The second Toda City Mission Forum was held at Nishikawaguchi Baptist Church (Japan Baptist Convention/Nihon Baputesuto Renmei) on July 31, 2016. Pastors and church members from four churches in Toda City, Saitama Prefecture, gathered in the hope that they can cooperate in evangelizing the city. The focus at this meeting was to build relationships by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of their churches.
Pastor Shinichirō Saitō from Nishikawaguchi Baptist Church spoke from 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, saying: “Jesus’ mission method was to understand each person’s life setting and share the gospel accordingly. . . . Many times we focus too much on how to bring people into the church so they can listen to the sermons. However, Jesus’ command was for us to go out and share the gospel with all people.” He also shared about how the book Radical by David Platt (President of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, USA) challenged him concerning the amount of money, time, and prayer his church has been dedicating to mission work outside of the church. This spring, Nishikawaguchi Baptist Church started hosting cafés and music concerts during the cherry blossom season, hoping to reach local residents who come to see the church’s row of beautiful cherry trees.
Toda Evangelical Free Church (Nihon Fukuin Jiyū Kyōkai) hosts various activities so as to build relationships with the local community: yoga classes, cooking classes, mochi pounding, summer events, and so on. They also schedule special Sundays to focus on domestic and international mission work. Pastor Makoto Yokoyama shared how their number has increased gradually, as they even have welcomed people with overseas backgrounds from areas such as Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia.
Pastor Tomoko Obara of Toda Christ Church (Japan Holiness/Nihon Hōrinesu Kyōdan) noted, “In the narrow sense, mission is experiencing the presence of Jesus Christ through worship and the sacraments. In the broad sense, it is being encouraged through worship to live as a testimony in all areas of our lives. Mission proceeds from the narrow to the broad sense. First of all, we need to prioritize listening to God’s Word at worship services and obeying what it says.”
With church planting as his vision, Pastor Yoshiya Hari from Keisen Christ Church, Saikyō Hope Chapel (Conservative Baptist Association/Hoshu Baputesuto Dōmei), leads services not only in Toda but also Saitama, Gyōda, and Yokohama. Cell groups are a big part of his ministry. Hari stressed the importance of consistency in building up the community.
The forum ended with tea fellowship and an open discussion about “ideal” mission work and the dream of Toda churches working together both to evangelize and help solve some of the issues Toda City struggles with.
Summarized and translated by Hiromi Kiuchi from the Christian Shimbun for Japan Update #72 (Winter 2017), the English newsletter of the Japan Evangelical Association.