by Kawakami Yasushi and Kawakami Masaki
We are both ordained pastors, and in April we were sent to the Japanese-language Protestant Church in Brussels, Belgium. At the end of March 2016, after nine years of service, we resigned from Iida Azumacho Church in Nagano Prefecture and moved our base to Tokyo. Then after approximately a year of preparation, we left for Belgium without incident.
During that year, we visited many churches, mainly in Tokyo, and attended their worship services. In addition, we had the chance to deliver sermons and make appeals, asking for prayers and support for our Belgian mission. We were extremely grateful for the warm welcome given to us at all the churches we visited. When we were apt to lose heart while preparing for a difficult journey, thanks to the people who offered us words of encouragement, we were given the strength to continue our preparations.
Most of the financial needs of overseas mission work are covered by the people in Japan who support this work through donations. At present, nearly 400 individuals provide both spiritual and material support for the Belgian mission to move forward. We are amazed once again that we have been afforded so much help and feel profound gratitude to God and to all those who have helped us.
Since we assumed our post, the church has been moving forward slowly but steadily. This church had been without a full-time pastor for about two-and-a-half years, and as is the tendency in many overseas expatriate churches, members who had been posted in Belgium for a few years were returning to Japan, leading to a decline in membership. Likewise, there was no functioning church council when we arrived, so we have been overcoming these difficulties as we move forward. At the same time, many small joys have been multiplied, such as newcomers being led to the church and members who have been away being led back to the church. At Sunday worship services, it is obviously an irreplaceable joy for Japanese living abroad to worship together and talk to each other in their native language.
Our next challenge is for the church as a whole to identify its mission and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, how each of us will respond in service to that mission. Once again, as we pray earnestly for the guidance of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, our hope is that we will accept the mission God has given this church and all those joined together with it. In addition, buoyed by the prayers and financial assistance for this foreign mission by many churches and the prayers of many sisters and brothers, we believe that God’s works will be revealed here and we will move forward, following the Lord’s guidance.
Finally, we ask that you would pray for the spiritual as well as for the physical health of all those engaged in foreign mission, including ourselves. Prayer is not merely a comfort, but God’s power itself. In the name of the Lord, we pray for your continued support. (Tr. DB)