From the United States to Japan
After the 2nd world war was over, Dr. Calvin B. Hanson from Evangelical Free Church in the United States moved to Japan as a missionary in 1949. In Omiya in Saitama-prefecture, there were many English Bible classes held by chaplains already, since people were craving to learn English and Christianity during the post-war period. Although Japan was lost in the war, many Japanese youngsters had a huge admire towards the US, and it made them passionate about learning English and Western culture from American missionaries. It’s not hard to imagine that missionaries have also learned Japanese and loved Japanese people passionately.
“We want to know more about this God that the Bible talks about!” Dr. Calvin Hanson felt strong passion and desire of youngsters in Japan, so he took over the Bible class from chaplains and launched mission work in Urawa-city in Saitama-prefecture officially. This is how “Evangelical Free church of Japan” was established and this precious work was succeeded by Japanese ministers. Today, there are 65 Evangelical Free Churches in all around Japan. It could be said that God has changed our negative experience of the war into something positive by His grace.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. (Acts 9:31)
From Suburbs into City
We have been focusing on suburbs (bed-towns) as our mission ground. In Tokyo prefecture, there are the Musashino, Tachikawa, and Higashi-Murayama EFCs; however, there has been a long period of no churches in Tokyo’s 23 wards. After investigating many changes occurred in the society for the past few decades, it became clear to us that there is an urgent need for mission work in central Tokyo.
Many young generations are now living in central Tokyo, for example there is a rapid growth in population in Chuoh-ward and Minato-ward.
Many internationally influential people are living in central Tokyo, and being away from their family traditions, they tend to be more open and free to explore their faith.
People are getting more mobilized. There are: youngsters moved into Tokyo from all around Japan for education, returnees who were saved in abroad, and many foreigners in Tokyo who might hear the gospel for the first time.
Many people in Tokyo have been to Sunday School or have attended mission schools in the past.
The average age of church ministers in Japan has reached 65 year old, and there is an urgent need to equip young generation ministers.
・・・We believe NOW is the time to launch Tokyo Central Ministry.
In 2018, finally the ministry began
As EFC of Japan, we have investigated the possibility of starting the Central Tokyo ministry for over 6 years by forming a think tank. And eventually, 5 pastors have agreed to form the committee, and with the support of 12 EFCs, the Tokyo Central City Ministry has launched on April 14th, 2018. Thereafter, nine more churches have been added as support members (a total of 21 supporting EFCs, as of March 2020).
In addition, Akiya Shimomura was chosen as Domestic Missionary in April 2019.
The vision of this ministry is, as per mentioned above, to lead people from every nation to Christ and disciple them as follower of Christ. And eventually, we hope to send them out for God’s mission according to His will. We will establish a church in central Tokyo as a branch of EFC Japan; however, we would like to partner with EFCs and other Christian organizations around the world in order to achieve our vision more effectively.
Recently, we have started partnering with Grace City Church Tokyo, and in 2020 will take part in City to City seminar hosted by them (rescheduled due to the Corona virus). We also visited their original church Redeemer Church in NYC for deputation in April 2019.
With the establishing of the Tokyo Central Church (TCC), the activities of this ministry will come to a close, but we are hoping that not just one but many local churches will be born through this ministry.