Land of the Rising SON
The bullet train in Japan is an amazing experience! In May, I rode the Shinkansen (the Japanese bullet train) from Kakagowa through Osaka to Yokohama. My visit had been to connect with Bishop Honda. Honda Sensei is the presiding bishop of the Japanese General Conference and serves as the pastor of Kakogawa Free Methodist Church (FMC).
As I traveled back northward on the train, past the majestic Mt. Fuji, I thought about the history of our denominational work in Japan. As recorded by Free Methodist World Missions (FMWM):
Paul Kakihara, a young man from Japan who attended Greenville College (Illinois), pioneered Free Methodist missions in Japan in 1895. He first evangelized on the island of Awaji, in Osaka Bay. There he joined forces with Teikichi Kawabe who was also preaching on the island. Mr. Kawabe became the leader in laying the foundation for the Japanese Free Methodist Church. The first North American missionaries arrived in 1903. The work spread from the island of Awaji to the great commercial center of Osaka. Mr. Kawabe founded Osaka First FM Church (at one time the largest congregation in the FMC). He began Bible classes that grew into Osaka Theological Seminary. The FMC in Japan became a General Conference in 1961.
Today, Japan is a beautiful, clean, orderly country. Her people are equally impressive, expressing a unique aspect of Father’s character through their culture. But as one of our missionaries has explained, Japan’s society often leaves people very lonely. The vibrant, bright days of faith inspired by missionaries, like Free Methodists Jake and Florence DeShazer, have flickered and grown dim. But partnerships with the Japan FMC bring new hope! We now have six missionaries in the country, with intentions of sending at least two more in the next two to three years. The Pacific Coast Japanese Conference of the FMC-USA and the Brazilian Nikkei Conference are partnering with Japan, opening new doors of opportunity.
Please pray for these efforts. Pray that partnerships will be fruitful and encouraging. Pray for grace to be extended as believers from several countries work together across cultural and language barriers. And pray for new spiritual awakening among more than 90% of the population that does not yet know Jesus.
Learn more here: https://joshuaproject.net/countries/JA.
By Eric, Asia Area Director
A Parable of Mission
He could have died if I would have hesitated.
One of our country leaders from Southeast Asia recently told me a true story of an experience he had early in his ministry. The Father used this experience to underscore the urgency of the mission.
Many of our pastors in Southeast Asia find ways to supplement their income through farming. For this leader, it was no different. He created a large fish pond for farming fish. Concerned about thieves, late one evening he walked out to check the small lake. Looking out as he walked along the lane, he noticed the shape of a man in the shadows. The man was pulling himself up unsteadily. Once he stood, the man, obviously drunk, stumbled backward and fell face-first into the mud and water. Struggling with futility, the man could not get up.
Instantly our leader sprang into action and rushed to the man. With one hand, he lifted the man from the water and with the other splashed water on his face to clear the mud so the man could breathe again. He then helped the man to his feet, cared for him, and helped him safely to his home.
“So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want
to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29, NLT).
As the leader returned to his own home, he felt the Father whisper to him: Can you imagine what would have happened if you would have hesitated? He would have drowned. What you’ve experienced was a parable of the mission I’ve given you (all believers). You must not wait. So many are like this man: lost, stuck, helpless, in the dark, far from home. You may get dirty and be uncomfortable, but remember, life hangs in the balance.
Whose life is hanging in the balance waiting for you to take action and tell them about Jesus?
By Eric, Asia Area Director
What do Spam and Austin have in common?
SPAM, the luncheon meat in a can, has changed over the years. They have increased their variety to include flavors like jalapeno, teriyaki, and hot and spicy. Over the past two decades, Austin, Minnesota, a small city of 25,000 people, has changed right along with the canned meat for which it is famous. Austin is now home to families originating from over 60 countries. These changes have also transformed our Bethlehem Free Methodist Church. Like many other churches, Bethlehem FMC has struggled with an aging congregation and decreasing youth membership. Bethlehem Church began welcoming the ethnic communities by building relationships with ethnic community leaders. From these relationships have come two churches, one composed of refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and the other an Oromo Ethiopian community.
The Burmese church exemplifies community and evangelism. It originated through families from several tribal groups, many transformed by faith in Jesus. This group truly lives life together. They frequently meet in homes for prayer, birthday parties, home dedications, and worship services. During December or Sweet December, many members of our church go caroling house to house singing, sharing the gospel and praying with families. Three years ago, we went to more than 100 homes. We shared with Buddhists, atheists, and other families. From this outreach, God is working to unite our community despite many challenges and obstacles.
As one church, we have intentionally worked to live life together, and that has brought new life to areas of past decline. The first Sunday of the month, we have a combined service, with music and scripture (in multiple languages), and communion followed by a community potluck. Our Wednesday nights are multiethnic and multigenerational. We share knowledge about parenting, teach English as a Second Language (ESL), and educate the youth. Sometimes we do service projects together. We have started a multicultural prayer meeting. It is beautiful to see families working together, eating together, and worshiping God together across culture, language, and generations. We have found that we are stronger despite the differences.
SPAM has diversified its flavors – 13 to be exact. The Bethlehem FMC has diversified our ministry. May your church be blessed as it reaches cross-culturally in your community for the sake of the kingdom of God.
By Dan Mueller
World Missions Prayer Calendar: October
01 Tuesday | Zambia
Praise the Lord for the inaugural of the Provisional General Conference of Zambia. Pray for Bishop-elect, Marko Lilema as he leads the Free Methodist Church in working to bring many Zambians to Christ.
02 Wednesday | Middle East
Pray for the continued ministry of the Noor Center, a training center for refugees. In this area, there are approximately two million refugees, most under the age of 18.
