We have worked as missionaries seeking to plant a church in the rural northern Japanese city of Hanamaki for nearly four years. There are many ways to plant a church and we are willing to try most things, but in a rural community becoming part of the community is an important place to start. Although church is so much more than a building, having a building where we can serve our community is a great blessing. Up till recently we used a small rented home, but the space was tight.
For over a year now, the church has held a community café one day a week where all kinds of people come to meet, to drink coffee and eat cake, to laugh, and sometimes talk about their problems. It’s an unpredictable time as anyone could turn up—including homeless people and those with significant mental health issues. But we give it to the Lord in prayer each week and ask him to surprise us! Our passion is that church can be a loving community and we’re seeing that develop before our eyes.
In the last six months, a number of our regulars have been studying the Bible with us and others have picked Bibles up off the shelf and started reading them together without any input from church people. Please pray that God will use his Word to call people to believe in Jesus.
Being part of the community
In April, due to the generosity of supporters in Japan and abroad, we were able to buy a four-bedroom house which we have converted into a building that will more closely meet our needs. The building was dedicated on September 13th (2020). We’re so thankful for this blessing from God.
The lounge and dining room is now a worship area that opens up onto the kitchen so we can hold many more people for our café. The garage has been extended to make two meeting rooms for English classes and children’s events. The building is an excellent public location and as we worked on converting the building, many passers-by stopped to wonder what was coming into their community. It’s also very close to where my wife and I live with our children, so we’ll have an excellent opportunity to invite locals to worship services and other events.
What will the future hold for our church community as we start using this new building? We have many ideas. Can we run after-school groups for school children on their way home? Can we show the (sadly delayed) Olympics on a big screen? Can we hold Korean classes led by our Korean members or exercise classes?
Please pray for us, that our building, and indeed our church community, will be light in a dark place in this part of northern Japan.
—By Mark, an OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
Give thanks for the provision of this new building.
Pray that the new church building will help this church community to be a light in this city in northern Japan.
Pray for other church plants around Japan, as they prayerfully consider where they meet and whether it would be advantageous to find different accomodation.