Posted on June 6th, 2014 No comments
I am sure that most of you are aware by now that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics. However, what you may not know is that interest has been increasing in “Sports Ministries” in Japan over the last few years. It is not always easy though for Japanese pastors to see how their churches can be involved in sports ministry. Last month at a meeting of a growing network of Sports Ministries I learned why there has not been a strong interest and resulting movement among the local churches. If someone suggested to a local pastor that the church needed a sports ministry, the Pastor’s first reaction would be, “Sports?” The matches are always held on Sundays. Why would I need a sports ministry?”
This meeting then was very encouraging as it was hosted in a large Japanese church (Hongo Dai Church) and was attended by several Pastors from Kanto and one even from Osaka. Churches from this group are already targeting Brazil for the World Cup Soccer Games on now and also an Expo Unity World cup being held in India in December. It was very encouraging to hear all that they were already doing and planning to do.
It seems that I will have something valuable to share with this group from my planned trip to UK to talk with the leader who organized the London Olympics for YWAM.
The meeting went over lunch and continued into the afternoon. There was a lot of good sharing and interaction over the meal as well as in the more formal times of sharing. In the dining room I was surprised to meet an old friend from TBC who is now on staff at Hongo Dai Church. I am looking forward to meeting him and others again at our next meeting after I return from Europe.
Posted on March 1st, 2014 No comments
JEMA, Japan Evangelical Missions Association, has been in existence for around 50 years now, seeking to link together and serve the Evangelical Missions movement here in Japan. YWAM has been a member for several many years now. I served on the communications committee for several seasons in my younger years. This committee is responsible to produce the quarterly JEMA Harvest Magazine that has useful information for the missionary community. If you would be interested in receiving theses magazines, please let me know and I will give you the needed information to subscribe.
Every year JEMA has its annual meeting where we all get together to hear reports from the year’s activities and vote on budgets, committee members, and other related annual business. This year I attended the annual Plenary meeting along with Sandy Gibbard from our national office who was our official voting member. I want to share with you some of the information that was reported this year..
One group we get to hear from is JEA. (Japan Evangelical Association) This is an association of Evangelical Churches here in Japan. Their representative informed us of the continuing work in the Tohoku area where the tsunami caused such damage three years ago. This report was especially about the work in the area of Fukushima which had the problems with the nuclear reactor. It seems that the farms are now growing their crops again but there is some reluctance on the part of mothers with young children to eat these products. The older folks do not seem to handle well that their children or especially their grandchildren are not eating their produce and this is forming deep division among the families. This is an aspect of the recovery they are now working with.
A different picture came from the group CAN (Christian Artist Network) When I was on the publishing committee the CAN group was just forming and they wanted to link together musicians and artists who were working here in Japan. I still remember the meeting where Paul Nethercott came and shared his heart and vision with us.
Ken has faithfully pursued his vision over the years and at this year’s plenary was able to introduce the new film he is working on: “2 Criminals”. One of the characters that the film is about attended the session and gave his testimony. I always appreciate an opportunity to hear testimony of what God is doing in the nation of Japan. This film is a work in progress and is scheduled to be released next year 2015.
As you can see from the flyer there is much prayer work and even finances needed to see this project completed. If you would like to help in any way please either contact CAN with the information on the flyer or let me know and I will help you to connect. There is a web page for the film: 2criminalsmovie.com
Finally, we had reports from CPI (Church Planting Institute) and CIS (Church Information Services) These two groups are always communicating the latest information about churches, members and relevant information concerning the state of the church here in Japan. Unfortunately, the information they had to present still shows a GREAT need for more workers, more evangelism and more church planting in Japan.
I don’t know if you can see the details in this picture from the CPI presentation but it shows the latest information available for the churches of Japan. The first point is that the population of Japan is 127,000,000. The second point tell us that that less than 280,000 people are in church on a given Sunday, which means that less than 0.22% are in church every Sunday.
The CIS presenter gave us a printout of their statistics which show both good and bad news for the nation. First the good news. In a twenty year period the number of churches has grown by 927. The membership has increased in the same period by 33,143. The sad thing in comparing the CPI report with the CIS report is that, while there are 546,052 members listed, only 280,00 actually attend church each Sunday. Finally, while there are 7,928 churches listed there were only 7,546 baptisms reported for the same year. That is less that one baptism per church!
