EC20 Beyond Testimony

Yuka Akashi

I made the decision to accept Christ last April, and I will be returning to Japan next month (February). Since I began my college life, I was surrounded by Christians and that has become my norm.  Now, I am going to live as a Christian in Japan, I have no idea what that would look like.  I hadn’t even thought about it before EC, but after I had decided to register for EC, I began wondering how I’m going to keep my faith.  I was worried about not knowing where the churches are or anything about a Christian life in Japan.  I wanted to become a Christian because I had this special environment.  I was worried about leaving my faith once I returned to Japan.  In fact, I wish I hadn’t said that I would become a Christian. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I even thought that.

EC is a perfect conference for a new Christian and a soon-to-be-returnee.  It was just the thing for me!  I was able to attend because it was online, but because it was online, I could only listen to the sermons in between my work and it was difficult to concentrate at times.  I was able to make many connections with people in Japan in small groups and by region, and was introduced to many churches and related events and communities.  Among them, I was able to feel God’s work through the Soul Care Ministry.

 

When I applied for this counseling program, there was a section on the application form where I had to write down the details of my issues.  I didn’t have any major problems at the time, but I thought I’d just apply for the counseling, so I wrote something like, “I made a decision to accept God in April, but everything is online. I’m going back to Japan soon, so I’d like to think about what I’ll do after I return to Japan.” 

I thought that the counselor was aware of my issue, but she didn’t seem to know anything about it and she was anxiously praying for the time together with me.

On the day of the session, I spoke with the counselor for the first time via Zoom. At that point, I had some questions and concerns about returning to Japan through the EC program, so when she asked me about my concerns, I told her that I wanted to ask about how to find a church and relationships with my family and relatives after I returned.  She had experienced a similar situation as me when she returned to Japan. Her face instantly lit up and it became obvious to us that it was arranged by God for us to meet.  

I will be baptized next Tuesday.

 

I had a feeling that Christianity was a part of American culture, but when I realized that there are so many believers in Japan, I felt that the God we believe in is the same God everywhere, the one and only, the absolute, and that we are all connected through Him.

The thought of being connected with so many Japanese Christians and Christians who support them gave me courage and made me feel less anxious about returning to Japan. I am not afraid because I have friends and the same God. From now on, no matter what people say about me in Japan, no matter what difficulties I face, I want to believe in God’s timing and grow in Him.

 

EC20 is to be Online!!

Hello hello! My name is Kristine Reddington and I’m an associate staff for JCFN. I am also the director for this year’s Equipper Conference (EC). (EC is a conference held to equip those who will one day return to Japan)

I’m sure some of you have been wondering.. “What’s the plan for EC this year?” 

I am happy to announce that we have decided to have an online conference this year👏👏

Although we will miss seeing everyone in person, we are excited for this online opportunity. Here are some things that were said in the EC committee discussions:

“Because how crazy this year has been, EC will be a huge blessing for people”

“Doing it online doesn’t mean that we need to give up on our vision”
“God will move powerfully regardless of how EC happens”

In our discussions, we were reminded that God will use this new and unique EC for His glory.

With that, I want to share with you this year’s theme. Theme for EC20 is…

“Listen…~So you may live~”

When I was thinking about the returnees and the things God had been teaching me, what God gave me was this concept, “to listen.” “Voices” are huge influences in our lives. To listen to the world or to listen to God determines the way we live. So at this year’s EC, we want people to see the need to listen and respond to God in their daily lives. We also want them to see the joy that comes with that.

With COVID-19 stuff, we have been led to pray and “listen” as the EC committee more than usual. In that, God has challenged us and encouraged us. I am confident that God who is already speaking as we plan will speak powerfully at EC20. So let’s be expectant❤

This year’s EC is also the 30th anniversary of JCFN. I am so excited for God to do only what He can do. So please pray with us for this year’s EC~☺✨

 

To Understand Returnees (2) How can I approach them? ― “Are returnees space aliens”?

For the booklet download:  LINK

The previous articles links.

Forward

  1. Who Are Returnees?

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North and South, East and West in Japan. We experience culture shock even moving within Japan. When we move to a new location for school or work, we go through the process of adjusting to the local customs. We learn a new way to do things and get used to it when we come across the language and custom/tradition that we had taken it for granted did not work. The church setting is also like a small society. People coming from a different church background will experience a similar process of adaptation. Meeting someone with a different background from ourselves could be sort of a culture shock, not only for the one visiting, but also for the ones who welcome them. There is a step-by-step process to welcome and walk with those who have a completely different way of doing things, different values and language, sometimes even the way they dress is different from what we think is common. We often hear, “We have experience welcoming people who move from other areas of Japan, but we have no clue about returnees.” Some say, “Returnees are like space aliens.” Despite the confusion with such unfamiliar experiences, an increasing number of churches (believers/pastors) have the desire or wish “to understand the returnees who became Christians outside Japan,” or “to make them feel like they want to come back to our church again,” in various regions in Japan. This is great! In order to understand their background and welcome them, it is extremely important to learn what kind experiences those returnees had overseas and To Understand returnee Christians 7 how their faith was nurtured. The following are some of the keys to do so.

Point 1. What kind of church has the returnee attended overseas?

What kind of church did the visiting returnee attend during their stay overseas? Was it a local church, or a Japanese church (often called JCF, which is the abbreviation of Japanese Christian Fellowship)? If it was a local church, it is most likely that the returnee knows about Christianity through mainly English. If it was a Japanese Church, the style of how they worship is similar to Church in Japan. (In most of the cases, however, churches except the ones in the west coast of the US are cross-denominational.) Now, how about the age group, style of worship, types・the way of praise and size of the church that the returnee attended outside Japan? When you have this specific information, you can see the whole context of the returnee’s experience in church outside Japan. For those who only attended a local church, it is helpful if you ask him/her whether he/she has met a Japanese Christian before he/she came back to Japan or is reading a Japanese Bible. Some are involved in Japanese fellowship as well as attending a local church, and if that is the case, he/she could have experienced Christianity in Japanese considerably.

to be continued….

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