Since January 2018, I have been reaching out to Japanese people in Birmingham and, for those going back to Japan as new Christians, helping prepare them for that transition.
I started the Japanese student ministry at the University of Birmingham last September. I met around 20 Japanese students at the curry night I organised for Japanese students. Most of them are postgraduate students who stay in the UK for only one year. We ran the curry nights for six months from October and shifted from the curry night to the Bible study in Japanese from April. Although there was a big difference between the curry night and the Bible study, because we had built up good relationships with them, everyone was happy to come on to the Bible studies.
Takeshi*, who was studying TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), was very interested in Christianity. He joined the Bible study and started reading the Bible on his own. He seemed to be very open to the gospel. As he had many British Christian friends at Birmingham University, he started wondering why Christians are such nice and kind people. He came to Word Alive, a very big Christian conference in Wales for six days in April. There were Bible talks for international students in the mornings and Bible studies in their native language in the afternoons. He was amazed to see so many Christians there and really enjoyed singing worship songs with them every night. He changed very much during the conference. He told me that he didn’t expect the transformation. He looked very happy to start a relationship with God. In the evening breaks, most people went to the nearby beach, but Takeshi spent almost all his free time reading Christian books. He started thinking about the aspects of Japanese culture which are related to Buddhism and how to distinguish between Christian and Japanese customs. He told me that he would like to join a Bible study when he went back to Japan. He was going back to Japan right after Word Alive. I quickly contacted a friend who lived in the same city where Takeshi was going back to. At Word Alive, I was also introduced to some Christian students who studied in Takeshi’s university in Japan. I introduced him to these students just before he went back home. I believe it is very important to introduce returning Christians like Takeshi to Christians back home while they are still overseas. Otherwise, on their return, they will quickly settle back into the busy schedule of life at home and have little time to go to church or Bible studies.
After a while I got sent a picture of Takeshi with KGK (Japan’s Christian Union) students, smiling as he ate dinner with them. I was so glad to see him in the picture. I felt I could pass the baton onto KGK students so that they can help Takeshi continue to seek God back in Japan.
I believe that OMF’s Diaspora Returnee Ministry is a great way of passing the baton on to local churches to support returning Christians. Each time I’m able to do this, I feel great joy, knowing this ministry is God’s plan for me.
*Name changed for privacy.
OMF Diaspora Returnee Ministries
Hiromi is from Japan and became a Christian while an international student in the UK. Returning to Japan, she found it hard adjusting to Japanese church culture and felt called to help new Christians prepare for life in Japan. In 2018 Hiromi returned to the UK with OMF to work with Japanese students there.
Will you pray for The Task Unfinished?
- Give thanks for the opportunity to connect Takeshi with local Christians back home.
- Pray for more connections to link returning students with local churches
- Pray for God’s grace and empowerment for Hiromi in her ministry