiscal year has begun, Golden Week is over, and life is gradually starting to calm down. On the other hand, in North America May is graduation season, and it’s time for summer vacation and going home. This summer, as usual, there are many people planning to return to Japan.

This month marks one year until Global Returnees Conference (GRC) 18, which will be held next year during Golden Week. Therefore, this month we will hear from two pastors who will serve at GRC18, Pastor Kenichi Shibusawa and Pastor Aogu Tateyama, about Japanese missions and returnees in Oceania and England, respectively. Also, for the next three months, we will be sending out information that will be helpful for returnees. This month, we have “Homework for visiting home” and “Introducing Southern Kanto Small Groups.” We hope these resources will be helpful for you.

The State of Japanese Missions in Christchurch, New Zealand

Kenichi Shibusawa
Pastor of Christchurch JCF, New Zealand


Hello everyone. My name is Kenichi Shibusawa (Shibuken for short), and I am doing missions with Japanese in Christchurch, a town of 300,000 on a southern island of New Zealand. I am a pastor together with my wife Ayako, and I am blessed with three wonderful children: my oldest son, Motoi; my oldest daughter, Hikari; and my younger son, Takara. Motoi married a “kiwi girl,” Deborah, two and a half years ago. Hikari graduated from nursing school at the end of last year and is now working as a nurse. Takara, our only child living in Japan, just started attending Bible college in Kansai this April.


Missions in Christchurch

The Japanese who live in Christchurch are a bit different from those in other parts of the world. There are few businessmen; most are the Japanese wives of New Zealander men, young people on working holidays, and language school students. Especially since the Canterbury Earthquake six years ago, as a result of aggressively recruiting exchange students for financial reasons, there has been a sharp increase in high school foreign exchange students, and according to some research, Japanese students make up the highest number of foreign exchange students in Christchurch high schools. You do in fact see students who appear to be Japanese at bust tops and malls as you walk around town.

Therefore, we naturally began focusing our ministry on young people who will be here short term, as well as mothers of small children. Every Tuesday morning we hold a program called “Mainly Music,” where about 15 mothers come with their children. After exercising to music for a bit, the children read and listen to picture books while the mothers hear a simple Bible message. And every Tuesday evening, we work together with a local church to have a dinner outreach gathering in English, where about 50 young people gather. Through this program, we have seen several people meet Christ every year and go back to Japan on fire for God.

The young people who come to Christchurch are seeking to improve their English, and so we have free English conversation classes. We focus on those who are going to language school but don’t have the opportunity to have normal conversations in English, and so, every Thursday after school, we have an event called “Speaking in English surrounded by tea and snacks,” where about 20 young people come to our church. We ask young New Zealander Christians we know to be the conversation partners, and this good teamwork allows us to do this event. Also, twice a year we have an “Alpha Course” after the English conversation classes, which is a 10-week introductory course to Christianity where dinner is served. We usually have seven or eight participants. Thanks to these various ministries, in the nine years since we moved here, we have seen about 60 people be baptized.

Message to Returnees

I am always thinking about this, but it is not really very important where we live or what we do on earth. What is important is the state of our hearts. New Zealand has a much lower population than Japan, and it is an agricultural country. The citizens are laid-back, and always have time and flexibility to lend other people a hand. Of course I think that Japanese people are just as kind, but they are busy and the pace of life is so fast, and they have a wealth of material possessions that kills the flexibility in people’s hearts. This is a terrible shame. Since you went so far as to live abroad, and you are returning to Japan as somewhat unusual Japanese, don’t let yourself re-adapt to mundane Japanese customs. Instead, maintain a slower pace of life as you keep your eyes on Jesus. Pay attention to the needs of others, and be available to serve God and the people around you.

Concerning Evangelism to the Japanese in London, England
Aogu Tateyama (ECCJ Japanese Church Pastor)

The number of Japanese people living overseas, including Europe, continues to grow. England has the most Japanese people out of all European countries (4th in the world), and London, where I live, is the 6th most populous city in the world for the Japanese. Since it is an English-speaking country, there are many exchange students and researchers, and also many who come to stay because there are over 1,000 branch offices of Japanese corporations in London.

