Ministries in Japan

Covenant mission work has been carried out in Japan since 1949. Currently we have 10 missionaries serving in Japan, partnering with ministries of the Covenant Church there. We want to share about these ministries. Please visit the Covenant World Mission information page on Japan for more details on how you can get involved.

Grant and Miho Buchholtz

The Buchholtz fanily is serving at the Tsurumi Covenant Church in Yokohama, Japan. Grant is involved in language study during the first year in Japan. The Buchholtzes are also serving on the newly formed Youth Committee of the Covenant Church , which held their first event around Valentine’s Day, which drew over 50 young adults, 30 being non-Christians. Once a month, they preach at the church – Grant preaches with Miho interpreting, or Miho preaches. They have started a young adult ministry at the church, even though the church is only about 15 people. Their desire is to reach out and connect with younger people in the area. Recently, the Buchholtzes started a Language Cafe that meets weekly for people to practice conversational English. They also hope to have a play group for young mothers and their children. Grant and Miho intend to have a home-stay program for Japanese young people or families to learn English for a week to 10 days in Boston, MA,  in partnership with Highrock Covenant Church.

Grant and Miho are serving in Japan for two years initially, though their goal is to serve long-term. They arrived in Japan in September 2010. Miho is originally from the Yokohama area.

Grant had been scheduled to preach on the Sunday following the earthquake. He had already finished his sermon but felt compelled to create something new that would speak hope into the lives of those who would be at the service. He quickly adapted on Saturday and preached that Sunday. During the Language Cafe on Tuesday, Miho was able to read Psalm 46 (which Grant preached from) with those there, and sang “Dwell” by Hillsong, while also praying for the people who were part of this activity. Most of the participants are not Christians. Grant and Miho are trying to talk to, and help out, those in the community who are fearful and worried about all that is going on.

Gary and Pauline Carlson

The Carlsons have been involved with Pastors Akio and Norkio Kawamura in a revitalization project for the Shonandai Christ Church. This church, which had dwindled to just five members by 2006, is now growing and has a new vision for reaching a residential area in a new part of the city of Fujisawa. This is a community with no church presence. It has been our privilege to be part of this “church on the move”!

Gary has shared preaching responsibilities with the Kawamuras, has taught a mid-week Bible study, and has been involved in leading worship music and developing a worship music team. He has been on a number of boards and committees in the Japan Covenant Church. He has also been teaching two English Bible studies at Odawara Christian Center, a ministry facility of the Japan Covenant Church.

Pauline has played percussion in the worship team, and has been prayer coordinator for the church. She has taught a church-sponsored conversational English class for mothers of preschool children. She has also been chairman of the board of Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ), a 450-student school for missionary children which is supported by our Covenant mission staff in Japan along with five other mission groups.

Together they have worked with the Kawamuras in developing the vision and plan for moving the church to a new community. This includes sharing with the Kawamuras leadership roles in monthly planning meetings with our lay people.

The Carlsons are also co-country coordinators for our Covenant missionary committee in Japan.

Jay and Ellen Haworth

Before going to Japan, Jay and Ellen chose the following as their personal mission statement: “Our total reason for being here is to glorify God by our lives, to learn to be more like Christ and to see Him produce remaining fruit.” This focus continues to guide their ministry as they work in partnership with the Covenant Church of Japan in church planting and evangelism. There are two facets to their ministry: pastoral and administrative. They currently work with two congregations, International Bible Fellowship and Kuki Grace Church, where they partner with Japanese pastors in preaching, evangelism, teaching and discipling new Christians.

As mission treasurer, Jay oversees the financial portion of the Japan missionary team. He also serves on several denominational committees, while Ellen serves on the board of directors of the Christian Academy in Japan. Ellen also serves through hospitality, outreach to women, and several discipleship/mentoring relationships within Kuki Grace Church.

They were originally assigned to work with the International Bible Fellowship, but when worshipers moved to Kuki city, they accompanied them and started a Bible study, which ultimately became Kuki Grace Church. Jay works with a Japanese pastor in leading this church. He returns to International Bible Fellowship to preach each month, but mainly focuses on ministry in Kuki. Specific outreach includes English classes, Bible studies, prayer meetings, counseling, an Alpha course, and worship.

