As a boy, Yoshi was curious about the new American missionaries who had moved into the house behind his family home. He would peek through the decorative holes in the cinderblock wall separating their backyard from his.
One day the American woman caught him peeking and invited him over for cookies and games. Eventually, Yoshi became a regular at the missionaries’ events and, in time, began attending their church. As Yoshi grew older, his mother would take him up into the hills so that he could attend Bible camps. These were held at the center the American missionaries had helped build: the Aomori Christian Center (ACC). Yoshi became a regular at the Bible camps and as a teenager he came to faith in Jesus Christ.
Yoshi went to university in the United States and stayed on to live and work there. But no matter how many church communities he tried to join, he always felt unwelcome. In time, he stopped going to church altogether. Many years passed. Yoshi met and married Susanne, a wonderful Christian woman. Together, they found a church community where Yoshi, for the first time since going to America, felt welcome. His badly weakened faith grew stronger.
He began longing to revisit the Christian camp where he first came to faith in Japan. Was it still operating? Was it still a place where people like him could hear the gospel and be discipled? In the summer of 2018 Yoshi and Susanne visited ACC. It was his first time back in over 35 years. Over the years the center had suffered hard times. It had even closed in 2014, but a new generation of missionaries had reopened it with a renewed vision for strengthening Aomori’s churches through interdenominational ministry. Memories flooded back for Yoshi and, with Susanne’s encouragement, he determined to lend his support to the pursuit of that vision.
The Aomori Christian Center was founded in 1956 by TEAM missionary Anton Netland. The ministry was moved to its current location in the foothills of the Hakkoda Mountains in 1967. Though it closed in 2014, ACC reopened the next year under the leadership of OMF missionaries. The formal transfer of ownership from TEAM to OMF was concluded in 2018. Yoshi is the man in blue on the right of the photo above.
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for the Aomori Christian Center, that they will have all they need to be able to continue serving the local churches.
- Pray for the many who have heard about God through a camp at ACC over the years, that they will seek God.
- Pray for the camps coming up in the next months, that people will be strengthened and renewed in their faith, or would come to faith in Christ.