JCFN Associate Staff Introduction Part 3: Chisato Tateyama

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.

 

“Bikkuri Udon” (surprise udon), sweets, games, and Merry Christmas!

What are your memories of Christmas?

When it comes to Christmas, I will never forget the Christmas at Kishiwada Bible Church in Osaka, where I grew up as a child in elementary school.

For me, Christmas Eve was a festive and most enjoyable day.

First, we would sing Christmas carols with the choir in front of the station after noon. I was happy and embarrassed when my school friends found me.

Then, an eve service at the church. We had a candlelight service and sang hymns. Then I smell something burning. The high school boys behind me are burning my hair! Whaaaat a surprise! I almost got into a big fight during the service.

After such a happening, we now split up into groups to go out for Christmas caroling. A car group, a bicycle group, and a walking group. We go around to those who have attended church, those who are sick, and those who are currently evangelizing, contacting them in advance. Each group goes to about three to five homes. I loved these outreach caroling. I loved these delivery caroling because the people we would visit would have various sweets, cakes, fruits, and other goodies waiting for us. As a child, it was the best service I had ever done, and I would get a great reward just for going and singing.

When I finally returned to the church in the cold, the ladies’ group had prepared the church’s specialty, “Bikkuri Udon” (surprise udon). It is a regular kitsune udon, but the amount is so large that it is surprisingly large, as it is for one and a half to two balls! I remember that the name came from the fact that the amount of udon was so large that it was called “surprise udon.

Anyway, everyone eats these warm udon noodles out of the freezing cold, and then we put out sweets and cakes like spoils of war and eat them, and from there, everyone, young and old, men and women, enjoy the games together until late at night (I guess until about 10:00 pm).

Well, that was fun! It was delicious!

It’s great when you get invited to Jesus’ birthday party! I have thought that since I was a child. I had learned about Jesus who was born as a man for my sins in Sunday school, but anyway, having Jesus born and being able to spend such a fun Christmas Eve is a pleasant memory from those days.

These days, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day end up being spent preparing for EC. But we can all respond to God’s invitation at EC afterwards and gather at Jesus’ banquet.

I am now looking forward to seeing what gifts God has in store for us at this year’s EC. It is something He has specially prepared for all participants, including my personal one. There will also be wonderful blessings that the Lord has prepared for those who remember us in prayer.

As we thank and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the light of hope who came to a world of darkness.

Merry Christmas!

 

Setsu Shimizu (North America Director)

Moments of Relief

Is it because I am getting old? Lately, it has become quite frequent for me to think, “Oh, I’m so tired! I don’t have the physical strength that I had when I was in my teens or twenties. And if I neglect my daily training, I can’t deny that my muscular strength is deteriorating rapidly. Still, I have noticed that my “energy level” does not depend solely on my body.)

On the way back to home from the JCFN Japan office in Ochanomizu, there is a stairway with less than 200 meters to go. I climbed up the stairs with a steady pace, thinking, “I am almost home. The moment I reached the top of the stairs, I was relieved to see the sunset from the recently developed park field. It was not from the sense of accomplishment of having climbed the stairs, but from the uplift that comes with seeing something “beautiful” and thinking “Wow!” when I see something “beautiful.” It was a moment when I realized that it was something that encouraged and cheered me up when I should have been tired.

I am happy to see such a gift from God’s creation.

As a supplement, when I get home, I see my “beautiful” wife and I am, once again, relieved to see her. (Sorry to ramble…)

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