FCBC Serves Japan (July, 2018)

Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo

The team set off for Japan early Saturday morning, 14 July, and arrived at Narita Airport at 4.20pm, Japan time. It was too late to travel to Yokohama that day, so we made our way to Tokyo and checked into our hotel. This was a capsule hostel, so it was quite an experience for us first-timers!

Day 2: FCBC Yokohama Service, Travel to Nagoya

The next day, we made our way to Yokohama to meet up with Pastors Caleb and Christina. With expectant hearts, we arrived at FCBC Yokohama and prepared for worship, which was anchored by Pastor Christina herself. As service started, the congregation was led into praising God with “San Bi Shu”. The guest speaker for the weekend was Pastor Juliet Pranoto from Indonesia, and amazingly, she was the composer of this very song! It was a joyous time as she even led us to sing the Indonesian version together.

Nathania then shared her testimony, opening up about the struggles of her family and how God has been faithful through every circumstance. The congregation was blessed and encouraged with Psalm 27, to “be strong and take heart, and wait on the Lord.”  

Following that, Pastor Juliet preached on “Making Disciples and Outreach”. She shared with conviction on how experiencing God through love, truth and powerful encounters compels us to reach out by relying and hearing God’s voice. We were then tasked to act on our faith and pray prophetically over a fellow brother or sister. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully and many were touched by the timely rhema words released.

Many stayed back to mingle and fellowship after service ended, and it was a wonderful time for us to interact and make friends with the FCBC Yokohama members. Finally, we made our way over to Nagoya, together with Pastors Caleb and Christina, and Samuell (a Korean-Japanese singer-songwriter and FCBC Yokohama member).

Day 3: Showa Era Lifestyle Museum, Image Consultancy Meeting, Alpha Course

We began our first day in Nagoya in high spirits, with a sumptuous lunch of ramen. Pastors Caleb and Christina introduced the team to Goi-san, a Singaporean who works as a professor at the Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, and a former member of FCBC Yokohama.

Our first appointment brought us to the Showa Era Lifestyle Museum, where we had the privilege of meeting Kimmy (head of a Non-Profit Organisation [NPO]) and the director of the museum. This museum depicted the daily life of ordinary Japanese in the 1950s-60s, which was eye opening for us Singaporeans. The exhibitions were a collaborative effort between Kimmy and the director, to evoke a sense of nostalgia amongst the elderly population and bring together the different generations in Japan.

As a team, we went under the context of “Dream Centre” – a NPO set up by Pastors Caleb and Christina to reach out to underprivileged youths in Japan. We were even interviewed by a local newspaper (Kita Nagoya) to create more publicity for the museum and understand our motivations as foreigners coming to Nagoya.

Afterwards, the team split up – some went to meet Nakane, an image consultant, while the rest went to prepare for the Alpha Course happening later at night. The main purpose of meeting Nakane was to establish a relationship, and discuss possible collaborations between Dream Centre, Japanese and Singaporean university students, and image consultancy.

At night, we joined in the third Alpha session on “What is Faith?”. Pastors Caleb and Christina together with Goi-san anchored the programme. Alpha is run in Nagoya through a series of six interactive sessions that explores the basics of Christian faith. The video clips were tailored for the local audience, with Japanese subtitles specially prepared by FCBC. We were joined by five other believers, and it was a blessed time of sharing and honest conversations. Karen gave her testimony as well, and spoke of God’s faithfulness in using her to bring her family members to Christ.

Day 4: Prayer Walk at Nagoya Castle, Prayer Meeting at “Connect” English School

In the morning before our prayer walk, Rachel shared a vision she received during devotions. She saw a majestic lion letting out a loud roar, and was brought to the image of the Israelites walking around the walls of Jericho. Similarly, she felt Japan is in the position of entering the promised land, and so it was crucial for us to intercede for spiritual walls to tumble down.

