Experiencing over 30 years of OMF history in Japan
My wife and I have served with OMF in Japan for over 30 years. When I first joined in 1987, there were no computers, internet or mobile phones. First term missionaries weren’t even allowed to have a land line phone. How times have changed! Now it is hard to imagine living and ministering here without these modern conveniences.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, however, hasn’t changed, and it is on that basis that our work has carried on through the years.
As OMF we believe that a long-term sustainable way to reach Japan with the Gospel is to start churches. Indeed since 1951 OMF Japan has been planting churches here in places where there was no other viable witness.
We personally were able to help build up a church plant in Hatazawa, a community of about 20,000 people located on the Chiba coast opposite Tokyo. Hatazawa is an old farming and fishing community that also has one of the world’s biggest steel mills. By the time we arrived, other OMF missionaries had already started the church and worked hard in the area for about 10 years.
In the following two decades through lots of prayer, proclamation of the Gospel and pastoring believers, by God’s grace the church grew to where about 40 people were worshiping together every Sunday. The church was able to put up its own building, and then 5 years later call its own Japanese pastor. We rejoice to say that Hatazawa Church is now a faithful, established Gospel presence in a place where just a generation ago there was no witness at all.
Creative ways of doing mission
In OMF we not only have missionaries involved in church planting but also those who focus on evangelism and partnering with Japanese churches. After handing over Hatazawa Church to others, my personal burden grew to focus on widespread evangelism that could reach the next generation. My wife and I have been involved in chapel weddings at hotels, writing tracts, Christian social media sites, street performance, and sports ministry among other things.
In 2020 Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics. We have been networking with various agencies involved in sports ministry to organize a coordinated outreach. The eyes of the world will be on Japan in 2020 and we want to see God use this unique opportunity to bring great blessing to the country.
One Japanese man who has been reached through recent sports ministry is Mr. Tanaka*, a former rugby player who survived a life-threatening head injury on the rugby pitch. When Franklin Graham came to Japan with his Celebration, our sports ministry hosted a special satellite event for athletes. It was there that Mr. Tanaka made his profession of faith. He is now a strong Christian and helps our ministry by networking directly with other athletes.
The Unfinished Task
After witnessing 30 years of mission work in Japan, I know that the task is still unfinished. In the areas of Japan where OMF works, nearly 500 communities with a population of 3,000-50,000 still have no church. Fewer than 0.5% of the people in these areas are Christians.
God is at work in Japan, but we long for many more to be reached for Jesus. Please be part of what God is doing and join us in praying for and serving the Japanese.
*Name has been changed
by Ralph, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for more missionaries like Ralph to commit to long term mission in Japan.
- Pray for Japanese churches to grow, be established and revitalised, reaching out and planting new churches.
- May there be a vibrant church impacting every community in Japan!