03 Thursday | Myanmar
Pray for the first woman ordained elder in the Myanmar FMC. Ask God to give her courage and opportunity to inspire other women to respond to God’s call to ministry.
04 Friday | Colombia
Pastor John Jairo Leal assisted in the development of the pastoral formation materials and Community Church Planting Manual for Latin America. Pray for God’s guidance in his role as Community Church Planting Coordinator for the Latin America area.
Birthday: John Jairo Leal (International Missionary)
05 Saturday | Spain
There are three FM congregations in the Canary Islands. Pray for the efforts of these congregations to reach those in their communities who do not recognize their need for God.
06 Sunday | The DRC
The Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to be a difficult place. In recent months there have been reports of rebel activity near Deaconess Nundu Hospital. Pray for the FM church and leaders to continue finding ways to provide healthcare and minister to the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of those who have been victims of war and unrest.
07 Monday | SEED
Mia Tribe is a livelihood group in Thessaloniki, Greece. The group brings together Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish women to produce products that are locally and ethically sourced. Pray that these artisans will be trained, loved and empowered to live as one new tribe.
08 Tuesday | Middle East
Pray for a growing team of bi-vocational leaders who are bringing the good news of Jesus back to the region where Jesus once walked.
09 Wednesday | Asia
Mark and Judy Morrison offer pastoral care to the Asia missionary team. They also minister to students at the University of Washington/Bothell. Pray that they will have students who are willing to step up and take leadership roles. Birthday: Mark Morrison
10 Thursday | Bolivia
The Chilean Conference continues to develop work in Bolivia. Pray for the continued development of disciples and leaders, and the expansion of the church into new cities.
11 Friday | Set Free
Pray for leaders in the Set Free Movement around the world to stay centered in Christ and dependent upon Him to make ways through difficult circumstances. Also, pray that they will be strengthened to overcome discouragement.
12 Saturday | Hungary
Pray for the spiritual growth of believers, a commitment to discipleship, and a positive witness that will build trust in the communities where the FMC has a presence.
13 Sunday | Burundi
Pray for the ICCM staff and national coordinators as they provide holistic ministry to more than 1,500 sponsored children.
14 Monday | Latin America
There are several Latin American countries experiencing continued unrest: Haita, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Creative Access Country-X. Pray for the church to be light amid the darkness.
15 Tuesday | Bulgaria
Pastor Lyuben Iliev oversees church planting efforts throughout Bulgaria, Serbia and Northern Macedonia. Ask the Lord to give him wisdom in moving the Balkan region toward becoming a provisional annual conference.
16 Wednesday | Creative Access – C
Pray for favor with officials and those in leadership as Adam and Rebecca continue to live and work in an area of increasing pressure. Birthday: Rebecca
17 Thursday | Middle East
Pray for those ministering to six different refugee camps in the northern region of one country. Due to security reasons, refugees have not been able to return home. Many have lived in tents for five years.
18 Friday | Mali
Praise the Lord for the recently initiated work in this country. Pray for Deborah as she invites people to study the Word and learn more about Jesus.
Several leaders in this district are part of Christian Surfers International (CSI). Pray for these leaders who are providing a bridge from the beach to the local church.
20 Sunday | Taiwan
At General Conference in July, the Taiwan Annual Conference was granted Provisional General Conference status. Please join the Taiwan Free Methodist Church in prayer as they move forward in the process to become a General Conference.
21 Monday | Portugal
The work in Portugal is challenging as people are resistant to the gospel, evidenced by the involvement in idolatry, witchcraft and magic. Pray that these forces of evil will be overcome by the power and love of Jesus Christ.
22 Tuesday | Creative Access – C
Randy and Jessica continue to serve faithfully as teachers in this country even though many have had to leave. Pray for their wisdom and discernment in this stressful situation.
23 Wednesday | Togo
Pray for Pastor Dosseh Takepale as he leads the work in Togo. Kara and Kande in the far north are targeted for church plants. Pray for sustained momentum expanding northward and into all areas of Togo.
24 Thursday | World Conference
Free Methodist bishops and leaders from around the world will gather in São Paulo, Brazil, August 24-26 for the FM World Conference. Pray for these leaders as they communicate and plan together regarding the worldwide impact of the FM Church.
25 Friday | Middle East
Pray for “R,” a female leader in this region. She is helping women to understand their importance in the kingdom of God.
26 Saturday | Paraguay
Pray for effective training and leadership of 60 couples currently being trained to do church planting in three different cities.
27 Sunday | Asia Creative Access – I
Pray for peace and favor for churches and individual Christians as they encounter opposition. Ask the Lord to help the church exhibit God’s love in such a way that many of the lost will believe on the Lord Jesus.
28 Monday | Tanzania
Thom and Sherry Cahill spent two years as VISA missionaries in Kenya. They are preparing to return to Africa, specifically Tanzania, to serve as extended-term missionaries. Pray for wisdom, proper time management, safety in travel, and the ability to share effectively during their period of partnership building.
Birthday: Sherry Cahill
29 Tuesday | Belgium
Eric Casteel assists the Europe area to mentor and equip national pastors and leaders in Belgium. This month he and his wife, Amy, celebrate their 25th anniversary. Pray that God will continue to bless their marriage and their children as they seek to follow God and bring His love to the people in Europe.
Birthday: Eric Casteel (Affiliate Missionary)
30 Wednesday | Middle East
Pray for the spouses of some of the Middle East leaders who are also feeling increased pressure. Pray for their emotional and spiritual strength, their protection, and their faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.
31 Thursday | Asia
Judi joins her husband Mark in providing pastoral care for the missionaries in Asia. Their daughter is pregnant – please pray for a safe and healthy delivery for their tenth grandchild.
Birthday: Judi Morrison