Newsletter (Equipper)
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!!!