Cross Cultural Team Learning About Ministry in Japan

Post a Comment » Written on May 16th, 2008     
Filed under: News
TOKYO, JAPAN (May 16, 2008) – The perseverance and faithfulness of Christians in Japan are among the many impressions a group of seven Covenant women are compiling as they visit a number of Evangelical Covenant churches in Japan and visit with Covenant staff doing ministry there.

The group, traveling under the Cross Cultural Opportunities program of Women Ministries, arrived in Tokyo on Sunday and will return to the States on May 19. The women were scheduled to travel today to Uenomura and visit two Gunma Covenant churches.

“The purpose of these trips is to provide women an opportunity to use their unique gifts in a cross cultural ministry while connecting with team members from across the denomination,” states promotional material on the Women Ministries website.

Japan“While I was preparing to leave, I just knew that God had great surprises for us when we got to Japan,” says the contingent’s leader, Toni Schwabe of Forest Lake, Minnesota. “I haven’t been disappointed. It’s been a privilege to pray for churches, missionaries, and the people of Japan.”

Schwabe was contacted two years ago by Ruth Hill, executive minister of Women Ministries, and asked to lead a group to any location in the world she felt lead to go. Having served as a short-term missionary in Japan in 1974, the decision was an easy one for Schwabe.

Other members of the team include Joyce Carver of Pomeroy Covenant Church in Twin Lakes, Iowa, as well as Tucson, Arizona; Judy Duvall of Faith Covenant Church in Wheaton, Illinois; Candi Tepke of Edgebrook Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois; Anna Rice of Faith Covenant Church in St. Petersburg, Florida; Janet Moberg of Elim Mission in Cokato, Minnesota; and Ann Carlson of Hope Covenant Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The group already has met with Covenant missionaries Gary and Pauline Carlson, who greeted them and guided them to Tokorozawa and then by train to Kiyose where they spent the night in a mission house. On Monday the group met with mission staff for a briefing on ministry in Japan and prayed specifically for the Christian Academy in Japan, a school for missionary children in Tokyo that the Covenant helped to start.

Following visits to the Covenant seminary in Tokyo, Meguro church, the Meiji Shrine and a visit at the Carlson home in Fujisawa, the team traveled to the Shonandai Christ Church where the Carlsons work, with a visit later to the Odawara Christian Center for a time of fellowship and prayer.

Thursday, the group traveled to Gunma Prefecture where missionaries Tim and Andrea Johnson work, staying the night at the Akagi Bible Camp.

The remaining itinerary includes a visit with Covenant missionaries Jay and Ellen Haworth in Kuki, worship on Sunday at a Saitama Prefecture church, and departure for home on Monday.

GroupIn a special email report to Covenant News Service later Thursday afternoon, Anna Rice shared reflections from the other six members of the team thus far:
•    Joyce Carver – This is my fifth short-term mission trip and each one surpasses the previous. God always touches our heart in unexpected ways. The focus on this trip was on praying with and for the missionaries, the Japanese pastors and lay people. Praying with the Japanese people has brought me so much closer to them and to the Lord we both serve. (Editor’s note: Joyce had a Japanese student stay in their home for one year under a Rotary International student exchange program. Through this experience she really became enamored with Japanese culture and long had a desire to visit Japan. At the Triennial, Joyce heard Toni’s invitation to join the team to Japan and jumped at the opportunity.)
•    Judy Duvall –  I am overwhelmed by the faithfulness and perseverance of the Japanese Christians and the dedication of the mission team here. (Editor’s note: Judy was in Japan two years ago with her two sons and two Japanese daughters-in-law visiting relatives. She says she enjoyed her experience last time learning about Japanese culture and this time is interested in seeing Japan through a Christian perspective.)
•    Candi Tepke – The chance to meet members and pastors of the Japanese Covenant churches has been an experience I will remember and treasure for a long time. (Editor’s note: During the last Triennial, Candi had the pleasure of hosting two women from Japan in her home for five days. When she heard about this trip to Japan, she was thrilled to be able to see her Japanese sisters once more. She had traveled to Japan for business with her husband previously and is excited to learn about the mission field this time.)
•    Anna Rice – Getting to intimately know the Carlsons, the Husbys, the Johnsons, the Petersons, and Haworths puts a face and story with just names that I have previously heard. I am forever changed in the way I think about Japan. The Japanese people have many of the same struggles that we in the USA have, and also have the same need for a Savior that we do. The Japanese ministers and lay people have the same heart for the lost and are innovative in coming up with ways to meet the people where they are and introduce them to Christ. (Editor’s note: Anna first heard about the team to Japan at the Triennial meeting. Going to Japan seemed like a dream that was beyond reach, but with the encouragement of family and church friends, she decided to pursue this opportunity. She has always had a heart for missions and our missionaries and is very active on the local mission team at her church.)
•    Janet Moberg – I was encouraged by the developments at the seminary and Meguro church, but saddened by the congregations that are struggling. The generosity of the Japanese Christians is always a blessing! (Editor’s note: Janet and her husband, Waldo, were also short-term missionaries to Tokyo in 1984. This was a good opportunity to return to Japan, renew friendships, and see the places where they served.)
•    Ann Carlson – I have been blessed over the years to be able to travel and experience worship in many different countries. Being in Japan confirms the bond we have in Jesus Christ that transcends culture and language. We are truly one in the Lord. (Editor’s note: The opportunity for this trip presented itself at Triennial in Chicago last summer. Ann was able to meet the Japanese women who were traveling in the Central Conference and knew right away that the Holy Spirit was prompting her to go. The bonus, in God’s perfect timing, was her daughter’s recent engagement to a Japanese American and the chance to learn about his culture first-hand.)

The cross cultural experience is offered once each year – except in years when Triennials are held – with next year’s experience planned for China. To learn more, visit Cross Cultural Opportunities.

Editor’s note: the top photo, taken during a visit to the Covenant seminary, shows (from left) Eiko Umeda of Shin Akitsu Covenant Church, Candi Tepke, Janet Moberg, Judy Duvall, Joyce Carver, missionary Pauline Carlson, Anna Rice, Toni Schwabe, Ann Carlson, co-regional director Ronna Husby, and pastor Yuji Sekino, who serves as director of the seminary. The lower photo was taken during a prayer and praise service at the Shonandai Covenant Church.

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