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Joining the community

After graduation from language school, I decided to join a craft group in my new local area in Hanamaki, Iwate. I found out from another missionary that there was a long list of circles posted on the local community page, and joined one on the list. I attended that one for the two years I was in Hanamaki, but it was difficult to build relationships and there wasn’t much of an opportunity to speak of spiritual things.

Joining a community

So I also joined a sign language circle that had a good mix of singles, married, and older people. The circle meets twice a month and is more than just a time to learn sign language. It is more about people who are hard of hearing and those who aren’t, spending time together doing different activities; such as cooking, followed by a short sign language session on a chosen topic.

The same day I joined, another lady, Mrs Fuji, also came to try it out, we continued in the group together. Not long after I started attending, I invited one lady to our church English class (which had a short Bible message at the end). That evening she surprised me by bringing Mrs Fuji too. The two ladies seemed to enjoy the evening, and when I asked them whether they would continue, they said they would think about it. At the next sign language meeting the two ladies gave me a present of oranges and said, “Thank you for inviting us to the English class. Unfortunately we can’t continue. But we might start coming in April.”

Soon it was April, so I brought along the English class flyer and asked if they would be joining. But they had committed themselves to something else and said they would not be joining.

God at work

I was so disappointed. I did not expect what happened next, though. We broke for our tea time and Mrs Fuji started sharing about how she had enjoyed her time at the English class, and even seemed to encourage others to consider joining. Mrs Mori spoke up and expressed her interest as well. A few weeks after that, her older child joined the kids’ English class. In the months following, her daughter occasionally came to the kids’ club and also read through three of the manga Bible-based books in just two or three weeks. Mrs Mori also occasionally joined the younger kids’ club too. Where there “seemed” to be no opportunity in one circle God opened the door in this one. As a church family we are in a community, a community of Christ. How can we get alongside the communities we live amongst and draw people, from all walks of life, into the community of Christ?

Margaret Rugira was born in Uganda but raised in England. She went to Japan in 2012 and after Japanese language and culture study spent two years in an OMF church plant in Hanamaki, Iwate.

Will you pray for Japan?

  • Pray for missionaries as they look for opportunities to get to know people to be able to join groups like Margaret did and that God would provide divine appointments.
  • Pray for Mrs Fuji to desire to explore faith and Mrs Mori as she explores further.

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