Japan Trip Spring 2023 – Apr 17-Jun 28 – Report 2
May 12, 2023
Time has slipped by and we have now finished three weeks in Japan. The last couple of weeks have been filled with many exciting things. It started with the Spring Joint Worship Service. It has been three years since this event was held in person. Josephine and I journeyed to Mito about 85 miles northeast of Tokyo in order to participate in this in-person gathering.
It was heartwarming to see so many we have known over the years. Eighty gathered for the in-person meeting and another 26 met online via Zoom. Twenty-two congregations were represented by those who participated. It was so very encouraging. We worshiped together in the morning, had lunch together (the weather was beautiful), and then reassembled to play some games and get to know each other. The lesson given was right on and so encouraging.
One surprise came at the end of the meeting. The church building that the Mito church uses was dedicated on the same day forty years ago (1983). In going through some of the history of the church one of the leaders realized that I had preached at that dedication. He felt it appropriate that I lead the closing prayer. I mentioned that finally meeting in-person after three years gave us a glimpse of what our reunion with our Lord will be one day. What memories!
The following day we worshiped with the Ochanomizu church in Tokyo. Again, there were reunions with brothers and sisters. Our acquaintance with this congregation goes back to 1969 when we visited as college students. It was on that trip that Josephine and I decided to minister in Japan. This congregation was our guarantor for our ministry in Japan.
The next evening we were visited by one of the elders of the Ochanomizu congregation and his wife. They were not able to be at worship the day before because they went to worship with the Haruna church. We visited for almost two hours. Both their children are now grown and out of the house. He just recently “retired” and was hired back at half salary. This is a common practice in Japan when you reach a certain age.
The next day we hosted two brothers who were in Japan to tour and also to look at possibilities for ministry. We were able to share some opportunities and challenges for the ministry here.
Josephine celebrated the beginning of her birthday month on May 3. Time keeps moving forward as God designed it.
On Sunday, May 7, we worshiped with the Tachikawa church. We are always thankful for their hospitality in allowing us to stay in the third-floor dorm. It makes commuting easy when we worship with them.
On May 9, we had a special treat. One of the members of the Uenohara church where we ministered for six years (1980-86) communicated with other members who were there when we began ministry there. Four families came for lunch and a time of fellowship. It brought back memories from 43 years ago.
Finally, just yesterday on May 11, I began teaching from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I had prepared to deliver them in 2020 but was unable to because of the pandemic. Over the course of three Thursdays, I will cover the six chapters of the letter. These classes will be recorded for future use among the churches. There were 7 in-person in the class and another 8 via Zoom. Each class is on one chapter and lasts for about 30-40 minutes.