I’m Yoshiko Nishisako, of Inspire-Union=Inspa which serves as the Tokai regional meeting of returnees.
Inspire-Union is a long-established JCFN regional meeting, celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2005 and it will celebrate 20 years in 2025. I think I became involved with INSPA shortly before the 10th anniversary in 2015. The leaders and core staff members who had been involved since its inception were gradually changing, and at that time we had a monthly regular meeting on a Saturday afternoon at a church in Nagoya City. However, as the lives of the core staff members changed, it became difficult to continue planning and running the monthly meetings. Therefore, the members gathered to pray and exchange opinions about the future direction of INSPA. The monthly regular meeting became an occasional meeting once every 2~3 months. Although it may appear downsized and backward to others, I think it was a positive turning point for us to serve as a base for returnees in the community, “doing what we can, when we can,” rather than the size of the meetings. At the occasional meetings, we held takoyaki parties, movie nights, and other events where we could enjoy the joy of seeing each other from time to time while maintaining a relaxed fellowship.
After some time had passed since the transition from regular meetings to occasional meetings, the spread of COVID19 prevented people from meeting in person. The occasional meetings were replaced by online meetings. It became more difficult for the core staff to plan, organize, and run 90-to-120-minute online programs, although they are occasional, and to set up and manage servants to serve.
We had a period of time for each core staff member to pray about “how God is going to use and lead INSPA in the future,” including the continuation of their future service. At the same time, one of the sisters suggested, “Let’s pray about INSPA for 30 minutes every month.” and a “little prayer meeting” started.
Using Zoom, we held a 30-minute prayer meeting on the 2nd Sunday night of each month (sometimes extended…lol) to pray about how the Lord is leading and using INSPA. The number of people who gather is less than ten each time, but we pray together for each other, about returnees in the area, and about returnee ministry itself. I think it’s because we are a small group that we’re able to have a time of deep fellowship and prayer.
The “little prayer meeting,” which started in January 2022, has continued without a break monthly under the Lord’s guidance. The number of core staff participating is now two. While praying and asking for people to join the work of INSPA, the core value of “those who can do what they can do, when they can do it” remains unchanged, and I believe that it is this flexibility that allows us to continue. There was a time when the very existence of INSPA was uncertain, but now we may continue as a ministry to returnees in the Tokai area in the form of the “little prayer meeting,” and I believe that the Lord is certainly guiding our steps.
Although it is a tiny prayer meeting, the Lord is at its center, and I hope that we’ll continue to receive the blessing of praying together and be richly guided in the future.