From the mid ‘50s to late ‘80s the Spirit of God spread like a wildfire through Japan’s north island of Hokkaido, an area barely touched with the gospel up till then. In the area of Sorachi, central Hokkaido, five churches were planted. As these churches grew, they were able to call Japanese pastors.
Fast forward 35 years, and due to population shifts, only four of these churches remain and only two have full-time pastors. In 2014 the Sorachi Team for Evangelism was born as a co-operative effort between OMF and the Japanese Evangelical Churches Association (JECA) with the aim of supporting these four churches. We are not planting new churches—we’re encouraging the faith of existing churches and helping small rural churches re-catch a vision for evangelism. And then, through the Lord’s strength, come to see the fulfilment of that vision. What we do is called “church revitalisation”.
It has been encouraging to be a part of an amazing work of God, seeing various ministries birthed, lapsed members return to the church, newcomers becoming regulars, and four baptisms in four years.
But it is not just about numbers and results. It’s been about faith and a genuine heart for evangelism. We’ve seen a growing desire for the evangelism of their neighbours, their town for Jesus and the discipleship of each other. The church members are now also spurring each other to grow in their faith and Christ-likeness.
This is what revitalisation is all about—seeing the discouraged get excited. It would seem that all they needed was help embracing a dormant vision and an extra set of hands.
By Steve, OMF missionary
Will you pray for Japan?
- Pray that churches in Japan would be encouraged and have renewed vision for reaching their communities.
- Pray for wisdom for OMF as we seek to find ways to help with revitalisation of churches in Japan.
- Pray for good cooperation between organisations such as the Japanese Evangelical Churches Association (JECA) and mission organisations such as OMF.