Posted on June 19th, 2015 No comments
Today began with a very unexpected but very welcome online call from Aiko our daughter in Norway. She originally called just to tell us she loved us but ended up talking for about half an hour of the exciting challenges that are happening for her over there.
Rhonda was in her first week of Teaching English as an Acquired Language at CAJ, so she headed out a little earlier than me to fulfill her responsibilities. I took my time and left for the station where I bought my first coffee for the day at Tulley’s. They sure know how to make it look pretty.
My first port of call was at the Ochanomizu Christian Centre. On the 5th floor are the offices of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They are working towards a big event in November of this year. My contact there, Steven is responsible for the youth focused events and he shared with me about the exciting things they are working on leading up to the crusade. It was also blessing to re-connect with long term friend David Matsumoto who just recently joined the BGEA team here in Tokyo. David and I have been friends for many years now and worked together in several different situation including the Tsunami relief work in Tohoku. I am glad he is back in Japan again.
Business taken care of Steven and I head of to lunch next door. Every time we meet we always end by praying for each other. This kind of sharing and mutual encouragement with folks from different groups is such a blessing and privilege to participate in. Steven also shared about an exciting new app they are working on that hope to be able to share more about at a later date.
Next stop is Ikebukuro where I meet with Il Han, a Korean member of YWAM serving with his family. We meet at Excelsior which is another coffee chain here in Tokyo. The coffee here is not as exciting looking as that sold at Tully’s. Il Han has to visit Korea again but he is concerned as there has been some serious illness over there. It is great to listen to him share about his work with local church pastors in his area and the growth and development of his three children.
JP Corhern joins me at Excelsior as we have to head to Daikanyama to meet with Takeshi the associate pastor with Tokyo Baptist Church. Fortunately there is a Starbucks coffee shop between Daikanyama station and the church, so we take the opportunity to get a coffee each and one for Takeshi too. Tokyo Baptist Church has recently completed a legal process that we will be facing soon, so we were able to ask lots of very important questions while drinking our coffee.
Tasks completed it is now time to head home for a nice quiet diner.
Posted on March 12th, 2015 No comments
Every morning at the retreat centre the day begins with a flag raising ceremony followed by group excercise time. All members staying at the centre are required to participate. On the first day the temperature was minus 5, but today was a bit warmer.
We had to move to the gym today as another group was using our usual room. This meant it was a much bigger space and several folks took advantage of this extra space to dance during the worship.
After the Worship we moved back into two big circles and John Dawson revealed more of how we could move in family style leadership.
As elders we are not to lord it arbitrarily over others. God relates to us through coventents and He has given us covenants to help us relating to others. God promised to bring the nation of Israel into the promised land. however a whole generation disqualified themselves from receiving the blessing of this covenant but God always fulfils His covenants. A future generation did enter the land. When Loren received the vision of waves crashing into the shore and the waves becoming waves of young people. That was our first direction and easy to understand covenant. After that we received the Christian Magna Carta,The Manilla covent, the Nanning covenent. Any YWAMer Has authority to act and do anything written in the Christian Magna Carta. We can not say NO to anyone who comes with this kind of authority. We must rather enter into a convesation and adopt them and their vision. Love them, pray for them and try to see what Jesus is seeing in them. We must respect Jesus in them. Obedience will sometimes happen with the favour of the church and sometimes needs to be done with out tis favour.
YWAM’s anointing is an apostolic anointing. This does not mean mighty strong leaders but Pioneering. As elders we are to build bridges so others can pioneer. Deacons meet to administer property and land, while elders meet to cover the community. There can be many legal groups under a circle of elders when the elders come together in covenent then ministry can be birthed. Just as there is a covenent in marriage before children are born. If ministry is birthed outside of covenent it becomes an orphan ministry. These children need to be born into a family of freedom not a family of restriction. This will combat the restriction in Japan of everyone coming into one family. We need many autonomous families.
There was a lot more than I have noted but I am rather tired so will end my notes here.
Posted on March 11th, 2015 No comments
This photo is the common meeting area where everyone can get Wi-Fi. It was here that I met Ryosuke last year. He came up and introduced himself. Ryosuke was part of a new drat of employees at his company and they were having an orientation time. I sent him a copy of this picture and hope to hear from him soon.
This afternoon we had our annual business meeting where we approve our financial reports and approve the budget for the coming year. Everything went fairly smoothly.
John Dawson began session three saying he had been praying for our time and the story that came to mind was of the widow who collected many pots and all the pots she gathered were filled. He felt the application for us was to pursue many legal entities as baskets to enable more growth. The more baskets the more growth. John used that to move on to talking about the ship vision that actually requires a separate legal entity to operate. He explaind about how the current YWAM ships had grown from just one ship, ten years ago to 21 ships currently operating. Emphasizing that it began with an act of generosity by Marine Reach in New Zealand that began in a business meeting just like the one we had held in the early afternoon. Marine Reach gave their only ship to YWAM Australia. At the Singapore Gathering, YWAM Australia announced that they had just completed the purchase of a new ship. Just four hours before John Dawson left to come to Japan he heard that YWAM Australa had given the ship that they received to YWAM Ships in California.
John’s final thought was on what actually gave us the authority to do the things we are called to do. There are four factors that help us determine if we have the authority to accomplish a task.
1. God’s Character. Is what we want to do,consistent with God’s character?
2. God’s ways. Is what we want to do consistent with God’s ways.
3. God’s inititive. Was this initiated by God in prayer?
4. Power of agreement. Are we all in agreement this is from God?
In working with other YWAM teams we have the responsibility to challenge them by these four things.
