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English reading club in a Japanese church

We often hear that English is a golden key to open the channel of spreading the good news in Japan. But English ministry is difficult for a church to carry on after the foreign missionary leaves. And what if English is not the missionary’s native language? What other kind of ministry can they have in Japan?

Most of OMF Japan’s missionaries from Asian countries do not come from Christian families. But many of us started our journey to faith when we attended Christian school in our home countries.

In the case of my wife and I, gospel seeds were planted when we had to read the Bible all through our school years. In the light of this experience, we recently came up with a new outreach idea with a focus on children.

Education in Japan does not include English until Grade 3 in elementary school. In addition to this late start to language learning, the method of teaching English is not very interesting. Some families who can afford it, will arrange for their children learn English at other places outside of school.

So we started an English Reading Club in the local church where we are serving. Since it is expensive to buy English books in Japan, we collected used children’s English books from our home church and supporters in Hong Kong. In a few days we collected over a thousand small children’s books! It was great that our supporters got to be involved in the ministry too.

The kids who come to the reading club enjoy games, listen to a Bible story, and get to read by themselves. But the most popular time is buddy-reading time. We invite English-speaking kids and some of the young people in our church to come to help in the club. So Japanese kids with a lower English ability have buddies to read and share the books with. Both parties enjoy it so much that friendships are built between church members and the other kids.

Without actually teaching any English, this club, by simply sharing the interest of reading books, creates chances to connect and reach out to potential believers. Also, local Japanese church members can continue the ministry when the missionary leaves.

This is the kind of thing we long for—“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor. 3:6 NIV).

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray that more gospel seeds will be planted in the hearts of Japanese children and good soil is prepared for the seeds to grow.
  • Pray for God’s guidance for the next step for further connection with the parents in the reading club.
  • Pray that missionaries and local churches have the vision from God to try more new things.


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