Interestingly, the main tower building of Nagoya Castle was not open to visitors that day, and just like the Israelites, we decided to walk around the walls prophetically. Many words were released as we interceded and worshipped, and one common theme was claiming God’s breath of life over a spirit of death. This spirit of death manifested itself in several ways: rocks that looked like coffins, numerous crows, dried up wells, and barren lands covered with weeds. Hence as we walked the grounds, we claimed God’s living waters to be released over Japan, to turn ashes into beauty; death into life.

As we stood on a bridge above the coffin-like rocks, Rachel led us to proclaim the lyrics of “Making a Difference”.

“We want to run to the altar
And catch the fire,
To stand in the gap
Between the living and the dead.
Give us a heart of compassion
For a world without vision,
We will make a difference
Bringing hope to our land.”

Celine prophetically threw a stone at the walls of Nagoya Castle, and shouted out Matthew 24:2, “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Altogether, we walked around the castle a total of 12 times, and claimed the blessing of Psalm 48 upon Japan, “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her (Japan) secure forever. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our (Japan’s) guide even to the end.”

After dinner, the team gathered at “Connect”, an English school started by Nilash – a missionary from London. The presence of God fell powerfully as we worshipped and interceded for Japan, and professed of God’s goodness and faithfulness over our own lives. Through this meeting, it was also decided that the space in “Connect” would be used for the second round of Alpha Course in Nagoya, as there has been rental issues at the current building used. Praise God for His timely provision! 

Day 5: Nagoya University, Busking at Oasis 21 

Prior to traveling to Nagoya University, the team took time to pray and seek the Lord for bible verses to bless the university students. During this time, both Nathania and Rachel received detailed visions of female students God wanted them to reach out to. For Nathania, the vision depicted a girl sitting alone at the corner of a table, wearing blue jeans and a light coloured shirt. As for Rachel, the girl she envisioned had short hair with bangs, and donned black clothing. With anticipatory hearts, we set off and split into two separate groups. 

The first group – consisting of Nathania, Stella, Rachel and Samuell – miraculously found the two girls. In following the Spirit’s leading by faith, we had the chance to pray for them, and Rachel even managed to get the student’s phone number and invited her for Alpha Course. 

The rest of the team had the opportunity to interact with several students. Time was spent praying and interceding for the school and the students, as we claimed God’s presence and sovereignty over the campus and Japan. Overall, it was awe-inspiring and humbling to be used by God as His vessels of blessing.

In the evening, we arrived at Oasis 21 and found an ideal spot at the rooftop, which overlooked the entire city skyline of Nagoya. As we worshipped and sang His praises unabashedly, the public started taking notice and some even stopped to listen. While we were singing “What a Beautiful Name”, a group of girls approached us and we invited them to join in. It was a truly special moment worshipping together – even the girls who weren’t believers sang along enthusiastically. We also bumped into a group of Korean missionaries. Truly, how precious it is when believers from diverse tongues and nationalities can transcend differences to worship our Lord and Saviour together.

Subsequently, the team chanced upon a ‘stage’ at the garden grounds around Oasis 21. On the spur of the moment, we decided to set up the speaker and continue releasing God’s presence into the atmosphere through worship. With Rachel on the guitar, and Nathania and Samuell on vocals, the rest of the team reached out to people sitting in the area by praying for them and inviting them to Alpha Course. We concluded the night by praying prophetically over the city and releasing words of blessing over Nagoya. 

Day 6: Travel to Yokohama, Watching Sermon on “The Blessing of Brokenness”

The large majority of the day was spent traveling from Nagoya to Yokohama. Upon arrival, we met up with Shizuko and Ryutaro – a couple from FCBC Yokohama – to have a sumptuous tempura dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship together. 

Together with Pastor Christina, we spent the night watching Senior Pastor Lawrence’s sermon titled “The Blessing of Brokenness”. We were all individually ministered to powerfully, and reminded of God’s goodness in our lives through both seasons of joy and pain; that crushing and breaking is necessary before He is able to use us in greater measure. 

