The first Japanese Christian Family Camp in Asia was held Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2011 at Inna Putri Bali Hotel in Bali, Indonesia, with 70 participants, 30 of whom were from Japan, including myself. At the same time last year, the first Missionary Work Forum in Asia was held in Hong Kong where, during prayers for preparation of a second forum, the plan for this Family Camp was proposed to the members, which led to its being held.
There was no need for any qualifications for participants, but I was a little surprised that some people there were from the "Non-church Movement (Mu-Kyokai)." The other 40 participants were mainly from Japanese Christian churches outside Japan, such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and India. What drew my attention concerning the names of these churches are the letters "JCF," as in Jakarta JCF and Singapore JCF. These letters stand for Japanese Christian Fellowship. Although called a "fellowship," they are each formally recognized churches in their respective countries in Asia. Interestingly, no approval of the use of the term "JCF" is required from any denomination or group. Each JCF regards itself as an independent ecumenical church. The Kyodan has currently dispatched a missionary, Matsumoto Akihiro, to the Jakarta JCF in Indonesia. The plan and management of this Family Camp could not have been carried out without the selfless efforts of Matsumoto and the members of the Jakarta JCF.
Bali is famous as a tourist resort. The hotel was filled with tourists, and there was a beautiful beach 50 meters away. When I saw the program of the Family Camp, I realized that I had to discard my image of "camping." With the exception of meal times, we were in some sort of conference from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For the first time in a long time, the term "working bee" came across my mind. The conference was rich in variety, with reports and discussions.
One of the most memorable things for me was a power point presentation on what was called the "Rembrandt Concert." I heard that it was originally planned with the collaboration of a travel agency. The presentation is a practical model of missionary work intended for Japanese non-Christians, who are 99 percent of all Japanese, and provides an opportunity to come in contact with Rembrandt's faith naturally by visiting the actual places depicted in his paintings and listening to a commentary on what is being portrayed. There was a report at the end of the Camp that a young Chinese woman from the church in Shanghai had decided to be baptized. Considering that the only non-Christian participant was led to baptism, I believe that the significance of this camp was enormous.
Needless to say, missionaries have strong relationships with the church that sent them. So far, however, Japanese Christian Churches in Asia have had a weak relationship with other Japanese churches or JCFs in other countries, even if the church itself uses "JCF" in its name. Perhaps due to the geographical situation, I think I was given the vision of the scattered Japanese Christian churches in each country teaming up to cast a net of our Lord Jesus' salvation in Asia. This is because missionaries who have been given such visions are already at work. (Tr. SM)
--Kato Makoto, executive secretary