One thing that led us to Iwate was our connection with the Japan Cell-Church Mission Network. Once our role in the relief work ended, we wanted to work through JCMN to support Japanese Christians pastoring or doing church planting on the Iwate coast. Early in 2014, we had the opportunity to begin a series of seminars on the principles of healthy churches called “The 7 Essences of the Church”. We had taken this training while we were in Yamaguchi and now had gotten JCMN to help us host the training here. One of the JCMN speakers comes in from Hong Kong every few months and we gather groups of pastors and church planters for learning, discussion, and networking. This has been a great opportunity for us to connect with and do peer mentoring among our Japanese Christian brothers and sisters.
Another initiative that began to take off in late 2013 was our English classes. Our purpose in teaching these classes was threefold. First, we wanted to serve and support the community that we are ministering in – providing a service and a role that they themselves could identify as valuable. Second, the income from the class fees, while small, helped to supplement our financial support from the US. Third, the classes gave us an opportunity to meet and connect with influential people in the community who we are hoping to introduce to the Gospel.
Another thing we began spending more time on was involvement in community organizations, such as the Boy Scouts and the International Association. Through participating in various activities, we have been able to build additional friendships which we have already seen lead to spiritual conversations. We are hoping that as these relationships deepen further we will see these conversations develop into full-fledged Bible Discovery groups and eventually a cell-based church or churches.