Day 7: Women’s Tea Party Preparations, Giving out of Fliers, Busking at Yokohama Station 

It was a busy day of preparations for the women’s tea party. We reached FCBC Yokohama and quickly divided the work – namely food, games, and jewelry making. We tested out each item and ensured that we were ready for the actual event happening the next day. Church members Shizuko, Michelle and Yee Hoon were also present, and were a great source of help to us. 

Afterwards, we flocked to the streets to give out fliers and invite the public to the event. Despite the generally cold responses received, we persevered and managed to pass out a substantial number of fliers. Thank God for the open doors!

Following that, we spent some time busking outside Yokohama Station. With the large Friday night crowds, it was initially daunting and intimidating. Nonetheless, we recognised that this was an opportunity to spread God’s love and for the Japanese to hear of the name of Jesus. Despite the short duration, we worshipped boldly and gave out a few more fliers to passersby who slowed their steps to listen to us. 

Day 8: Women’s Tea Party, Prayer & Intercession, Personal Sharing & Debrief 

Today was finally the day of the women’s tea party at FCBC Yokohama. We began preparations early and promptly took responsibility of our pre-assigned roles. Soon enough, the food – consisting of kaya waffles, soft-boiled eggs, milo dinosaur, and bak kwa – was ready and presented for guests to eat. Traditional Singapore games such as Snakes & Ladders and Pick Up Sticks were placed on the tables for people to play as well.

Stella had invited her pre-believing friend, Cindy, who had recently moved to Japan, and praise God she came! Other church members (Shizuko, Ryutaro, Michelle, Yee Hoon, Mayuko, Samuell, Shiomi) joined us as well. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the food, and the Japanese had fun learning Singaporean games. The highlight was jewelry making, where the women showcased their creativity and aesthetic talents. Everyone also battled it out in an exciting trivia game, where we all learnt interesting facts about Singapore.

Celine then gave her personal testimony; sharing authentically about the struggles she faced loving herself and yearning after external validation, and how that faded away once she received the greatest Love of all. All in all, it was a blessed time of fun and fellowship. Though no Japanese guests came, this women’s tea party has paved the way for greater possibilities of women-focused outreach and activities.

Later on, Pastor Christina was convicted to lead everyone into a time of prayer and intercession. Through the sharing of how Singapore is a Lion City, she was reminded of Rachel’s vision during the Nagoya Castle prayer walk (refer Day 3). Pastor Christina led us to roar like a lion three times – for our personal lives, for the church and finally, for the nation of Japan – as we claimed God’s love over every situation and circumstance.

Finally, Pastor Christina brought the team to the Yokohama bay area, and what a lovely sight it was to behold. We settled down next to the harbour, and had refreshingly open and honest sharing on how this trip has impacted us individually, and how we have grown from the process. 

Day 9: FCBC Yokohama Service, Birthday Celebration, Homeless Ministry 

Today was our last day of service in Japan. Nathania and Rachel, along with Samuell, led worship during FCBC Yokohama’s service. Midway through, Pastor Christina invited Mana and Yuri to give an amazing sharing of God working in the life of Yuri’s mother, and we prayed and interceded fervently for our loved ones.

Rachel had the privilege of sharing her testimony, testifying to God’s goodness and faithfulness in her family, and how God used a painful season to reveal Himself and draw her close to His side. Pastor Caleb then brought the message – speaking from Acts to talk about “Sharing the Gospel”, and encouraged the church not to be discouraged by rejection when reaching out to others. Pastor Alvin Alonso from the Philippines was present as well, and addressed the congregation briefly.

We had a great time of fellowship over dinner prepared by some of the church members. There was also a mini birthday celebration for the July babies – Nathania and Yu Fun, a FCBC member from Singapore – where they prayed over the young girls and boys of Japan respectively.

After prepping food and clothes, we traveled to the underpass where FCBC Yokohama carries out a monthly homeless ministry. It was heartbreaking to take in the sight of rows of elderly living on the streets. We went in pairs to give out cold soba, and prayed for them as well. It was amazing that many hearts were open to prayer and some of the elderly were even Christians. Overall, it was an eye opening and sobering experience for all of us. 

