It is such an unpredictable time, but the CC preparation team will continue our discussion with anticipation, excitement, and hope in the Lord!
Here are some announcements about CC20 that have been decided at this point.
１．CC20 participation is FREE!（with an option to give）
We are taking advantage of the fact that this year’s CC will be online, and decided to offer the conference for no charge. We hope to see God’s Word being delivered to wider recipients through the speaker Rev. Mao Shimizu, and for the Lord’s heart to be revealed to each participant. We’d appreciate it if you could remember in your prayer that CC will be blessed and utilized ever more for the fellowship of Japanese Christians beyond the bound the Midwest.
We are accepting optional donations online for the operation of CC next year on.
Offering and T-shirt payment link (Please select Central Conference Donation for your offering, and Central Conference T-shirts for T-shirt payment)
２．If you wish to participate, please register!（Dead line 5/16）
Once you are registered, you will have an option to join a small group via Zoom after the main session, and also to participate in workshops. We strongly encourage registering so that you can be assigned to a small group. Main session will be broadcasted on JCFN’s Facebook Live page. Main session can be viewed without registration, but in order to enjoy the full benefit of the conference, please register! We will announce the URL for the broadcasting as soon as it is ready.
３．T-shirts are on sale！
Anyone can purchase the T-shirts, even without CC registration!
It’s a super cute design with the bear embodying the hope to bear the “fruit of the Spirit”, which is given in our walk with the Holy Spirit. It’s a must-have! There are limited numbers available in each size, so please don’t wait to order! Part of the proceeds will be used for CC support fund. ($20/shirt, including shipping to the U.S). *If you are buying more than 2 shirts, we may be able to apply some discounts. We will let you know the detail later. CC20 T-shirts ordering form
We have a full program on offer for CC, even with the online version! Such as a total of 3 main sessions, small groups afterwards, workshop, and prayer meeting are scheduled. It will be via Zoom, and it is our heartfelt hope that each program will provide the participants blessings, encouragement, and aid for growth to be a fruit bearing believer. You can view the overall timeline for the conference from the URL below. (It is in CST) (Schedule may change). CC20 schedule (Japanese Only)
Previous CC Announcements can be viewed from the link below
Dr. Sachi Nakamura（JCFN Board Member, Christian Book Translator, Spiritual Director)
This month, I would like to introduce a spiritual discipline called “Breath Prayer.”
Breath prayers are simple and short prayers that are repeatedly recited in your heart as you breathe in and out. It is a simple yet powerful prayer that can be prayed anytime and from anywhere. Breath prayers help us to turn our thoughts and focus back to God and restore our souls when we are feeling confused, anxious, and weary. It can be done anywhere, such as during our commute, while doing household chores, or in our walks. Practicing breath prayer can remind us that the Lord is with us throughout our day. Paul may have had this kind of prayer in mind when he said, “pray without ceasing.”
The history of breath prayer is said to go back to the fifth or sixth century. At that time, there were people known as the “desert fathers” and “desert mothers,” who lived secluded lives in the Egyptian desert. The prayers that those desert fathers used to pray were passed on to the Eastern church, and became known as the “Jesus Prayer”. Jesus Prayer is a short prayer consisting of saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is said that they used to pray this as they breathed for tens and hundreds of times each day.
Breath prayer consists of two phrases. As you breathe in, you pray the first phrase. Then, as you breathe out, you pray the second phrase. Since it is hard to do this prayer out loud, we pray in our hearts. For example, if we are using the Jesus Prayer, it will look like this: (while breathing in) Lord Jesus, (while breathing out) have mercy….”
When you are actually praying, you do not pray out loud. In Greek, the word for “breath” is pneuma. Pneuma can also mean “spirit.” The Holy Spirit is also called Pneuma. As we slowly breath( pneuma) and prayer, we can become aware of the Pneuma, who lives within us. We are reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit that lives within us to comfort, encourage, empower and instruct us.
There are no rules for what kind of phrases can be used in breath prayer.
Let’s look back to Jesus’ interaction with the blind Bartimaeus in Jericho. Bartimaeus shouted to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Then Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Imagine Jesus gently asking you, “What do you want me to do for you?” What will you ask Jesus for?
“Lord, have mercy on me.”
“Lord, help me.”
“Lord, be with me.”
Another good way is to choose a short Bible passage and use it for meditation in your prayer.
For example, you can pray and meditate on the phrase “The Lord is my Shepherd,” as you breathe.
Take a big breath as you say in your heart, “The Lord is…” Then, slowly breath out saying, “my Shepherd.”
Or, you may also pray the name of the Lord, Yahweh as you breathe. “Yah,” “weh.” Again, “Yah,” “weh”.
As you breathe out, try to let out the worries, fears, or frustrations in you, or anything that may be pulling you away from God. As you breathe in, try to take in God’s love, grace, mercy, and the life of God that sustains you as much as you can.
