To Understand Returnees (4) How can I approach them? ― “Are returnees space aliens”? #3

It has been for a while since this article’s up.  I would like to restart the article “Understanding Returnees.”  Please refer the previous articles on the links below.  Hope you enjoy.

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For the booklet download:  LINK

The previous articles links.

Forward

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

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

Churches in Europe and the US are individualistic and place importance on autonomy just like their culture. Service at church seems to be voluntarily in many cases. Therefore there are many Christians who do not serve in church, and it does not make them uncomfortable to be at the church. Even among Christians, there are different personalities and the stance that each church takes on where all these people should serve. When those returnees who have such experiences look at a Japanese church, they may be surprised to see that so many members of the church are involved in service. As Japan is the country where harmony has a high importance , it is often the case that the pastor or leader of the church asks members to be involved in necessary services and those who are asked accept it, and because of the relatively small scale of church, church activity is managed by many people involved at church. How about the case for those who have not reached the point of baptism? In the case of a Japanese church, in general, their activities are similar to that of churches in Japan, therefore it is not so difficult to verify the level of the returnee by finding out what type of meetings he/she attended to what degree, and how much he/she is spiritually led. In case of a local church, there are various meetings and activities for foreigners, so there are many different ways in involving church even if he/she says “I was attending church.”. Sometimes church offers English lessons for foreigners in the local area. For some cases they talk about the Bible prior to or following lessons, but depending on the policy of the church, there are churches that never bring in Christianity. At the churches that are seriously working on ministering to international students, dedicated staff takes care of the international students and holds meetings only for the international students. For example, some churches of Cambridge University in the UK host a meeting starting around 7:00 pm as a form of “coffee bar.” The Christian Union of the university is picking up steam, where the students of Cambridge University also take part in. If Japanese students show up there, there is a chance for the Japanese student to speak with those Cambridge students and become friends. Meeting in the form of “coffee bar,” is in line with the concept of friendship evangelism, it starts with becoming a friend, just like Jesus became our friend, and gradually talking about the good news to learn the Bible together. People can have a free conversation in the setting like a coffee shop during the first half of the meeting. Sometimes a skit that conveys the message of Christianity or music is played.

 

to be continued…..

March Event Info

Below is March event info.

Most of the events in Japan are cancelled because of Covid-19.
Below is mostly events info in North America.

【North America】
◎APU Friday Japanese Fellowship (Azusa, CA)
Time: Every Friday 19:30〜
Location: Azusa Pacific University Room: MMED6
Contact: Ministry Page

◎Living Water (Pasadena, CA)
Time: March 27th, 19:00〜(Every 4th Friday)
Location: Victory Church
Contact: Ministry Page

JxJ (Seattle)
Time: Saturday, March 28th 16:30〜
Location: ISI House
Contact: Ministry Page

Lent

Dr. Sachi Nakamura (JCFN Board Member, Christian Books Translator, Spiritual Director)

This year, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 26th. Lent is a period of 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It is based on the 40days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is a time to prepare for the resurrection of the Lord by meditating on the suffering and death of Jesus through prayer and repentance, and good deeds for atonement. 

 

Traditionally, the church has made Lent as a time of fasting from certain food such as meat or placing other dietary restrictions, or doing good deeds or practicing certain behaviors in moderation. As  Lent approaches, you may start thinking, “what shall I let go of this year? Should it be sweets or SNS?” I think that whether you choose to restrict certain behavior or not is a matter between you and God.  Ruth Haley-Burton at the Transformation Center in Chicago says this: The question we need to ask God during Lent should not be “what shall I let go of this year?” Rather, we should be asking “How shall I repent and how can I return to God from my heart?” and “Which areas in my life have I strayed from God? What practices will help me get back with God?”    

Bible scholar Dr. Ransom Yamazaki says this;

https://1co1312.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/荒野の40日/) (Japanese only)

 

“Lent is a time to remember and identify with Jesus Christ’s experience of spending 40 days in the wilderness.  No matter how we choose to spend this period, the important thing is to deepen our awareness as God’s people and God’s children and to make our lives further rooted in Christ.”

 

Even if you have never done anything special for Lent in the past, maybe you can prepare for the resurrection of the Lord by reflecting on what may be hindering you from loving God and your neighbor, and seeking God’s guidance about it.”  

 

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