Looking Forward to Seeing You All at EC!

This year, from December 27th to January 1st, 2024, EC will be held!

The theme is “TAKUMI – Made for His Purpose.”

By the way, have you ever heard the word “TAKUMI” before? It’s not a word we hear often in our daily lives, especially among young people.

Generally, “TAKUMI” is like a title that represents the ultimate artist/craftmen. These craftsmen are called such because they embed in their work a perfect and highly unique idea regarding the design, purpose, and how the creation should be used, an idea that only they truly understand.

Our Creator is the ultimate and one-of-a-kind TAKUMI. We are filled with God’s design, purpose, and ideas.

In our daily lives, we are surrounded by the expectations of others. For some, this may result in daily pressure. Whether you’re a student or a working adult, you may find yourself trying to be a certain way and thinking, “I must be like this,” or “This is how I want to be perceived.” You probably have a sense of how others see you and what kind of self you’re trying to present. Of course, there are times when it’s important to adjust and uplift yourself for the sake of others. But what is the real “you”?

If you’ve noticed that you’re acting a certain way, you might find yourself exhausted at some point. This is because the most vibrant and lively version of yourself is different from your original design. It may sound like a strange comparison, but a washing machine is not the same as a smartphone (I know, right?). A washing machine lacks smartphone-like features, but it can do things that a smartphone can’t (obviously!). This is because it was created with a clear purpose as a washing machine. What kind of design has TAKUMI (God) put into us for our benefit? While we focus on our true purpose in life, we should also look more closely at the TAKUMI, God, who created us with a definite purpose!

Immediately after the last EC concluded, preparations for EC23 began. The organizing committee is eagerly awaiting your participation!

Daisuke Tsuchida, Director of EC23

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Registration LINK is here.

Additional Information:

This year, there is a limited capacity, and we are already 70% full. Please register early! A portion of the participation fee will be supported by scholarships. If you require a scholarship, please apply for it when registering. The early bird registration deadline is November 4th. Registration will close once we reach capacity, but the final registration date is December 9th.

Upon resignation as JCFN Associate Staff: Yoshiki Saeki

I am Yoshiki Saeki, the North Associate Staff. As of the end of June 2023, I will be closing the chapter on my activities with JCFN Associates. Along with my farewell, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on what God has done during the approximately ten years of my involvement with JCFN through this article.

This content overlaps with what I contributed to the 30th-anniversary annual report, but my connection with JCFN began with ec01 and ec02 on a bitterly cold snowy mountain in 2001. Starting a youth program, which did not exist at the time, was the beginning with my wife. Each time I hear about the blessings on the work of ec Youth since then, I am overwhelmed by the Lord’s plan to use small acts of service richly. Additionally, the fact that my firstborn son, born around the time I assumed this position, is now reaching the age to participate in ec Youth is further surprising.

The greatest turning point (or event?) in my involvement with JCFN was serving as the director of the planning committee for ec 10 and ec 11. At the time, I was facing a dead end in my work at the church where I was serving as a staff member and was in a state of recovery from burnout. From a human perspective, it was not the best timing at all. However, I was granted peace in being called to this work, an opportunity to confront my true self and reevaluate the calling given by God. During the two years as an director role, I immersed myself in this work. The Lord brought together wonderful committee members, including the JCFN staff members, and I learned many things during this period.

Through sharing, prayer, reflection, planning, sometimes redirection, decision-making, and the process of weaving programs together around the given themes, God consistently showed blessings beyond our plans and expectations. Throughout this season, God gently and powerfully touched me while I was falling, leading me to the work I am entrusted with now.

Even after ec, I was allowed to continue my involvement as an Associate Staff. While working full-time at a Japanese company, and being involved in house church activities in Portland, I had time constraints (JCFN staff members, I appreciate your patience with me always being on the edge of deadlines). It was a time of personal mentorship, sending off returnees, and networking opportunities. I am thankful for being placed within the process of connecting, nurturing, and sending, as described in JCFN’s mission statement. God is the one who sends us, and through JCFN, I felt like I was on a journey where I touched upon God’s will to send, and was further invited to God’s kingdom projects. In business, at home, in school, in the local community, God is faithfully working toward His covenant and continually inviting. This was one of the blessings I received through working at JCFN. Additionally, in February 2022, I received the grace of being ordained as a pastor in my mother church. Currently, while still working for a company, I am serving as a pastor for the Japanese ministry at a church in Portland, which is involved in multicultural and multilingual activities. Through fellowship with brothers and sisters from various cultures, I receive training and encouragement daily to perceive God’s work in the diversity, guided by the Holy Spirit, within a local context and a global perspective.

Looking back, I can certainly say that through my work, encounters, and interactions with JCFN, I have been constantly encouraged to walk faithfully in the calling I have been given. I would like to take this opportunity to deeply thank all JCFN members who have supported me with love and patience as I navigated my imperfect journey thus far. As the small mustard seed-like work planted in this land called JCFN continues, I cannot help but hope that it will bear even richer fruits through all of us scattered in various places. My involvement as a Associate Staff comes to a close, but I ask for your continued support in the Lord.

As we earnestly pray for His kingdom to come to this land. – Yoshiki Saeki

 

Shake, Shake, Shake

Hello everyone!

My name is Yuko OZEKI.

Since the theme of this year’s EC, “Unshakable – Our Firm Foundation,” was decided around this time last year, it has been a year full of things that have made me wonder why I have been so shakable.

The number of appliances that have broken in the past year has been humongous. 😭

(1) Refrigerator,
(2) Microwave oven
(3)Bread maker
(4) Toaster
(5) Rice cooker
(6) Dishwasher

And last week
(7) Washing machine

broke down. Ding. 😂 Isn’t it terrible to have so many breakdowns in one year?

Even if the foundation is not shaken, when the top is shaken, it’s pretty depressing.

At times like this, what has been Life-Giving for me?

(1) Devotions in the morning, when I light a candle and make a cup of hot tea.
(2) Playing ball with my dog at the dog park.
(3) Jogging and yoga.
(4) Eating delicious sweets.
(5) Using a foot massager to prevent swelling.
(6) Meditation while doing the labyrinth walk.
(7) Having a place to share your thoughts and feelings such as bible study and spiritual direction.

I am very happy to be able to do these things. When I write them down like this, I realize that it is “one-off events” that shake me up, but all the things that help me build-up are “routine.”

So by developing habits to energize even when shaken, we can build back up again, broken or not. As long as the foundation is not shaken, you can rebuild as many times as you want.

What is a Life-Giving routine for you?

The following is a quote from C.S. Lewis that O-kun shared with us during the first EC Executive Committee meeting. These words have also been a great support for me this past year.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

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