Obviously there is a GREAT need for more to be done. I wish there was much more good news to share but this is the reality we live with here in the nation of Japan. Every missionary I know here longs for a great movement among the Japanese to see millions come to know and experience the God who loves them so much.
Posted on November 20th, 2013 No comments
It was over twenty five years ago that my fiancee and I were sent to Noda City to participate in a church outreach. We were going to be staying at the same house and were given a tour of the facilities shortly after arrival. This tour of the facilities included a demonstration of their recently acquired paperless toilet. This wonder of modern technology came with two jets that sprayed various parts of your anatomy with warm water followed by an air dryer to complete the operation. The demonstration ended up spraying water right out of the bowl which had Rhonda as I remember in fits of laughter.
I mentioned that this was over twenty five years ago and this was a country town not the centre of Tokyo. Much progress has taken place since then, now it is possible when entering the closet for the light to come on immediately, the seat to lift up before you get there, then nice soft music with the sound of a stream trickling in the background playing all the time you are seated on the throne. Finally when the air has fully dried the bits that need to be dried and you rise up to dress the toilet flushes, the music fades and as you leave the room the lid closes and the light turns off. All without touching any buttons at all.
Wow! Just as I was marvelling at how far we have come and how wonderful this piece of household equipment was, knowing exactly when I came in, when I sat down and when I got up; I was reminded of the following words from a book I once read. “You have searched me Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise………”Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” Yikes! God has been way ahead of the game, we are just scratching the surface of who He is and what He can do.
Posted on October 18th, 2013 1 comment
After visiting the eastern Cape we returned to the Lee household and shared all about our adventure of the day. As we talked we learned that that there was also a “Central Point” of Hokkaido. A large stone erected in the grounds of an elementary school. As this was practically on the way back to the airport for us we decided to make the effort and go there as well! The trip there was very smooth and we were able to just walk into the school ground and pray. Having prayed the four points open to the presence and power of God we invited the blessing and presence from all four points to flow into the centre. Both Greg and I felt a sense of completeness when we had finished praying and we went to the nearest sushi store to celebrate followed by a relaxing hot bath at the onsen.
Our time in Hokkaido has been very fulfilling and gave us a great sense of hope for the future. Even though we will head back to Tokyo and “get on with life” we both know that this is the beginning of something significant for YWAM Japan, Hokkaido, the nation of Japan and the rest of the world as God unfolds the answers to the prayers we were led to pray of this amazing island.
We will continue to pray for this island and its people and for the Lee family as they continue to sow seeds and reap a harvest in Tokachi. The day we left we helped them move many futons from their house to the facility where they would be holding a youth camp. We learned that about 60 people attended and they witnessed some conversions during that time.
Posted on October 16th, 2013 4 comments
For this trip Greg felt we should be at the eastern cape in time for the sunrise. The bad news was this meant getting up at 01:00 and driving for over three hours to make it in time. The good news was that Samuel was able to come with us to worship and pray. The trip there proved fairly exciting as we actually saw about eight to ten foxes and maybe about twenty deer. Fortunately Greg has a lot of experience of driving in deer country and spotted a group of them about to jump into the road and warned me in time to be able to avoid hitting them! So thanks to Greg we made it safe and sound and just in time to set up before the sunrise.
There were a handful of other folks also at the cape to catch the sunrise but they did not seem too bothered by the three of us praying our hearts out just below them. The sunrise was perfect and enabled us to take many awesome pictures. Our heart today was especially for the indigenous Ainu people. It was seeing all those deer and foxes that caught our attention and focused us on the original inhabitants.
Right after we arrived at the cape the sun began to peek above the horizon. We cried our that just as we witnessed everything around us transformed by the light and warmth of the sun that we would see Hokkaido and Japan transformed by the power of love. I encouraged Samuel to speak out blessing over the island in Japanese and I stood beside him to encourage him and agree with everything he prayed. As our custom was at the end of the prayer we said “In Jesus name. YES!!!” and timed the YES with a high five. Greg caught that moment with the sun right behind us and our high five right in the middle of the sun.