This is about when I was called to the Japanese of London in January of 2007. It was while I was studying abroad at a seminary in England, and I interned for a month at a Japanese church in California. At the time, it was said that there were about 50,000 Japanese people in London but only one Japanese church. However, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, there were dozens of Japanese churches for about 100,000 Japanese residents, and there was even a Japanese church for an area that only had 1,000 Japanese people. Of course, there is a deep history before reaching that point, but as a seminary student accustomed to the limited availability in Europe, I was shocked at the number of churches and opportunities available for Japanese people to hear the gospel in Japanese. At the same time, God had been building up a desire for me to evangelize to the Japanese in London. After returning from my internship in California, my wife Chisato and I began preparing for our calling to Japanese ministry in London, and we continue to serve 10 years later today. Currently there are three churches that hold services in Japanese every week (JCF London, London RJC, ECCJ), and there have been an increase in local churches that have a heart for the Japanese. I believe the circumstances concerning evangelism to the Japanese have changed a fair amount compared to 10 years ago.

London has also changed since I first came to England 14 years ago. Currently there are over 500 Japanese restaurants, and ingredients for simple Japanese dishes can be found in local supermarkets. Information regarding Japan is easily and quickly obtained, and longing for the Japanese language and cravings for the food have disappeared. Additionally, since the number of Japanese residents are on the rise, there is a countless variety of Japanese groups or lessons held in Japanese available, and they are easily found by accessing community sites on the internet. Therefore, gone is the time that people begin attending church for reasons like “there are many Japanese people here,” “they speak Japanese,” or “they have Japanese food.” Of course we as a church think of ways to deliver the gospel to people in such a day and age. I don’t dislike creating many possibilities for outreach and testing them out in order to match with the current needs. Thanks to these church efforts, ways to preach the gospel have taken on many different forms. However, we must not forget what’s most important: the message to be delivered has not changed one bit. Simply put, this unchanging message alone is what draws people’s hearts to to Jesus. As a church living in the 21st century, service style, programs, appearance, and atmosphere may certainly be important as well. However, no matter how time flows, nothing can add, subtract, dilute, or mix anything into the gospel of Jesus Christ--it is the very core of the church that is truth, the only “Good News” that gives life, that was and will forevermore be preached.

More Japanese residents overseas means more returnees. One of those returnees may be you, the one reading this. Please do not forget. God’s love for you will never change: regardless of where we are in the world, the message the church continues to convey has not changed one bit. No matter the time or location we live in, our mission is simple: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) God, who is alive today, will work in your life and continue to convey His unchanging message through you to Japan.


Home Assignment

For those who are planning to return to Japan for good soon, visiting home is a valuable opportunity. When you are getting ready to go back to Japan, use your time to research and think about what kinds of churches are in the area where you will live and how you might be able to grow in your faith there. Also, if you happen to have friends who will be visiting home, recommend that they do this homework as well.
For English, click HERE.  For Japanese, click HERE.
Introducing Southern Kanto Small Groups

Shinjuku SG: Thursday 19:30~ @Saint Marc Cafe in Shinjuku Island
Shinjuku Krispy SG: Tuesday 19:15~ @The 3rd Burger 
Shibuya Mark City SG: Monday 19:00~ @Cafe in Shibuya Mark City
Mitaka SG:The 1st and 3rd Friday 18:30~ @Bamiyan Mitaka Station South Entrance
Kamata SG:Thursday 19:45~ @Vie De France (in train station)
Shibuya SG:Monday 19:45~ @Krispy Cream Donuts in Shibuya
Kichijoji SG:Thursday 19:30~ @Doutor Coffee Kichijoji Motomachi Street
Hibarigaoka Fellowship:The 3rd Saturday 15:00~ @Okayasu's House in Hibarigaoka 
Member Wanted!!
Shonan SG:Tsujido Terrace Mall Shonan

Interested? Please contact to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The 15th Anniversary Central Conference is coming soon!
Date: May 27th (Sat) - May 29th (Mon) 
Place: Judson University, IL
Speaker: Rev. Satoru Nakanishi (Pastor of Japanese Presbyterian Church of Seattle)
Click here for the detail information.

Central Conference 2017 Promotion Video
Returnee Workbook for business people and family

The long-awaited new version of the returnee handbook for business people is here! In addition to information about how to prepare for reverse culture shock, it has information about working in Japanese companies, issues relating to returnee kids, child rearing, Japanese churches, etc. We hope that it will be useful for you to prepare to be witnesses for Christ in Japan. Orders and questions can be directed to the JCFN offices in North America or Japan.  
Japan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  North America: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 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!!!
Second Level Mentorship Conference
 "Walking Together as Imitators of God and Children of Light"

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8)

Date:June 2nd - 4th, 2017
Place:Calvin Center 13550, Woolsey Road Hampton, GA 30228
Speaker:Rev. Ken Milhous

For more information Click HERE.