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Love Triumphs Over Fears in Tokyo Homeless Ministry

Throughout the Covid pandemic, the homeless ministry we’re involved in continued and we witnessed some incredible God-given courage and love. The ministries with the homeless and the poor in Tokyo have shown us how spiritedness, fortitude, and love can triumph over fears.

Two ministries to the homeless in Tokyo were faced with possible closure during the Covid crisis. One was the Thursday night open-air Lazarus ministry at Ikebukuro that feeds around 65 people with the Word of God and food. The other were Sunday services by Nakayoshi church in Ikebukuro when Covid was threatening lives in Japan.

Thursday open-air ministry

The ministry team did not miss a single week in feeding them, as they knew that the homeless and the poor still needed food. Chef Yoshino continued to cook for them weekly. The voluntary staff, including a Japanese pastor, were there every Thursday, taking turns to minister with the Word and distribute the food.

Were there fears of contracting Covid? Yes. Fears were present, but love and care for the homeless and the poor gave us strength and the fortitude to press on. For three years, none of the 15 of us who ministered was sick with Covid and neither did we see Covid spread when large gatherings took place. And we saw a bigger turnout, due to the loss of jobs and families needing help.

Sunday services

The Sunday services and the afternoon tea outreaches also had no breaks. Both gatherings were held in person because the homeless and the poor do not have the means to do online church at home. Continuing the worship services at the Toshima Civic Center allowed them to have food on Sunday, as well as opportunities for human interaction and the feeding of their souls through God’s Word. The lay leaders of the church exhibited courage as they cared for their flock week after week.

The holistic nature of ministering to these folks has provided many opportunities to draw close to God. The homeless and the poor have witnessed the love and the care of Christians who risked their health for the sake of those they ministered to. During December 2022, we saw 28 put their faith in Christ at the Thursday open-air meetings.

Covid was incredibly frightening during the peak, yet with some precautionary measures (masks, food consumed outside the worship hall, etc.), the church was able to continue to minister. Two Japanese lay-leaders have separately testified to the fact that, in God’s mercy, none of us— homeless, the poor, the voluntary staff, or those attending Sunday services and outreaches—contracted Covid during our gatherings!

Now, we continue marching on in ministering to the homeless and the poor with a stronger degree of love and compassion. Nothing can stop us from serving them with love in action.

By Louis, an OMF missionary

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