The vast majority of Gunma Prefecture’s 2 million residents live in 12 cities on the flat area which makes up the northwest part of what we call the Kanto plains, a large plain stretching out in all directions from Tokyo bay. However, the majority of our land area here in Gunma is mountainous and is the home for about 50 towns and villages. In the past few years there has been a great deal of political and geographic consolidating of towns and villages all over Japan. Here in Gunma – as of May, 2009 when the last consolidation of municipalities went into effect – we have become 12 cities, 16 towns and 9 villages. But while the boundaries change and the actual number of municipalities decreases, the reality of about 50 towns and villages throughout the mountains of Gunma remains pretty much the same.
Over the past few years we have tried to pray for these areas, most of which have no church or Christian witness. We have done a bit of research, trying to understand where churches presently are located and looking at the areas where a Christian witness may be most absent or lacking. Although we will provide more details in the days to come on this site…..we begin by describing Gunma Harvest in the following ways:
- A geographic vision and prayer to see a church (the body of Christ) worshiping regularly in every city, town and village of Gunma Prefecture. Specifically, we are most interested in going to areas where there presently are no churches or Christian witness.
- Gunma Harvest is not an organization or even a model for church planting. It is simply a desire to pray about how to bring the gospel to every part of Gunma, even the remote and rural areas.
- In the beginning we are simply trying to take a “first step” of visiting various towns and villages. We have limited finances and limited time. Yet, we want to take a first step. How can we serve these towns and villages?
- We believe that as we take a first step God will lead us to the next step.
- At present it is a seed-planting work. Just as “Life-Line” and “Harvest Time” television reach remote areas by air, we hope to reach some of these places by land….on foot.
- In order for the goals of Gunma Harvest to be realized, it will require cooperation from many different people and different churches and denominations. We ourselves can only do a small part. But as we network with others our prayer and vision will grow.
Gunma is famous for its many hotsprings….and so we have laughingly described Gunma Harvest using the acronym “SPA” :
1. Study – Understanding Gunma
Consult CIS (Church Information Service) and collect data about churches / Find what areas have no church / Maps (understand towns and villages, getting data from the Gunma Prefectural Website)
2. Pray – with Understanding
Pray for contacts and connections with local people in unreached areas / Pray for all of Gunma in a regular rotation / Pray for mass media (Life Line and Harvest Time television) / Pray for God’s eyes and heart to see the harvest / Pray for laborers / Pray that God would gather Jesus followers in every location.
3. Act – networking to begin worshiping in new locations
Networking of gifts (traveling pastors, teachers, evangelists, musicians / Exchange thoughts, ideas, experiment / Consider new cooperative arrangements (between denominations, congregations, etc.)