I can’t explain what happened in my heart as I saw what had started out as a fun way to involve a fourteen year old boy in prayer those many years ago, turned into the nineteen year old young man with a passionate heart crying out to God for blessing on his island and crying out for the destiny of his people in the nation of Japan.
We left the cape and went just a little over to this impressive arch where Sam led us in singing in Japanese and we prayed a lot more too. We didn’t see any more deer on the return journey but were ale to stop at McDonalds in time for their breakfast.
Posted on October 14th, 2013 2 comments
I have know the Lee family for about six years now, so it was with great joy that we now headed to their house in Urahoro to prepare for our trip to the eastern cape. Abraham and Ayumi, along with their son Samuel have been an integral part of my of my pursuing the vision of seeing YWAM established in Hokkaido from the very beginning. Samuel and I bonded from our first meeting, He is a special friend to me and we always enjoy praying together. There are too many pictures of Samuel and me so I started a separate album on my Facebook homepage just called Samuel Lee.
On the road to their house we saw a family wrapping up bales of hay for the winter. Greg was so stuck by the image of the young boy sitting on the hay that he had us turn round and go back to take some pictures. It was a blessing to see this family working together to complete this task and seeing how much more trust and experience was given to this young lad just because he was working with his family. We also saw several different signs warning of deer but were rather disappointed not to see a single one ever since we had left Chitose.
Abraham is Korean and his wife Ayumi is from Hokkaido. If I have the story right they met in YWAM in Kona. They are currently reaching out in an area called Tokachi. Which Abraham explains means the victory of the cross. 十勝 They are involved at many levels of society and right after our visit they had a youth camp where several people committed their lives to Jesus. In our conversations Abraham explained how they had been building relationships for a long time now but felt that now was the time to share the gospel.
We were blessed to share at their open meeting on Sunday and were able to pray over the mother and son who attended. Samuel had been reaching out to this young man and in one of our Skype conversations we had prayed for him. So it was with great joy that Greg and I could pray over this young man and his mother.
Posted on October 13th, 2013 1 comment
The next day was the only day it rained just about all day. It took us most of that day just to drive to the northern cape and then on to our resintg place at Saru futtsu. I had previously made a reservation to stay in a cabin but as they closed at 17:00 and we did not arrive until 17:15 they had already closed shop and gone home, so we were left with no option but to find a room at the hotel next door. This turned out for the best though as the hotel came with a nice bed and the cabin only had a bunk bed without a mattress and the fee for the hotel included admission to their Onsen where the log cabin required an extra fee for the hot bath.
On the trip to the northern point and all around that part of the island we saw a huge investment in wind farms. However it was not uncommon to see only a partial use of the wind turbines. In a set of five only one or two were actually being used. Greg had a passage calling the north wind to blow and believes that the wind is a symbol of the prophetic ministry. Just like there were many fully equipped wind turbines in that area but they were somehow not connecting and doing what they were designed to do. We both felt thee were many in Hokkaido and Japan that needed to be all that they were designed to be. We had a powerful time of calling out what God could see in the hearts and lives of the people of Hokkaido.
We also saw a lot of Hawks Gliding in the wind. There were so many analogies and word pictures from the wind which incidentally was blowing quite strongly as we prayed at Soya Misaki. I wish Greg were here now to remind me me of some of the many things I am sure that I missed. On that day however, we prayed not only down at the cape but also up on the hill looking over the monument.
Posted on October 10th, 2013 No comments
Having returned to Hakodate by late afternoon we needed to fulfil another mandate of our trip which was to have fun! This necessitated a trip to the only Starbucks in town. Actualy the only Starbucks we had seen in all of Hokkaido so far. It was a fairly large building right next to the harbour and provided a great view from the balcony. Having enjoyed our coffee we then took the cable up to the top of Hakodate mountain which affords a spectacular view of the city as well as an awesome place to pray blessing over the island.
At Starbucks Greg shared a lot about his and his wife’s long term call to Hokkaido. Even before they met they had both individually known that they were to be working in this island.
The theme of the harvest had been a big part of our day today not only at Shirokamimisaki where we went to pray but also on top of the mountain. We were excited to see the different emphasis we had been directed to in our prayer journey at both of the points we had visited so far. This fuelled our growing excitement and anticipation for the remainder of our journey in Hokkaido.
