Japanese Ministry in Oregon

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.

 

Yoshiki Saeki

JCFN North America Associate Staff

Michigan Japanese Ministry Report

Megumi Kurata(JCFN Midwest Associate Staff)

 

Hallelujah! Praise be to the name of the Lord!! My name is Megumi Kurata, and I have a blessing and privilege of serving as JCFN Midwest associate staff. We are experiencing some cold weathers still, but I hope this message finds you well. Today, I’m thankful for the opportunity to share with you about what God is doing in Michigan.

 

What comes to mind when you hear the word “Michigan”? Snow? Cold weather? Yes, we have those in plenty, but also the auto industry of course is a quintessentially Michigan entity. In recent years many Japanese people started moving to the area in connection with auto related jobs. Michigan is one of the fastest growing area as far as Japanese population is concerned.

 

There are various Japanese ministries throughout the state of Michigan. In this report I would like to share mainly about the Southeast Michigan/Greater Detroit Area, where the Japanese population density is the highest.

 

We cannot talk about Japanese ministry in this area without mentioning the support of brothers and sisters from the local communities. Every week, several hundreds of Japanese people (mostly expat families) are touched through various programs such as ESL, Bible studies, and other classes that are offered by several local churches.

 

Below is the collage from RJC multi-site conference in Michigan on October 20th, 2018. Many people came together from various local churches and ministries and had a blessed time of networking and encouragement. I’m deeply touched when I see many Americans and non-Japanese foreigners praying earnestly for salvation of Japanese souls, and continuing their labor of love. It is like seeing the reflection of mercy and grace God has towards Japan.

 

Also this time, Rev. Takashi Imori (Toyota Minori Christ Church) and Rev. Tsugeru Irie (Toyota Kamiike Christ Church) visited from Toyota City and participated RJC conference. We had the opportunity to fellowship with them and hear about churches in Toyota City.

Many families that have moved to this area because of the auto related jobs came from Aichi and the surrounding area, and are going back there eventually. I believe it is God’s provisional work of bridge building to foster cooperative relationships between Michigan and Toyota City.

 

Next picture is from Sunday Worship Cafe and Indoor Outing (Mochi edition!) Both of these are non-denominational lay-Christians initiated events that operate beyond the bounds individual churches. Along with Bible studies held in various homes, these events provide a place of encouragement and growth for Christians and an easy entry points for non-Christians.  

So there you have it. It’s cold in Michigan but God’s work here is hot! Please remember us in your prayer.

 

For many Japanese people to meet God in this place and be transformed as Christ followers.

For more workers to tend to the bountiful harvest God is preparing.

For unity and growth among Christians, so that we can respond to God’s call to be a part of His awesome work.

May the blessing of loving God abound over you, wherever you are.

 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaia 52:7

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