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Fellowship is an important part of our lives as Jesus followers. It is a place for us to share our joys and sorrows, to encourage and teach one another.
Since the world shut down in 2020 because of the global pandemic, I think we have gained a deeper appreciation for and an awareness of the importance of fellowship. What a joy it has been to be able to fellowship with our brothers and sisters at Komyo Christian Church and throughout the Japan Baptist Conference (JBC).
In my last newsletter, I mentioned the youth who were taking entrance exams. At Komyo Church, we got to celebrate with one young lady who graduated from middle school and passed the entrance exam for the high school she wanted to attend. The group of older ladies at church were faithfully praying for her and loved getting to celebrate her accomplishments. One of the benefits of the fellowship of believers is the building of intergenerational relationships.
March is the end of the school year here; spring vacation is usually the last two weeks of March and often also the first week of April. This gives the youth a chance to gather for a spring camp. Although we have not yet been able to have an overnight camp, we did have a great time of fellowship, one day with the university students and young adults and one day with the junior and senior high students. Since we have students in both groups in Osaka, I got to attend both days. This year at the youth gathering the students spent time designing a T-shirt together. It has been over five years since the last design was made. The other adults and I sat back and watched the students work together, talking over designs, type of fabric, and color of fabric for the shirts. I am looking forward to seeing what they came up with! The youth also are learning the importance of fellowshipping with their peers for encouragement and fun.
Yuri and I had the privilege of leading a ladies’ seminar at one of the churches I served fresh out of language school. It was their first experience with a seminar. We enjoyed time catching up and studying God’s Word together. We were encouraged by their vulnerability with and kindness toward each other. What a joy to fellowship with the ladies throughout the JBC as we learn from each other about walking with Jesus daily.
What a delight it was to fellowship with the missionary community at our Kansai Christian Women’s Conference in March! It was truly a privilege to teach from God’s Word and spend time together in fellowship and prayer. For some of the women, this is one of the few times they get to worship in English during the year. On the feedback forms, many women were grateful for and asked for more fellowship/small group time. Additionally, once a month several of these ladies and I gather for a time of fellowship. We call it “Bagel Breakfast” because we first started the meeting in a bagel shop. Even though that shop has closed, and we have had to move twice since then, we still have bagel breakfast once a month! Fellowship in one’s heart language is also of utmost importance.
The first week of May, the JBC held its 60th annual “Deeper Life” conference. What fun to meet with our brothers and sisters from around the region as we fellowshipped, worshipped, and learned together. The speaker is the head of the only Christian university in Japan and encouraged us through his teaching and by fellowshipping with us. The theme was “Abiding in the Lord Together.” One of the statements he made that has stuck with me is, “We abide in the fellowship of the Trinity. There is no greater grace.”
Thank you for your prayers and support of me and the ministry in Japan. I pray that you also are experiencing the great grace of fellowship within your church, with family and friends of all ages, with Jesus followers around your neighborhood and city, with people who speak the same language, and with people who do not.