My Ministry in Atlanta

Hello! I’m Daisuke, the North American head who loves ramen.

…I started writing, but this time I won’t touch on ramen at all. (Ah, I really want to eat ramen…)

I’d like to touch on the recent situation in Atlanta.

Maybe because I’ve been serving as the Director of Equipper Conference for a few years now, I’ve been hearing a bit more about EC’s image lately. But the original heart and passion of our ministry lie in “Local Ministry.” I also recall that my path as a ministry was cultivated by opportunities to share testimonies and the gospel with international students and expatriate families.

I live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta is the largest city in the southern United States on the East Coast!

When I first came here, I didn’t understand anything, but now I find myself being introduced to more Japanese people in the community.

In addition to JCFN, where I am, there are several missionary organizations reaching out to Japanese people, and we work together as a team to minister. It’s nice to be able to focus on God’s work together without any territorial disputes or feelings of being taken or taking from others. It’s beautiful!

The work in the Atlanta area is largely focused on “Events,” “Building community networks,” and “building a Personal relationship”

We hold an “English Cafe” every month, where not only non-Christian international students gather, but also parents with kids to those in their 30s. By the way, when it comes to February, the world celebrates Valentine’s Day!! In the February English Cafe, we plan to discuss the difference between the love celebrated in the world and the love Christians receive. It’s a team event where we have weekly meetings and make various preparations for this packed content.

 

We also value collaboration with local churches, pastors, and missionaries.

We plan gatherings with the collaboration of churches to invite Japanese non-Christians to fellowship. It’s a precious opportunity for them to learn about “What is a Christian?”.

Through cooperation with local Christians, we aim to further introduce our ministry, hoping that when people connect with Japanese individuals, they’ll also connect with the Tsuchida family!

Lastly, we provide support for understanding in Japanese.

When spoken to in English, even if we don’t understand, as Japanese people, we tend to say things like “Yeah…” (laughs). I totally understand that feeling… Even though we’re told “If you don’t understand, ask,” it’s like we can’t bring ourselves to ask!

However, as a result of such casual responses, Americans often happily report things like “He accepted Jesus”… well, I guess that’s to be expected.

But later, when you ask in Japanese, you might hear, “Huh! That’s not exactly what happened!!” – the language/culture issue.

Personally, I take opportunities to ensure that through testimonies, scriptures, and prayers in Japanese, individuals can truly understand what the Bible teaches.

Because it’s a ministry for Japanese people overseas, I feel that understanding in Japanese is even more important every day.

In the place where God has put me,

I will do my best!

JxJ Testimony

Takuya Toma (Center in Pic)

I was raised in a Christian home, and my faith has been nurtured through church and KGK (Kirisuto sha Gakusei Kai) in Japan. For the international training program at the company I work for in Japan, I had the opportunity to live in Seattle from October 2022 for one year.

Amid the anxieties of my first experience living abroad, I was fortunate to be connected with fellow Japanese Christians who graciously provided me with a place to stay. Not only did they offer a fully furnished home, but they also assisted me in getting settled after my arrival. While hearing stories from colleagues who had struggled to find housing after arriving in the United States, I felt truly blessed to have a place to stay and acquaintances even before my departure. Along with this family, I have been greatly supported by the Christian community in Seattle through shared meals and fellowship. Each day, I have been overwhelmed by God’s provision, surpassing my imagination through the people of Seattle.

Wanting to give back some of the blessings I have received from God, I learned that a ministry called JxJ (Jesus x Japanese) had been suspended due to the pandemic in Seattle. JxJ is a ministry organized by Japanese Christians in Seattle. After several meetings with JxJ preparation team members during the winter, we decided to relaunch JxJ in February, focusing on outreach to Japanese students, fellowship among Japanese Christians, and praise in Japanese. It has been a privilege to continue JxJ on a monthly basis by coordinating with the team members, allowing us to connect with international students and those interested in Japan. The program includes sharing testimonies, praise, warm meals, delicious cakes, and various activities like games and table tennis.

I have been encouraged by hearing how individuals met Jesus and the impact of faith in their lives during these testimonies. In particular, the testimonies of students who found faith in Seattle were powerful. Amid the various concerns about returning to Japan, their confidence in living according to the principles of the Bible encouraged me. I hope to continue to communicate with them and support one another in living with Jesus.

Sharing meals is a valuable time to get to know each other. We talk about why students came to Seattle, how school is, what life is like in the United States, and many other topics. We have been inspired by each other’s stories, even though our life stages differ. While there have been fluctuations in attendance, God has provided rich moments at each gathering. I am truly thankful for the dedicated servants who prepare delicious Japanese food for this fellowship. However, we feel the need for financial support to continue providing meals. Currently, all the food is provided by the volunteers, but we would appreciate any donations to support the ministry of JxJ, which is essential for its continuity.