Jay is chairman of the Tokyo District Pastor’s Association and is working with area pastors on continuing education and pastoral supply for Tokyo churches currently without pastors. As Tokyo District chairman, he also serves on the Personnel Committee, which assists churches looking for pastors. Jay also serves on the Evangelism Committee of the Covenant Church of Japan, which as part of their evangelism strategy, is currently working with Christ Covenant Church in Novi, Michigan by sending a Short-Term Missionary couple to work with Japanese in the Novi community. This committee oversees the church planting and evangelism program of the Japan Covenant Church. As mission treasurer, Jay manages the mission’s finances.Working with budgets, purchasing and reports is vitally important in assuring that team needs are taken care of.

Ellen teaches an English class for several women in the community and uses that opportunity to share the Gospel. Building relationships with these women has drawn one of them into the church. The other woman shows great interest in the Lord. Ellen continues to counsel, encourage and befriend a number of women in the church and community. Loneliness and marital problems are often a focus of her counseling and encouragement, so women’s ministry has become an important focus. Ellen also serves on the board of directors of the Christian Academy in Japan. This school was organized to care for the needs of missionary children and has a very important ministry in the missionary community in the Tokyo area. Perhaps Ellen’s most important ministry, however, is her commitment to prayer. She sees prayer as part of her ministry and has committed herself to pray daily for God to care for and build His church.

Tim and Andrea Johnson

As they left Japan in February 2010 for home assignment, they had just completed 20 years of service, most of it in the area call Gunma, about 75 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. There they served as pastors with a cluster of five Covenant churches. Although a majority of their ministry in recent years had been with the Isesaki Church. Andrea also taught part- time at the Gunma Prefectural Womens University. Tim served as chairman of the board for the Covenant Bible camp (Akagi Bible Camp) and also served on the Evangelism Committee for the Covenant Church of Japan.

Andrea taught several children’s English conversation classes at the Isesaki Church. About 50 children were involved in this outreach. She was also Involved in most of the programs of the Isesaki Church (worship, prayer, women’s outreach, Alpha). She also taught part-time at the Gunma Prefectural Women’s University in the English department, teaching classes mostly in writing and research. Additionally, she was involved in home-schooling two of their children.

Tim served as a pastor at both the Isesaki Church and the Shibukawa Church (in a team ministry with colleague, Pastor Kogure). Tim also served on the board of the Akagi Bible Camp and on the Evangelism Committee of the Japan Covenant Church. Tim, who is a gifted musician. led several music ministries, including the Hosanna Music Team, a group that meets monthly and is made up of folks from several of the Covenant churches. He has also been involved in a work called “Gunma Harvest” with the goal of praying for and reaching out to towns and villages in Gunma that still have no church or known Christian presence.

Jim and Heidi Peterson

Jim teaches preaching and church history (pietism) at the Covenant Seminary in Tokyo. He also frequently preaches at a number of different local churches. Jim also serves on staff at Grace Mission Church, a small house church in Tokyo. In addition to this, Jim is part of a homiletics study group for Japanese pastors. In May 2010, he and one other representative of the group, who is a Japanese pastor, traveled to Nashville, TN, to attend the Festival of Homiletics. In church ministries, Jim has had the opportunity to encourage several small and struggling congregations through a ministry of preaching.

Hydi teaches physical education and coaches at the Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ), an international school in Tokyo. She reaches out to many non-Christians through sports; primarily tennis, but also trail running and various other activities. Hydi’s role at CAJ as teacher, coach, and mentor, allows her to work with many kids, some who know Christ and some who do not. On the tennis courts and on the mountain trails, Hydi has had multiple opportunities to share the Good News with those who have never heard it.

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  1. Missionaries and missionary workers are a blessing to the whole world, I wish poeple would give them more credit for the work they do. Great post thank you.

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  2. Hi! I need information about the closest Covenant fellowships near Shibayama Funabashi, Chiba 274 0816 Japan. One of our members is going home to visit her mother for an extended period and is dreading not being with other Christians. (Her family isn’t Christian.) Thanks!

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