Kim, Gavin, and Hide in Japan: Off and Running
After an 11 hour and 15 minute flight and crossing the International date line, Pastor Kim, pastoral intern Hide Kawai, and I landed in Tokyo on the afternoon of Friday, April 21. Kim and I have both visited Japan five or more times, but this trip marks Hide’s first ever visit to Japan (t’s not a completely accurate statement as this is Hide’s first visit since moving to Torrance last August)
There are certain things that really characterize a trip to Japan for me. The chimes that you hear constantly if your ear is attuned to them, being greeted by a bow and high pitched female voices, certain scents of tatami and foods, the constant movement of life in Tokyo. Japan truly is an amazing country to visit, but there’s really a single reason why we are here: it’s the people that we keep walking by, standing around, being squeezed next to on the train during rush hour, and eating next to. If there are only 0.3% evangelicals in this country and we’ve passed thousands of people already, you get the picture of our mission: there are needy souls in Japan that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Our first dinner was over tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) with a dear friend, Ian Nagata. The rich miso soup with bits of pork belly was the best miso soup I’ve ever had, but the conversation with Ian was even richer. He moved to Japan over five years ago as a missionary supported by Evergreen San Gabriel Valley with the goal of letting God use him in whatever way He saw fit to further the Gospel. Since then, he’s experienced language school, become a sararīman (salary man), gotten married, and is now focused on writing worship songs that are flowing with beautiful theology, networking with other Christians, and supporting the church he currently attends. Our conversation flowed from biblical counseling, to the state of the Japanese church, to Hide’s internship, to missing LA food. We were so encouraged by this example of a man letting go of the things of this world so that others may experience the wonders of the next with Jesus. You can learn more about Ian at his website.
Our nine day trip is bookended by a two-weekend conference hosted by Tokyo Baptist Church. This international church is one of the few churches in Japan that has moved towards biblical counseling, and they have invited the ministry of Overseas Instruction in Counseling (OIC) to train up counselors for the Christian community in Tokyo. We got to know Joe and Tara Miller, who both serve with OIC. They are unified in Christ, but are a divided house. Joe is a “valley guy” growing up in Granada Hills and graduated from UCLA, while Tara received her Masters in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from USC. Joe also went on to graduate at The Master’s Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with his doctorate in biblical counseling. Over yakitori (grilled skewered chicken), we were able to learn more about their heart for the Japanese people and their ministry to use biblical counseling to spread God’s glory.
Erisa Funada, one of Lighthouse’s past interns, was also present for the conference, and she shared her testimony of how God made His Word come alive through biblical counseling. In this picture are Erisa’s mother and friend, three men from Erisa’s father’s church, and a TEAM missionary named Joel Kaufman.
And look who we were able to connect with: Lighthouse members Jim, Karen, Rachel, and Zachary Kohara! They were visiting family and friends, so on our first full day and their last day in Japan we ate and shared . . . (Guess where) . . . Denny’s!
Well after a full day at the conference, having a wonderful dinner with the Millers, we had to race (think running in the rain and making the cab driver put the pedal to the metal) to the train station to catch our shinkansen (high speed train). We made it with ten minutes to spare.
All aboard! Next stop, Nagoya!
- Pray for Pastor Kim as he teaches two seminars at Christ Bible Institute (CBI). The first seminar will address how to counsel business people and will be held on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. The second seminar will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and will focus on those in the workplace. May the gospel be what people treasure in their workplaces.
- Pray for our meetings with different people from CBI as we plan and set vision for the future.
- Pray for our energy and health (we see a lot of people wearing masks!).