In JxJ, we place great emphasis on praise in Japanese. Initially, I had some reservations about singing praise songs in a space where there might be non-believers. I was concerned about whether people would feel uncomfortable listening to “unfamiliar religious songs.” However, I had a meeting with a student who changed my perspective before relaunching JxJ. She told me that during a few months of Bible study, she hadn’t felt inclined to believe, but while listening to worship songs, her feelings suddenly changed, becoming the turning point for her faith. Her story made me realize the need to trust the Holy Spirit’s work in moving people’s hearts through our praise. It was a significant experience for me to be able to praise, hoping that Jesus’ love would be conveyed to the hearts of the students.

During one of our team meetings, we decided to choose a specific song for each gathering. We selected the song “New Life.” The opening lyrics, “I have met you; your love is something that cannot be replaced,” bring tears to my eyes. Reflecting on how meeting Jesus has enriched and filled my life, I have an overwhelming desire for as many students as possible to receive this love. I hope to continue believing that the Holy Spirit will touch the hearts of students through praise in JxJ.

My time in Seattle is coming to an end, and I will be returning to Japan, leaving the remaining operation of JxJ to the other team members. I want to express my gratitude to each member for their service, which I couldn’t cover here. Many people from students to those with families have prayed and served for JxJ. Please pray that each JxJ gathering becomes a joyful place overflowing with Jesus’ love. Additionally, please pray that the team members can continue to serve JxJ with joy and unity.

*JxJ is one of JCFN’s regional gatherings. Donations should be sent to JCFN, specifying “JxJ.” For donation information, please refer to this link. Donation Link.

 

Let’s hear about JxJ!!

Hello everyone – JxJ (a Seattle-area outreach ministry) closed its ministry in January. In this issue, Mina Chen, who was involved with JxJ from its beginning to the end, talks about JxJ!

A brief self-introduction, please!

My name is Mina Chen and I came to the U.S. as an international student in 2002 and became a Christian that year. My family consists of my Taiwanese-American husband and our 7-year-old son. I currently reside near Seattle, Washington.

My involvement with JxJ
I myself met Christians, read the Bible, and encountered Jesus for the first time when I came to the U.S., and I wanted to share about God with Japanese students who had also come to the U.S. At that time, I met a friend who also had a burden for Japanese evangelism, and in June 2006, we decided to start JxJ (Japanese – times – Jesus; Jay Jay). We had help and supports from mission organizations such as JCFN, ISI, JEMS, as well as local churches. We are grateful that we have been able to continue our activities as JxJ for 15 years until the year 2021.

Memories at JxJ / Blessings received at JxJ
JxJ started with the prayer that the number of Japanese who have a relationship with Jesus would increase like multiplication. As the name implies, God gave me many encounters through JxJ, and it was a huge blessing to be able to see up close how people met Jesus and were raised to believe in Him as their Savior. Whenever people were woken up to make a faith decision at JxJ summer camps and other events, I was encouraged to reevaluate the foundation of my own faith. As I was planning the JxJ Reunion in January 2022, I realized once again that God has sent hundreds of people to JxJ throughout the past 15 years. I am grateful that JxJ was a part of each “only one life (by encounter) that each encounter determines”. At JxJ, we had a monthly testimony time, and each person had a beautiful story of how God led them to Him, and I was encouraged every time. It was also a blessing that even though there are several churches in the Seattle area, each staff member went to a different church, we were able to unite and serve together beyond the confines of our church.

 

Has there ever been a challenge at JxJ? If so, what kind of things? What do you think you learned from it?

I was grateful for the opportunity to serve together with people of different personalities, backgrounds, and ways of thinking who were brought together to form the JxJ staff, but even though we all had the same reason for evangelism (why) – to share Jesus’ love with people – our methods (how) were different and sometimes conflicting. We also sometimes took personality assessments among JxJ staff members, and learned to understand and respect each other. Through JxJ, I also became aware of my own pride and judgmental nature, and it was a time for me to learn humility. I am grateful that each of us learned that Jesus forgave and loved us through the cross, learned to love and serve like Jesus, and experienced unity in our underlying desire to share that great love with others.

 

Thoughts on future evangelism in the Seattle area

At the “JxJ Reunion~ Under the same sky” in January 2022, JxJ ministry was ended. At the reunion meeting, Pastor Roger Olson gave us words of encouragement and challenge. He spoke about the importance of having a desire to strengthen the soul of believers and follow God’s leading and to be used, even when we do not know how things will turn out in the future. Many of those who passed through JxJ have returned to their home countries, entered the workforce, married, raised children, and are now in different environments and life stages. We pray that they will continue to seek God in their respective environments and be used as vessels to share God’s love in their relationships, and that souls will be raised to be saved. Right now, the future is uncertain due to the Corona disaster, but if it is God’s will, we believe and pray that He will provide for the needs and resume the ministry like JxJ.

 

 

Thank you so much!

You can watch the JxJ finals through this Youtube link. Let’s continue to pray for Japanese missions in the Seattle area!

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