Posted on October 10th, 2013 No comments
I’ll begin today with another view from the hotel window. This time it is a view of Hakodate city. Hakodate used to be the main city of Hokkaido until the capital was moved to Sapporo. Going to the southern point was probably the easiest day of our trip. The weather was great, the distance not too far and the roads were quiet. Even though our Navi told us we would not get there until 15:30, we safely arrived in the morning. On the drive drive down we passed some rice fields ready for harvest and the farmer was setting up to get to work. This turned out to be the theme for our prayers today. We especially prayed the words of Jesus. “The fields are ripe for harvest. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the fields” We prayed for the harvest – many many Japanese people to respond to the love of God and we called out for many more workers to come to Hokkaido.
Unlike the western point you can drive right to the place where the marker is for the southern point, it was low tide so Greg and I went down to the beach and spent time praying there. We had the place to ourselves for over 30 minutes which gave us lots of freedom to proclaim the love of God for this island of Hokkaido. We could clearly see the northern part of Honshu – which is the island that we live on. – We snapped several pictures but we are both beginning to feel that the warm jackets we brought were a bit too much for the weather today.
As we finished early we decided to try out a local Onsen on the way back to Hakodate and also ate lunch in front of a a museum dedicated to men from Hokkaido who had made the top ranks of Sumo. When we arrived at the Onsen Greg – very wisely – made a point of covering up his I-Pad before leaving the car. When I tried to follow suit I realized I had left my I-Pad on top to the monument in order tot ake a picture behind the marker right next to the monument. Having taken the picture I got back into the car and left the I-Pad right there for about 50 minutes. Some times I am so happy that I am living in Japan, the I-pad was right there just where I had left it. The Onsen was so much more enjoyable knowing my trusty I-Pad was still safe.
Posted on October 7th, 2013 No comments
Today started with this nice view from our hotel window. This view is looking out over Sapporo city and shows the great weather that was there to greet us to begin our first prayer adventure. As it was an Onsen hotel I was very happy to begin the day with a natural hot spring bath followed by the continental breakfast which was included with the room rental. Greg and I had bread, juice and coffee to prepare us for our trip. We were very happy with our rental car especially as it had a navi built in, which proved very helpful in getting us to the places we needed to go. The interesting thing was that it even though we rented the car in Hokkaido, it was calculating the time of our journey as though we were driving in Tokyo. Allowing only 30 Kilometres per hour. At first it was a bit scary as it seemed we needed way more time than we had to get to where we wanted to go. Shortly after 10:00 we stopped at a convenience store and I was able to call the airport in Tokyo and confirm that my phone had been found and handed in to the lost property department. I arranged for them to send the phone to my house and we were back on the road. After leaving Sapporo on our first prayer adventure, we stopped along the way at “The mushroom kingdom” Hokkaido is in some ways the garden of Japan. It is highly agricultural producing large quantities of milk and vegetables. all the products seemed bigger, nicer and were cheaper than those we usually buy in Tokyo.
Our plan was to go to the four capes at the cardinal points of the island of Hokkaido and speak out blessing over the island and anything else that we felt impressed to pray. Through praying friends we already had some words of blessing to speak out. The key word we both felt for the western point was “Light” The western cape is the most inaccessible of the four points. We did not actually reach the exact point as the coast is very rugged and there is no footpath leading to the point. However, we did get as close as possible in the time we had.
As you can see when we arrived there the weather was very overcast and cloudy. We had already scouted the area by Google maps and realised that making the exact western point was probably beyond our physical abilities and therefore not desirable if we wanted to survive and make it to the other three capes. We walked through a disused tunnel and then clambered over many rocks to obtain our goal.
As we prayed we really focused on the light of the Gospel coming to the island and we spoke that out, almost instantly the clouds cleared up and the sun shone through. Maybe it was just a coincidence but the timing of it gave both Greg and I an excitement and assurance that we were partnering with God in something very significant for both Hokkaido and the nation of Japan.
Our trusty Navi guided us safely to our hotel in Hokadate where I had been visiting earlier this year to help purchase the Pacific Hope for Marine Reach in New Zealand. We went out to diner with Mathew Philbrick, a missionary working in Hakodate whom I had got to know earlier this year. We ate a local, very popular dish of lamb. Mission Accomplished – feeling great.