Hello, this is JCFN’s North America Associate Staff, Yoshiki Saeki. I have been a resident of Oregon for 18 years and have done ministry at JCFN for 8. Portland, Oregon is always near the top in “top cities to live in” rankings.
The Japanese population state-wide is estimated to be about 7000. Most of these Japanese people live in what is called the Portland Metro area, which encompasses Portland, Beaverton, and Hillsboro, as well as Vancouver, WA.
There are many Japanese Companies that develop in these areas, and due to these companies staffing from Japan, the number of expatriates is on the rise.
The character of this area can be described as “liberal”, along with what could be called the center of the now-also-popular-in-Japan “DIY Culture”.
It has been 18 years since I began living here, but due to the recent climb in population, the urbanization of the area has begun to overtake the surrounding nature; a trend that saddens me a bit.
Currently in the Portland Metro area, there are four Churches that offer worship services in Japanese. However, thinking about the Japanese population and the size of the city, this is not a large number. There are mission organizations such as ISI that target international students, and many ministries that work through homestay programs. The sharp decline in Japanese international students has finally mellowed out, and there are now many more opportunities to share the Gospel with these short and long-term exchange students.
Amidst all of this, the first RJC Conference opened its doors in 2017. (RJC is short for “Reaching Japanese for Christ”, and is a conference that focuses on building networking and synergy between brothers and sisters that have a burden for the Japanese people living in North America. Please see https://rjcnetwork.org/ for details)
Different churches and mission organizations were able to come together, pray, and share the same mission vision. By doing so, we were able to tackle the question of “How do we go and carry out what Christ wants us to do in this city?” It provided us with hope and challenged us. After that, we were able to slowly grow our network among Christ’s workers, beginning with the Stoller family, who had retired and returned to the states after a very long mission in Japan.
I imagine Portland will continue changing in many ways. The Message of the Kingdom of God will never change, and as long as there are Japanese people who need this Message, the work needs to continue.
I pray that the Good Work that God has begun, continues and grows in prayer.
JCFN North America Associate Staff