Working with students
The Japanese student movement KGK has its roots in the prayers and initiative of Japanese students. It celebrated its 70th anniversary last year and is part of the worldwide IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) fellowship. OMF has been privileged to be able to support this work over the decades.
In 1951, a CIM missionary* who had been working in China stopped over in Kobe (western Japan). He spoke to students about the revival he had been watching on Chinese campuses in those years just before the 1949 Revolution, and how he had partnered with Chinese colleagues in preparing students for life under communism. The Kobe students were challenged to see their campuses as the place where they were called to live and speak for Jesus. They soon linked up with Tokyo KGK students who already had that focus.
In 1960, the first OMF missionary to be invited to work with KGK began to run summer camps. The first camp was attended by three students from Hirosaki (a city in northern Honshu where OMF still works). The missionary passed on the “students-reaching-students” DNA to those in the north of Japan where OMF’s church-planting was then centred. He later moved to Tokyo where he encouraged many young men into full-time ministry. They are the “ageing pastors” of today, still going strong in their 70s, and still grateful for their “older brother” who started them off down that road.
Student ministry continues to play a key role in OMF’s goal of raising the next generation of Christian workers and lay leaders. Earlier this year, it was a joy to be one of seven OMF members who served as staff or volunteers at KGK’s national training event.
Ministry with students also leads to Japanese Christians getting involved in cross-cultural ministry, another of OMF’s goals. One of those Kobe students, challenged in 1951, had a daughter. She grew up to serve as KGK staff, join OMF, and pioneer student ministry in Cambodia.
Student ministry always feels fragile but by God’s grace we are encouraged as we look back and see God’s faithfulness through the generations.
Other student ministries of OMF
KGK has great strengths in discipleship, and students-reaching-students, and life-on-life friendship evangelism. However, OMF missionaries working outside of KGK have been able to reach a wider circle of students, seeing the gospel spread among them too.
In order to make contacts with students, OMFers take classes themselves, teach in universities, or in church buildings near campuses, and open their homes to feed students with hundreds of meals and the food of God’s word.
Short-term workers can get to know students through clubs on campus, for example, juggling, English-speaking, music, or sports. OMF currently has student ministry teams in Sapporo and Sendai, and members working with KGK in Greater Tokyo. We seek to love and influence students wherever we find them, as we share Christ in word, deed, and character.
* CIM later became OMF.
By Rosanne, OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Thank God for all that He has done in and through Japanese students over the years.
- Pray for Japanese students to be bold in reaching out to their fellow students in word and deed.
- Pray for more workers to encourage the few Christian students and to reach the unnumbered students who have yet to hear the gospel.