Mission work in 2004 Hokkaido, Japan
May this Christmas of 2004 bring the peace and calm and presence of Jesus Christ, the baby born in a manger, so long ago. And to each of you at Global Ministries, may God bless your continued efforts to be a positive force, in an often negative world.
Here is a report of our own efforts to proclaim the Good News, this past year, in our assigned areas of Hokkaido, Japan.
First: Bifuka and Nayoro
In November, I began a series of confirmation classes for two sisters, ages 14 and 16. This is in preparation for their baptism, which will take place in Jan., 2005 at Bifuka Seikyoudan Church. At a private home in Nayoro, the once monthly home worship service has continued throughout the year. This service is usually attended by two families.
Second: Asahikawa Seikyoudan Church
Attendance has remained in range of 5-12 people during 2004. However, during the course of the year, we have been encouraged and have seen a greater willingness of those attending, to take active parts in the order of worship, including; reading of Scripture lessons, providing special music, year round lighting of altar candles, providing altar flowers, and reading and lighting of advent candles during December. Not infrequently, there has been interest in continuing to discuss the sermon topic during post-worship fellowship time. One Sunday, the message was preached by my visiting friend, Rev. Reiji Takahashi. He also joined us for a backyard barbeque party after the service. This fellowship was so rewarding, that the church folks decided to schedule another BBQ later in the year.
In August, I had the happy privilege of officiating at the wedding of my great-niece, from Tokyo. The wedding took place at Asahikawa Seikyoudan Church. At that event, some of the regular church attendees volunteered their help in many of the wedding details, and for most, it was their first time to witness a Christian wedding ceremony.
God has continued to bless me, and my wife Kathleen, with good health. Because of that, I was able to make four trips to the Tokyo area during the year, to take part in a seminar and conferences of the Seikyoudan headquarters group.
In May, I had a short home visit to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. While there, we enjoyed meeting and worshipping with friends at our home church, and participating in special music there.
We also enjoyed contact with the members of our previous church in Honolulu, Hawaii, by the exchange of bulletins, newsletters, photos, etc.
In early December, four people from Asahikawa church attended a concert of Christmas music. It was presented in the Gospel choir style, with reading of the Nativity Story, alternating with the music selections.
During December, the Advent services were well received. We were happy for the willingness of others, to help plan and participate in the Christmas Day service. As was the case last year, Asahikawa Church was the only one to have a service on Christmas morning, which allowed a number of other clergy to join us. This year, attendance was 33 for that service, which was few more than last years’. Though gratifying to see the church so full, this question came to our minds; can this inflated attendance, once a year at Christmas, have any real significance? And our conclusion was this; If even one person who attended that day, will be moved to return to church in the year ahead?–then, YES. This privilege we had of opening God’s church on Christmas Day, was truly worth the effort!
Please continue to pray for this mission. Happy New Year!
Andy and Kathleen Takaya
Andy Takaya serves as a volunteer with the Council on Cooperative Mission in Japan, Kyodan Mitsu Church in Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan. He serves as Pastor.