I really hope that you will try this breath prayer for yourself.
For the booklet download: LINK
The previous articles links.
- Who Are Returnees?
- How can I approach them? –“Are Returnees Space Aliens?” #1
- How can I approach them? — “Are Returnees Space Aliens? #2
- How can I approach them? — “Are Returnees Space Aliens? #3
- How can I approach them? ー”Are Returnees Space Aliens? #4
- How can I approach them? ー”Are Returnees Space Aliens? #5
- When a person feels, “I will come back to this church” #1
When a person feels, “I will come back to this Church.” #2
Well, we are in Japan!?
We may hear the voice that says, “That being said, sticking to the past events forever and cannot focus on what is in front of a person is not healthy, so would not it be better for the person to have let bygones be bygones?” It could be true. However, experience of living abroad has a powerful influence on that person, and it already became a part of his/her personality. As it is written in Bible, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.“ (Romans 12:15), I think we can help the person to truly “live” the entire life including his/her overseas experience when we accept his/her ideas and feelings, stay there for him/her and treat him/her with the love of Christ.
When “In other countries,” is repeated, I feel that my church and the way as a Christian is denied.
If this makes you feel such a way, I do not know how to apologize to you. Whether the person who talks about churches outside Japan is a returnee who does not know church in Japan or someone who knows both churches to a certain degree like us, he/she never means it. When we say it, it comes from our wish that, “please understand the differences. If you understand them, it helps you to understand and welcome returnees,” meanwhile, for the case of returnees, they may do so because of their simple desire to share their experience, the sense of nostalgia, as an expression of reverse culture shock or the frustration at himself/herself not being able to fit in a Japanese church in front of them. They may pour out, “I wish it were like church outside Japan,” even though they know it is impossible, but they are not denying or hoping it to be changed overnight.
About “culture and good news”: From a worker involved in cross-cultural ministry called overseas Japanese ministry
Now, I think it is necessary to talk about the ideas on “culture and good news,” which is the premise of this work. In our work of overseas Japanese ministry, we always mention that there is the “true nature of good news (permanent)” and “expression in each culture (changed by culture)” to those who became a Christian outside Japan. When my husband and I studies at seminary in the UK and in the US, how we draw a line between these two was the major theme. Learning of Missiology was a big help. In the modern Protestant missionary history, Western missionaries brought in the culture of their homeland as well as good news to the country where they were. Therefore, the study to distinguish permanent things and things that could be changed by culture (things that are OK to be changed) was advanced. Currently, in the area of cross-cultural ministry, encouraging the expression based on each culture is becoming all the more valuable.
Christianity (Protestant) in Western countries is also Christianity that flourished in the culture. Before that time, Christianity was a culture in Near East and Mediterranean Sea regions. How the good news in Judaism culture recorded in the Bible and the good news in gentile culture are different is the basis when we think. Christianity was already introduced in the UK in the 4th century. As time went by, each era had the way of expressing good news. Mistakes that should not happen, such as confrontation against Catholic, religious oppression and bloodshed because of that, were experienced. Modern English church seems to deal with potential issues with the developed knowledge through the long history. It is not completed at all, but I think there are many things we can learn from them as older brothers and sisters with longer experience in Christianity.
150 years have passed since the good news was introduced to Japan through a missionary form the western nation. Although it was popularized and grew in the postwar period it seems to be still in the phase of “how to protect what was introduced.” We have to find answers as Japanese for issues in daily life and the issues of how to live in the environment with pagan religion by learning theology from Japanese perspectives. Western theology provided us the framework. We have to apply it to our reality as Japanese. That should be put into practice by each Japanese Christian. That is what we are thinking when we challenge our work.
The way and/or ideas of each religious community and denomination and the form of service and/or administration policy have historical necessity and a reason for existence. When a change occurs there, that is the time when a person becomes a living stone of the body of Christ and dedicates oneself, one who loves the body of Christ recognizes the needs of change, find way to change, find answers and put it into actions.
Whether the person is a returnee or not, a newcomer must respect and accept what has developed there, and he/she needs to be a living stone himself/herself. If wishing for a change, as a living stone, one must live together with other living stones, brothers and sisters.
Therefore, when we lead returnees, we try to deliver the message of 1 )it is a mistake to seek for a church that is similar to the one the person has experienced before returning to Japan, in other words, to distinguish the expressions brought by the nature of the good news and each culture, and teach him/her to seek for permanent things beyond culture (Bible, God in the Bible, faith to believe that Christ is the savior, and others, 2)we try to teach, “you never lived in Japan as a Christian. Church in Japan teaches it and supports you. Learn deliberately there.” How our Lord will develop churches in Japan? We are praying that He will returnees as a catalyst, but how would He give answer to it? I would like to look forward to it and protect, and sincerely obey with what is given to us as our role.
to be continued….
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