1. Appeal to the vision, values and covenants. Or ourr story.
2. Asking if they heard from God in prayer.
3. Ask them who trusts and recommends them. Relationship is important in family style,leadership.
4. Commend them to walk in relationship with all,those affected by the outreach they are undertaking.
I am looking forward to tomorrow’s continuation as we look at different ways to view how we can implement family style leadership here in the nation of Japan.
Finally I want to,finish today with a picture of a,family of,long term YWAMersmwho joined us for this conference. We have personally know the Okermans for over twenty years and our children were involved with their family production of Ukon Takayama. A video production of the story of a famous Christian Samurai. Who apparently Owens the land on which our base in Takatsuki now stands.
Posted on March 11th, 2015 1 comment
Today the worship was led by the Tokyo team. There was a good experience of sharing together in God’s presence. After a short break John Dawson had us sit together in two circles to create a more family feeling in which to share. This helped a lot as the new structure called us back to family style leadership from our drit into business style ways of leading.
The scripture John began the meeting with was from Isiah 54 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer. “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 54:1-17 NIV)
John continued sharing how authority and changes happened in a family and how they contrasted with authority and changes in a business or government. He explained how we especially need to see multi-generations working together with the example of Moses, Aaron, and Hur representing the “Grandfather” generation. Joshua the “Older Parent” generation and the soldiers representing the “Younger” generation?
A big lesson for us from this session was the importance of honoring those who had gone before, had left their leadership role but were still with us. This point will be especially helpful in implementing the new structures as we move forward from here to fulfill the theme of the conference. ” Go in and Posses the Land”
Another big blessing for me in coming to conferences is meeting friends from other parts of YWAM Japan. In the picture you can see me with Yoshua Horii whom I got to become close friends with when I visited Okinawa. The pretty lady, Makie is his fiance. They will be getting married in Okinawa this October. I am so happy for them.
Posted on March 10th, 2015 No comments
Today was the first day of our YWAM Japan National Staff Conference. We are gathering in Nara at the youth centre we used last year. There are about 80 YWAMers gathered from around the nation. Our Guest Speaker is John Dawson.
We were greeted by snow on the trees and on the road. Unfortunately our van does not have four wheel drive so the passengers had to get out and push the van up the hills as we neared our destination.
We made it safe and sound though and you can see us all worshipping together.
John Dawson, who used to be the President of YWAM was invited to explain the changes we are going through in our leadership structure as a mission. John began by telling us he is now the Global Convener instead of the President. We will learn more how this reflects the new leadership structure in our times together this week.
Most of our first session was giving us some understanding of the language we need to comprehend the concepts we will be learning about together.
Early in the meeting John told us that the word he felt he had for us as a mission here in Japan was “Noah” with its meaning of “Comfort”. I was very encouraged in a couple of ways. First personally as I read Isaiah 40:1-2 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2 NIV) Secondly, the van we ended up purchasing after our old van was rear ended is a Toyota Noah.
I will meditate on this as I feel there is something significant here.
Posted on December 5th, 2014 1 comment
Yes! We now finally have our brand new second hand car. It is a Toyota Noah with about 55,000 Kilometers on it. We received it on Saturday just in time for us to get the car seats in and prepare for Sunday church.
We are so grateful to all that went into our getting this vehicle. Last Sunday our pastor preached on seeing any problems or difficulties we may experience becoming opportunities of evangelism. We have definitely seen that happen during this time of finding a replacement vehicle. What looked like one step forward and two backward led to us the dealer who on our first visit was quickly talking with us about his experience with visiting churches in both UK and here in Japan. He has accepted our invitation to visit our church for the coming Christmas Jazz concert and will be coming with his wife!
Posted on October 30th, 2014 No comments
I will try very hard to keep this one short. As I mentioned earlier our car was not worth as much as the damage done to it. It seems the other driver’s insurance is only liable for the value of the van so it does not look like we will be able to get the van repaired. We have begun looking on the web for a replacement van but we just found out today that we are also liable for the cost of disposing of our damaged vehicle. We were eligible through our insurance for a free tow but that has already been used getting the van to the repair shop for a quote. I hope we can share some good news a little later.
Here is one of the many links we have researched in the last couple of days. http://www.accessj.com/2012/08/car-recycling-in-japan.html Fortunately we are able to access much information like this in English from time to time.
Posted on October 15th, 2014 No comments
This is a photo of our van taken the end of March in 2011 when we were preparing for our very first trip right after the Tsunami wreaked such damage on the coast of Tohoku. The second picture is of the team that went with us; it was the first of many trips that our van took and included people from YWAM, TBC and Hi-BA. As you can see we took along as much stuff as we possibly could. IT was our small part in bringing relief to those affected by the tragedy.
We had bought this van in 2009 shortly after our last van had to be retired, mainly due to old age. We actually experimented for a month using the public trains and busses. It turned out that we paid over ¥30,000 ($279) in public transportation for this period, so we visited the local Toyota used car lot and were able to purchase this van for just ¥10,000 ($93) a month.
A couple of months ago we finally paid the last installment so the van was totally owned by us. We completed the biannual government required check up including replacing two tyres and were all set for a new season in our lives of enjoying our van with no continuing payments at all.
Then last week we were rear-ended. Now our van looks like this. Everyone had to go to the hospital to be checked but were found to be okay. The van cannot be driven because the exhaust pipe hangs from the vehicle and the fender is pushed back so that the license cannot be seen. It was towed to the repair shop which estimated the repair bill to be ¥716,852 ($6,685) This, however, caused a problem as we heard today from the insurance company that they would only pay to the current value of the van – ¥250,000 ($2,331). TBC……..
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.