The team was a small one, comprising of six adults and one child – Cassandra, Isaiah, Julie, as well as Ruth and Lionel with their nine year old daughter, Yu Jie. By God’s divine set up, Yoshie decided to join us for the trip. We had our personal Japanese interpreter with us!
We gelled easily with the four sessions of team building prior to travel date. We learnt to be flexible as the programme schedule changed and adjusted along the way. This is an important preparation for mission – to be prepared for changes and do whatever is asked of you. An example of that was when Pastor Caleb asked Julie to preach at two church services in Yokohama and Nagoya.
The team (from left to right) – Cassandra, Julie, Isaiah, Yoshie, Lionel, Yujie, Ruth
Church Services in FCBC Yokohama and Nagoya
Pastor Caleb was preaching through the life of Joseph, and Julie was asked to continue with Genesis 40. Julie weaved her personal testimony of living with diabetes into the key message of this chapter. Every team member submitted their testimony to Pastor Caleb before the trip and was prepared to share it during the trip. Lionel shared his testimony too during the FCBC Yokohama service on 2 June.
Julie shared two lessons on how to remain hopeful when you feel “Imprisoned & Forgotten”.
- Trust in God, not your circumstances
- Serve God wherever you are, with whatever you have
It was an exciting time for the FCBC churches in Japan. Every LoveJapan team reminds them that they have a bigger family in Singapore praying with them. In every way, big or small, each team contributes to the work of planting and sowing, which is required in this season. We marvelled at how Pastors Caleb and Christina stretch themselves among the three growing congregations each week. May the Lord double their anointing in strength and resources to see the fulfilment of FCBC’s vision for Japan!
Minister Together, Meeting Different Needs
Throughout the trip, the team was able to link up personally, share their testimonies, and pray for many church members who had specific needs. God used Ruth and Isaiah to minister to a Japanese family with a special needs child. This was significant as being invited into a Japanese home is something rare in their culture.
Cassandra accompanied Pastor Christina to do a home cleansing and blessing. This was an unplanned part of the mission trip that we were grateful for. We later made the decision to split into two groups, as along the trip God seemed to direct us towards two main areas of work: ministering to the church members and the outreach using English (language partners and Yokohama City University English Club). We also connected well with a community of Singaporeans in Japan who are active in the Yokohama church, encouraging them to rise up and serve as a cell.
With Minori from Yokohama City University, who won the Recitation Contest during the day. As she left early due to work, the team visited her workplace and celebrated with her.
Home visit, where a feast awaited the team!
Connected with Singaporeans based in Japan
English Conversation as an Open Door
Charlotte got us to our first assignment almost immediately upon arrival. We joined her for the bi-monthly English Conversation session. It was an excellent opportunity for Japanese-speaking participants to meet and talk to English-speaking friends. We were asked to plan the whole session, including ice breakers and small group facilitation of topics of interest to the Japanese. We came armed with dumplings. Ruth shared about the Chinese culture of celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival. Conversation flowed freely over tea and dumplings, salted egg chips and other titbits brought over by team members.
Two interesting outcomes developed after this meeting. Charlotte was invited by a Vietnamese student to help her set up a similar English Conversation club in her campus. A newcomer that day connected with Cassandra so well that she came to church the following week for the Kat MacDowell concert!
In the days that followed, team members accompanied Charlotte in her campus outreach and were able to contribute in the University Debate and Speech Contest, linking up with many students through social media.
Prayer Walks in Nagoya
After the first weekend at Yokohama, we left for Nagoya to prepare for Monday evening’s church service. FCBC Nagoya had just started its first service on 6 May. Pastors Caleb and Christina did not waste any time. With our overnight bags in tow, we headed straight for Skywalk Promenade Observatory, which provided a 360-degree view of the city at the highest point in Nagoya. It was a quiet morning and that allowed us to pray in pairs as we declared Isaiah 62 over the city. Isaiah shared his prayer insights and we resonated with the word that there are “castles (spirit of pride and self-sufficiency) in the hearts of the people”, and this city of the Shogun needs the Lord Jesus who will wield a different samurai sword (Word of God) that cuts into the hearts of people and transforms the nation.
Praying over the city of Nagoya
Ruth, Isaiah and Julie visited the University of Commerce and Business, where Goi, a Singaporean and key volunteer at FCBC Yokohama, works as a professor. We interacted with his class on Design Thinking & Innovation, and saw another potential ground for campus outreach. Goi has such an awesome testimony of God’s hand in his life, and how he ended up in Japan as a professor in the university!
We prayer walked around the church’s vicinity and distributed brochures to publicise the English Conversation at Hoshigaoka, where a women’s university was situated. Our eyes widened as lines of students filed past us, seeing the field of harvest! May God’s love and power touch the next generation of Japan! Splitting into two teams, we also prayer walked around Nagoya Castle and Atsutsu Jingu Shrine.
It’s hard to believe that some are homeless in Japan. On Thursday night, we accompanied church staff and volunteers to distribute food and drinks to the homeless, many of whom were familiar to them. Because of their regular visits, most were willing to be prayed for. Although we wondered how this ministry could be meaningful as their needs go beyond food and water, we were reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.” It was heartening to know that several churches participate in this homeless ministry, where they offer a meal and shower facilities.
We came back from this ten-day trip richer for the experience. We saw how God used each of our experiences and gifts to serve. Even our youngest, Yu Jie, was such a blessing, adding fun and joy to the whole team. Thank you Lord!