Day 10: Travel to Tokyo, Flight back to Singapore 

It was a bittersweet farewell as we made our way back to Tokyo from Yokohama. Thank God for the delectable sashimi lunch, and we even managed to squeeze in some time for shopping. Finally, we boarded the plane in the evening and flew back home to Singapore, leaving a part of our hearts in Japan. 

Personal Reflections 

“Every day of the mission trip was exciting, because God was working in new and different ways. God not only used me as a vessel, but also revealed more of His heart to me. One of the highlights for me on this trip was the night when the team busked at the rooftop of Oasis 21. The view captured an astounding view of Nagoya and it felt like we were at the heart of the city. That night, when we sang ‘What a Beautiful Name’ with a group of girls, the group comprised of different nationalities – Singaporeans, Americans, Japanese. Although we were singing in different languages, yet it sounded so beautiful when we lifted up sounds of worship to God. At that moment, I received a glimpse of how worship in heaven would sound like – different languages yet so beautiful, just as how the name of Jesus is beautiful. And this is the heartbeat of God, that the nations will come together and sing of His beautiful, wonderful and powerful name.”
- Rachel 

“Through this trip, I realised that God doesn’t always move in big or powerful ways. God can send down fire from heaven in a mighty display, but He is also in the soft, gentle breeze. I learnt that networking and interacting with various groups of people and simply finding out more about them and their worldviews are crucial for church planting. It was so exciting to hear how God has been moving in the lives of Pastors Caleb and Christina and their church members. Definitely, God loves Japan and the people of Japan. Regardless of nationality or location, God can move powerfully among the people who desire Him and desperately need Him. It rejuvenated my spirit to see how Pastors disciple their members and move in the spirit, and it encouraged me greatly to receive so much from them and my fellow teammates. My heart is for the nation of Japan, and this mission trip has helped me envision what the mission field is like in greater clarity.”
- Celine 

“Prior to the trip, I asked God for two simple things: to show me His heart for missions, and His heart for people. And over the week of serving in Japan, I was blown away by God’s hand working in every moment, and awestruck by His boundless love for us, His children. I learnt that it is often not about the large-scale evangelical harvest events, but about our daily choices of seeking God’s direction, obeying Him and building relationships with His love. It was a joy working and growing together with my teammates, and a privilege to witness and emulate Pastors Caleb and Christina’s heart and fervency in reaching out to the Japanese. God dropped a question repeatedly into my spirit – ‘Do you love the stranger on the street like I do?’. This opened my eyes and spurred me to step forth in boldness, and I was amazed at how God was able to use me as His vessel. I thank God for this opportunity and as my heart now has a greater burden for Japan and her people, I pray that I may go back to serve again in His perfect timing.”
- Nathania

“Thank God for preparing our hearts even before we embarked on this trip through the church and Esther. God was so good to have provided all we needed. Greatly humbled by the Lord, He has provided us with teammates of different talents to bless the people. The Lord, through Pastors Caleb and Christina, also richly blessed us. The love of God was shown through their service to those around us, as we trekked in Nagoya and Yokohama.”
- Karen

“Joining a mission trip may not always entail humanitarian initiatives. And many would ask, why would Japan need help as a developed country? Nonetheless, the absence of manual labour does not make this effort any less meaningful. After all, our purpose is to reach out to the nations with steps of faith – to spread God’s word and love – which is in deficit in Japan – through our small actions. We are there to sow the seeds of salvation though we may not reap the harvest. Though it is hard ground, every soul reached is a rescue mission accomplished. Being a missionary is a journey that requires financial resources, time, passion and energy that I never comprehended. I’m humbled by the first-hand insights to the work done by our Pastors. The dream to plant 10 churches across Japan may seem impossible, however it is because of this enormous burden that we need more people to come forward and heed the Lord’s call. This trip may have ended but it is only the beginning of a spark in each of us, to ponder upon what more we can do to support this LoveJapan commission. And I’m reminded – God moves when we move. ‘And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.’ (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:19)”‬‬‬
- Stella

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