In Hong Kong, children’s ministry is not difficult as churches or Christian schools have good reputations and parents will not hesitate to bring their kids. However, in Japan, the situation is different.
We have been running a Kids’ English Club in the church we’ve worked in since we graduated from language school. It was begun by the previous missionaries here and we took it up one year after they left.
When we began, we realized that there were a few challenges.
As we had just moved into the district, we didn’t know any of the kids, so it was difficult to invite new people to come.
We didn’t know the names and faces of those who used to come. We didn’t know their English level or their expectations. We didn’t have enough Japanese to make games fun or to talk deeply with them.
We spent a lot of time preparing the Bible talk, but they didn’t seem interested or didn’t even understand what we were talking about.
We didn’t know how to contact the kids who’d come previously, because we didn’t have their contact details. We also had no idea how many of them would come to any activity. I remembered once we had prepared for about 20 kids, however, only five children showed up, and all of them were the kids of our volunteers.
It was really frustrating.
After praying and some trial-and-error, we made some changes.
We started a new registration system at the start of the new year. We got the contacts details of the kids, then we could make contact with their parents every time we had an activity. Through this, we have gained the trust of the parents, and they are much more willing to send their kids to our events. We can also estimate the number of the kids attending each time.
Once a month we have also added an extra hour of time to play board games after our normal English Club time. By playing together with the kids, we can talk with them, start to get to know them more, and build deeper relationship with them. If the parents come too, we have a chance to share with them.
I divided the kids into groups during the Bible time, which allows time for deeper sharing—that has helped the kids to listen to the Bible talk better. We hold parties every two to three months and invited parents to join us, so that they can hear the gospel too.
Last year, when we gave out attendance awards to the children at the last meeting, one of the boys got a stationary set while his best friend got a Bible comic. What surprised me was that the first boy asked his friend to swap with him as he really wanted to have a Bible comic to read.
At that moment, God told me that what we are doing now is worth it. We may still have frustration, but God is able to use our witness to reach these children.
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray for perseverance for those involved in children’s ministry in Japan.
- Pray for wisdom in building relationships with children and parents.
- Pray for workers in their first term of service, as they learn about Japanese culture, language, and how to do ministry in this country.