On Sunday we had a great excuse to visit a church we have wanted to for a long time… Joe Handley, the president of Asian Access was with us over the weekend, and he too wanted to visit J-House. (Website here). We wanted our children to also visit this church and see God at work in a different context in Japan, so we packed up and drove into Osaka to attend the worship. It is a five- or six story building in the middle of downtown.
J-House is a church founded eleven years ago by Katsuya Iida, a friend of mine from Fuller days when I was his teaching assistant. Bobby Clinton used to often call him “our Gen Xer” student — he was definitely the youngest in the class, and a baby Christian at the time, but Bobby and I both sensed God’s special anointing on his life. I have stayed in touch with him over the years, and it was a joy to help him and his lovely wife Mikiko begin their adoption process with Ai no Kesshin and soon after adopt darling twin boys!
The pastor we saw leading his church of over two hundred members on Sunday still clearly reflects God’s anointing. It was such a joy to experience the worship, led by his wife…
What I loved so much was Katsuya’s practical message and clear application… I have so rarely seen this done in Japan. Several times when he had us turn to a neighbor and share something, I thought how proud Bobby Clinton would be of him (my favorite mantra: expression deepens impression). Besides Katsuya’s mother, I realized we were among the oldest in the room – how refreshing is that in this land with so many small churches filled mostly with seniors.
a) The Bible really is relevant for all of us – even – especially- for young people. HOW we teach it makes a big difference.
b) Discipleship is hard work… seeing the Iidas’ weekly schedule I realized that they (and their staff) pour their lives into nonbelievers and new believers. In Japan, becoming transformed to Christ’s image doesn’t happen naturally (not that it does anywhere; but there is no Christian worldview as a starting point here). It really is a huge commitment to reach young people.
c) People want to follow a compelling vision. J-House has seven or eight “Jesus Soldiers” — staff from North America and other parts of the world who come, live in the church, and work for less than four hundred dollars a month. They’re not in it for the money nor the spacious living quarters (not that most missionaries in Japan are. Smile.) But they are attracted to the vision of this church and young pastor and are doing some neat stuff in reaching out daily to college students across Osaka. I love that.
d) We need to pray for pastors like this. As we were driving away, Eric said, “Sue, we need to be more committed to praying for them. Look at the great things going on; but we know that Satan doesn’t want them there.” We have seen a number of dynamic pastors in Japan who were doing great ministry fall for various reasons; we are committed to praying for and supporting the Iidas as they continue to do monumental work for God’s kingdom here.