My name is Chisato Tateyama, and I’m in my 2nd year as JCFN associate staff responsible for England and Europe. I was born and raised in Udon City, Ibaraki Japan, in a non-Christian family. Honestly, I grew up not only in a non-Christian family, but also as a second-generation Unification Church member when I was little, and as a second-generation Jehovah’s Witness when I was in elementary school, which I remember.
For those reasons, when I grew up, I became a rather stubborn atheist. I would have been a very awkward type of Japanese person to evangelize. It was the parents of my husband, Tateyama Takashi, whom I was dating at the time, who first overturned my notions of my dislike of religion. Also a Swiss-French girl who was my roommate when I studied abroad in England, who got me interested in Christianity. Then when my husband and I were staying in Manila, Philippines it was Pastor June Griffiths, a former OMF missionary from England, pastoring the Manila Japanese Christian Church who helped me decide to be baptized.
In 2003 we moved to Manchester, England with our 4-month-old daughter and began seminary life. During the five years we lived on the university campus, we cooked a lot of Japanese food throughout the week, invited Japanese speaking students to our small apartment, and did student evangelism. Thanks to the Japanese food, which was very precious in the English countryside, the students would attend Bible study every week without fail for the sake of the Japanese meal, and a large percentage of them came to faith and returned to Japan.
It was during those seminary days that we met a lovely lady who spoke the Osaka dialect and was a regular visitor to Europe from the U.S.. We were very much convinced at the time that JCFN’s statistic, )which had no official basis in fact), was “Japanese are 30 times more likely to come to faith outside of Japan in other countries”. We thought that was really true. We were convinced because we’d experienced it firsthand. We thought, “If only there were more Japanese churches and more Japanese pastors in Europe like there are in the U.S.” As a result, this strong feeling gradually became a calling from God to us.
Our family moved to London in the summer of 2008 and have been involved in church planting and Japanese evangelism for 15 years. Many things have happened, but it’s simply God’s grace, mercy, and gratitude to see Japanese people who stubbornly reject the Christian faith, like myself in the past, being transformed by God’s Gospel and seeing their lives changed right before my eyes.
I always appreciate your prayers for Japanese evangelism overseas! In London alone, it’s estimated that 50,000 to 60,000 Japanese nationals (Embassy data: approx. 30,000) reside in the city. Please continue to pray that we can serve the Lord and the community with boldness and wisdom for Japanese evangelism and follow-up of returnees.