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Connecting with Japanese People through Photography

I have always had a passion for photography. I especially enjoy nature and landscape photos. When I packed my camera gear to bring it to Japan, my wife asked me “What are you going to do with that camera stuff in Japan?” At the time I honestly did not know. Of course I had hoped to take some nature photos from time to time, but could I use my photography in ministry? I felt God had given me some talent for photography so I trusted there must be some way of using it for God’s glory. I began to pray for ideas and opportunities.

‌Shortly after our arrival I found out photography is a popular hobby in Japan. There are many photo enthusiasts and many of them belong to local photo clubs. I was soon invited as a guest on some photo outings by the Aomori Nikkor Club and made many new connections. Then they invited me to participate in the club’s annual exhibit at the Aomori Art Museum. I was given 7.5 meters of wall space to exhibit photos. Each participant needed a title theme, wanting to glorify God I called it “The Creator God can be found in nature.” Thanks to favorable newspaper articles the exhibit was well attended and my wife and I were able to speak with many people asking us questions not only about photography but why we were in Japan. This gave us many opportunities to share the gospel and we even made some new connections.

‌One of the difficulties with evangelizing in Japan is many people have barely heard about Christianity and there seems to be great resistance to stepping inside a Christian church for the first time for fear of cults, strange beliefs or practices. Once they come to the church they quickly see people who are “normal,” but with God’s love. So, the challenge is to get them to come to the church for the first time. This is why we do all kinds of outreaches such as English class, youth events, cooking events, music events, and of course holiday events.

‌God then planted an idea in my head: why not use photography to host a family photo event for the community? Setting up a studio inside the church was easy and it would bring people into the church. I had most of the equipment I needed, I just had to purchase some light stands, umbrellas, and a back drop. I photographed church members and people from the community. I did not charge them anything and just emailed them a high-resolution photo that they could then have printed. Everyone had fun and it was very well received and appreciated. The main purpose was to get new people across that threshold into the church.

‌This year we are now planning another Family Photo event, some photography classes and workshops, and the Aomori Nikkor Club has again invited me to participate in this year’s exhibit. God truly works in wondrous ways. Using my passion for photography to bring God glory is truly joyous.

By Roy, an OMF missionary

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