It is our joy to introduce Oiwai Gospel House (御岩居ゴスペルハウス)—Tokyo’s newest retreat house (to open in early 2019). Located on the Tama River in beautiful Ome (Tokyo), Oiwai Gospel House will be a place of rest and renewal as people gain a deeper understanding of the gospel.
Whom will Oiwai serve?
Missionaries, Japanese pastors and their families, and church lay people—anyone who needs renewal through learning about or being reminded of the gospel.
But don’t Christians already know the gospel?
Although we “know” the gospel, we often fail to live as if all its implications are true. For example, how many of us have a hard time obeying God’s command to rest? Our identity is often based on how hard we work (or how hard others think we work), our success in ministry, an immaculate house, or the countless other things that keep us “doing.” But the gospel says our identity is secure in Christ. Our righteousness is determined by what Jesus did, not by what we can accomplish. Understanding and trusting this truth frees us to rest. We believe there is a gospel answer for every challenge, and Oiwai is the place to explore the connection.
Why is it necessary?
Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have
none of it’” (NIV).
We all do this. We act as if our salvation, church, and ministry are based on striving and effort. We run from repentance. We feel guilty if we rest. We don’t trust the finished work of Christ. As a result, joy disappears and we become ineffective in ministry.
What activities will happen at Oiwai?
- In-depth studies into the daily application of the gospel
- Gospel mentoring for individuals, couples, and groups
- Opportunity to spend time alone with God in nature
- Opportunity to practice the Sabbath individually or as a family—to rest
- Retreats for writing worship songs
What is your personal story of renewal?
Our lives changed a few years ago when we gained a fuller understanding of the gospel at a Japan Church Planting Institute conference. Though missionaries, we had a limited understanding of the gospel and how it transforms every area of life. We embarked on an 18-month gospel discipleship course called Sonship.1 Through that experience, we developed a greater understanding of God’s love for us, the extent of his forgiveness, the implications of received righteousness, and more. We discovered that the gospel is much better than we thought; it can and is transforming us, our marriage, our ministry, and Japan.
What led you to start Oiwai Gospel House?
We are passionate about helping others understand and live every day rooted in the truths of the gospel. We anticipate Oiwai being a launching pad for people to live a life embracing all aspects of the gospel.
One experience that planted the seed for Oiwai was with a Japanese pastor’s wife and young daughter. We had invited them to our house for an English homestay. At the end of her stay, the mother shared two things that stuck with us. The first was that she is usually so busy that she rarely has time to enjoy God. Being able to do a simple Bible study and listening activity with us was very meaningful. She was given a fresh vision for how God was going to use her specifically to build his kingdom. The second was that, although we had been talking with her and her husband for over a year about how the gospel impacts daily life, after a few days watching us practice the gospel in our house, our teaching finally made sense.
Where have you already experienced God’s hand at work for Oiwai?
Before we imagined that our dream for Oiwai could materialize, we began seeing miracles. Last summer in Canada, we were blown away when David Noble, who builds churches and pastors’ homes in Japan using Canadian volunteers, assured us that if we bought the land he would build Oiwai for us. We were further encouraged by the welcome we received in the Ome neighborhood and the blessing for our vision from the previous landowner, who will also be the Gospel House’s neighbor. We look forward to participating in what God has in store for Oiwai.
1. For more information about Sonship, see https://serge.org/mentoring/mentored-sonship or contact Jesse and Gypsi directly.
Jesse and Gypsi Town are missionaries in Ome, Tokyo. They’re committed to encouraging and equipping individuals and the church to apply the gospel to every area of life. For more information on Oiwai Gospel House, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org