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Pray with the Joyful People of God

A Letter from Thomas Goetz, serving in Japan

Spring 2023

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Dear friends,

Greeting from Sapporo, Japan.

Sapporo is located on Japan’s second-largest island, Hokkaido. People often ask me what the church is up to. In this letter, I would like to outline the recently proposed activities plan for the Hokkaido District for 2023, based on our Fourth Long-term Mission Plan. The Hokkaido District is part of the United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ).

Cherry blossoms: Fragile symbols of renewal and hope. Pexels.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the activities of our churches, mission outposts, and other facilities in the district have gradually resumed through online means. However, many people are becoming fatigued by the prolonged pandemic situation.

We are in the final year of the Fourth Long-term Mission Plan. The district aims to focus on the important aspects of this era while re-evaluating the approach to evangelism from the ground up and considering the future direction of the Hokkaido District based on its core values of sharing God’s love in Christ for humanity.

The long-term mission plan is a 10-year plan that began in 2014 and will end in 2023. The district’s mission is to live as the joyful people of God through worship, renewal, solidarity and peace.

The vision for evangelism is categorized into three areas: renewal, solidarity, and peace. To achieve renewal, the district focuses on enhancing church worship, rich missionary activities by the laity, and creating an inclusive church with all respects with children, young people, the disabled, and the elderly. They also aim to recognize the significance of dedication and giving, learn about the meaning of donations, and support each other.

For solidarity, the district plans to explore the potential of district activities and enhance cooperation, establish various types of cooperation across different regions and churches, and provide specific support to help struggling churches create rich and powerful worship experiences. 

Regarding peace, the district aims to protect democracy and work towards preventing the state’s infringement of people’s freedoms, resist the movement’s acceleration to destroy peace, and oppose the Emperor System and the inevitable totalitarianism that comes with it that can only conflict with democracy and freedom of religion.

The district also plans to prioritize the training and development of new church leaders, promote international cooperation and understanding, and enhance mutual communication and understanding among different churches and religions.

In conclusion, the Hokkaido District aims to embrace the changes brought by the current era and re-evaluate its approach to evangelism by focusing on its cherished values of renewal, solidarity, and peace. We shall work towards enhancing the worship experience, supporting struggling churches, and opposing the state’s infringement of people’s freedoms. The district will also prioritize the development of new church leaders, promote international cooperation and understanding, and enhance communication and mutual understanding among different religions.

Your prayers for Christians in Japan are important. The struggles Japanese Christians face are the same, but given the small numbers, the weight of these struggles has always seemed heavier than what I could carry. They should not have to bear the burden alone. Your prayers can bring strength, comfort, and support. We are not alone in our various journeys. By praying for Japanese Christians, you are helping to uplift them and enable them to continue spreading the light of hope and love here in the faith communities in Hokkaido. Your positive thoughts and intentions can make a real difference in their lives and help them to overcome the challenges they may face with renewed faith and courage.


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