To Understand Returnees (2) How can I approach them? ― “Are returnees space aliens”? #2

For the booklet download:  LINK

The previous articles links.


  1. Who Are Returnees?
  2. How can I approach them? –“Are Returnees Space Aliens?” #1


Point 2. How about experience at church in Japan before going overseas?

If he/she met a Christian, became friends or had contact with Christianity for the first time in their life during their stay overseas, it is apparent that the returnee had no experience at church/Christianity in Japan, so this should be considered when you guide him/her. If the returnee was a seeker in Japan, attended Sunday school when he/she was younger or is familiar with the Bible or service because he/she attended a Christian school, he/she knows what church in Japan is like to some extent, therefore confirming their prior experience is important.


Point 3. How was he/she involved in church outside Japan?

If the returnee attended a local church, he/she could have been treated as a guest (visitor). It is challenging for most Japanese to be involved in church activities in an environment where there are many people and a language barrier. Therefore it is possible that the returnee has no experience in serving.

Meanwhile, in the case of a Japanese Church・JCF, like the businessman in Case 2, often people are actively involved in serving soon after baptism (sometimes even during the stage of seeking) as the church needs to be supported by only a few people.

If he/she is saved at a Japanese church or fellowship such as a home Bible study hosted by a Japanese Christian, it is possible that the returnee was actively serving in the group. It is helpful to know this background information as well.


Point 4. How did the returnee develop their faith? Baptism?

You may think that the question to confirm the spiritual situation of the returnee should be asked earlier, but if the returnee says that he/she was “baptized” at a local church, it is different from the case that he/she is baptized after preparing for baptism and being taught what it means to be a member of church. Thus I believe that the earlier questions are more meaningful considering the importance of this issue.
In case of a Japanese church, many times, a Japanese pastor is providing some sort of learning opportunities before he/she is baptized, so you may confirm how he/she prepared, how much he/she was taught about church and being a member of a church.

If the returnee was baptized at a local church, since some church baptizes ones who wish to be “baptized,” like Ms. A in the first case, it is important to ask, “How he/she was prepared,” and “how the Christian life was led by those who were baptized at the church.” For example, in the UK, a so-called “Christian nation,” as a part of a state church tradition, baptism mainly means infant baptism, and it is common that even nonbelievers have their child baptized when he/she is a baby, just like Omiyamairi* in Japan (*Omiyamairi literary means a visit to shrine. It is a Shinto ritual that occurs when a baby is about 1 month old. They wear special white clothes for the ceremony, and have a special kimono draped over them. As the baby’s grandparents hold him/her, the priest presents the news of the birth to the guardian spirit of the shrine, and offers thanks. He then asks the spirit to protect the baby and keep him/her healthy.). Those who were baptized as Christians attend the same “diocese” wherever they move to, therefore the sense as being a “member of a church” does not exist in general. (Of course, Baptist churches and established churches exist in the UK as well.) Although there is no such a diocese system in the US, Australia・New Zealand, there are many churches that are not conscious about the church membership system, therefore it is not rare to be baptized on the day when one prays for confession. Thus it is often the case that there is a significant difference between being baptized at a local church or at a Japanese church. At a Japanese church, being baptized means becoming a member of the church in many cases, however, baptism at church outside Japanese purely mean the confession of one’s faith.

It is also a rare case, but sometimes when we ask the returnee about their confession of faith in detail, he/she just could not say, “no” when they were asked if they believe in God,” because his/her friend in the area took care of him/her very well and taught Bible politely with patience. This is difficult to understood by non-Japanese.

to be continued…..

To Understand Returnees (2) How can I approach them? ― “Are returnees space aliens”?

For the booklet download:  LINK

The previous articles links.


  1. Who Are Returnees?


North and South, East and West in Japan. We experience culture shock even moving within Japan. When we move to a new location for school or work, we go through the process of adjusting to the local customs. We learn a new way to do things and get used to it when we come across the language and custom/tradition that we had taken it for granted did not work. The church setting is also like a small society. People coming from a different church background will experience a similar process of adaptation. Meeting someone with a different background from ourselves could be sort of a culture shock, not only for the one visiting, but also for the ones who welcome them. There is a step-by-step process to welcome and walk with those who have a completely different way of doing things, different values and language, sometimes even the way they dress is different from what we think is common. We often hear, “We have experience welcoming people who move from other areas of Japan, but we have no clue about returnees.” Some say, “Returnees are like space aliens.” Despite the confusion with such unfamiliar experiences, an increasing number of churches (believers/pastors) have the desire or wish “to understand the returnees who became Christians outside Japan,” or “to make them feel like they want to come back to our church again,” in various regions in Japan. This is great! In order to understand their background and welcome them, it is extremely important to learn what kind experiences those returnees had overseas and To Understand returnee Christians 7 how their faith was nurtured. The following are some of the keys to do so.

Point 1. What kind of church has the returnee attended overseas?

What kind of church did the visiting returnee attend during their stay overseas? Was it a local church, or a Japanese church (often called JCF, which is the abbreviation of Japanese Christian Fellowship)? If it was a local church, it is most likely that the returnee knows about Christianity through mainly English. If it was a Japanese Church, the style of how they worship is similar to Church in Japan. (In most of the cases, however, churches except the ones in the west coast of the US are cross-denominational.) Now, how about the age group, style of worship, types・the way of praise and size of the church that the returnee attended outside Japan? When you have this specific information, you can see the whole context of the returnee’s experience in church outside Japan. For those who only attended a local church, it is helpful if you ask him/her whether he/she has met a Japanese Christian before he/she came back to Japan or is reading a Japanese Bible. Some are involved in Japanese fellowship as well as attending a local church, and if that is the case, he/she could have experienced Christianity in Japanese considerably.

to be continued….

Podcasts that I like (1)

Hello, I am Yuko Ozeki

Recently, I listen podcasts a lot while exercising at Gym as well as doing chores at home.

I like it because it’s not like Youtube that you actually have to sit and spend sometime for it but that you can do while doing something.

So, today, I would like to share with you what I am listening. 


The first one is …

the Next Right Thing」Emily P. Freeman

This is the podcast about Decision Making, yet, you learn in order to make a good decision, you have to create space for God to work in your life, and create a rhythm to allow God to lead your life, so that you can discern what matters and what doesn’t.

I like her voice a lot.  It’s soothing and I feel serenity. hahaha.

this became a best seller book, too. 

hope it will be continued….


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