Boom! Did you hear that? Boom! Is that fireworks? Boom! No, its a huge drum.
Today we meet up with Yoshito downtown and took the guys on a tour of a few of the sights in Tokyo. I never get tired of taking first-timers to Japan to the top of a skyscraper and watch their faces as they see the true immensity of Tokyo for the first time.
We had lunch in Harajuku, a cultural hub of Tokyo and the center of fashion. Always a great place to take a group. When you think of weird, quirky Japan this is where alot of that comes from. After walking around Harajuku for a while we took the group to Meiji Shrine and gave them a look at religion in Japan. We just so happened to stumble upon a wedding taking place at the shrine which was a good thing for the guys to see and prompted us to talk and about marriage and family in Japan.
When then headed to Fuchu, where Yoshito is planting and had dinner with his core team. After dinner, several of Yoshito’s church members joined us and Shane encouraged them from Acts 1 not to worry or have anxiety when evangelizing but rather in faith believe the gospel and remember the mission. We all shared some of our doubts and struggles with each other and spent some time in prayer together. It was a great night.
We woke up early to clean, pack up and check out of the guest house that had been our home for the week. We then headed out to Yoshito’s house for a last conversation over breakfast. We discussed the events of the week and how we were feeling about Fuchu, Soma and returning to Japan. After a good discussion we made our way out to the ‘Garage,’ the local bar in Yoshito’s neighbor. This was exciting because the ‘Garage’ is a picture of how Jesus is growing his church in Fuchu. 2 years ago Yoshito and his wife, Ami, began reaching out to their neighbors and sharing the gospel with them. Now their missional community had outgrown their house and the owner of the bar opened the door for them to gather there.
Today we went back into Fuchu to join in a picnic with Pastor Yoshito and his missional community. They brought some not-yet-Christian friends. Drew and Meg were able to bring some buddies, both Christian and non-Christian, to this get-together, as well. It was held in a really beautiful park in this calm, family-friendly part of Tokyo. Yoshi’s vision is to build a people who live lives in community with gospel intentionality. A picnic like this fits with that vision. It was a privilege to spend the day there, chatting with new Japanese friends and reacquainting ourselves with old ones. A young lady named Maki visited Karis Church numerous times this past year and always seemed to enjoy interacting with my daughter, Melia. She now lives in Osaka after one year at Mizzou. We also met her friend Ivy who is a four-year Mizzou student and plans to worship with us when she returns in the fall. It was a relaxing day. It was a reminder of how intentional faithful missionaries live their lives and even experience leisure, and how we need to recapture that vision for our lives back in the states.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to meet up with Yoshito Noguchi and his family. He is a church planter in Fuchu, a beautiful part of Tokyo Metro. He is a native Japanese man. However, he spent time in the U.S. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also has been trained by the Soma guys up in Tacoma. For that reason, I think there is some great overlap in terms of philosophy and methodology with Karis Church. They are planting utilizing a missional community model. The Lord is already blessing them with baptisms already. However, he reemphasized to us just how slow things go in Japan. The Lord has really been teaching him patience lately. I really enjoyed my time with Yoshi.
He gave us a tour of Fuchu. It is beautiful. It’s a part of the city where many young families try to live, making it far easier to build relationships. The “broadway” of Fuchu is stunning, with massive trees and modern, clean shops and restaurants. If I were ever going to live in Japan, that’s where I would want to live. We visited the temple there, as well. It’s huge. It is a reminder of the spiritual desolation of the city. People actually pay money to buy a ticket to get a number that may result in getting a prayer answered. So tragic.
That evening we had some sushi. Everything I had was cooked, although I did try it in years past. I ate plenty of fried shrimp. I even had some french fries. These restaurants are a blast, though. Trays of sushi on conveyor belts cycle past your table. When you see something you want, you grab it. You then pay by the number of small plates in your stack, which is often quite tall.
After sushi, Yoshi took us home. Evy didn’t sleep well last night, so the Groves are dragging a bit today. Please pray for them. We are headed out to the beach and then to see the city of Kamakura, one of the earlier capitals of Japan. I’m blogging from the train. Did I mention I LOVE the trains? Night, night, y’all.
This summer our trip with be focused on Tokyo. Last week I introduced Tokyo and asked you to begin praying with us for this great city. As we countdown towards our trip this May, we want to focus specifically on Tokyo in our prayers each week.
Nishi Tokyo (西東京) or western Tokyo is known as being compromised largely of 26 so-called sleeper cities. Many of the people living in these communities commute to the city center for work, and often work long hours returning home late at night, giving way to the term sleeper town. Western Tokyo is also where the concrete jungle begins to give way. Built along the Tama river and extending all the way to the Okutama mountains, western Tokyo provides a nice get away from the hustle and busy of downtown and a great environment to have a family. However, western Tokyo lacks a strong gospel presence. With at least 5 towns with no churches and just a handful of churches scattered throughout each major city, the almost 5 million people living in western Tokyo have a desperate need to hear the Gospel.
On our trip to Tokyo we will be spending a significant amount of time in western Tokyo. Yoshito Noguchi is a church planter in western Tokyo working with a small team in Fuchu city. We met part of his team on our last trip and will take this trip as an opportunity to meet the rest of his team and learn more about how they are on mission to reach Fuchu with the gospel.
Here’s how you can pray this week.
- Pray for Pastor Yoshito and his team as they work from the ground up to build God’s church.
- Pray for the families living in western Tokyo; that opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel would come their way.
- Pray for more churches to be planted in western Tokyo.