At an October 2023 Zoom meeting with ReFrame staff in North America, Rev. Masao Yamashita shared an update from the Japanese Ministry along with the ongoing challenges that Christians face in Japan.
The update began with gratitude and acknowledgment of the support from individuals and churches along with staff who hosted the virtual gathering. Rev. Masao expressed that despite pandemic disruptions, the ministry managed to maintain its activities through Zoom meetings.
Rev. Masao highlighted memorable events from the past year, including an upcoming Christmas gathering for isolated Christians in Japan. He also noted the cancellation of their summer Bible camp due to continued COVID-19 restrictions,
One significant success story he shared was the reconnection with a former church member, Ms. Eiko, who had been away from the Christian faith for a long time. During the pandemic, Eiko initiated contact with ReFrame's ministry team through email and resumed attending church. Another success was the confession of faith by a university student, emphasizing the impact of ReFrame’s online Bible study by correspondence class.
Rev. Masao mentioned the team’s plans to continue hosting monthly Bible studies starting in the fall. Their goal is to expand these study groups and strengthen their community.
He also highlighted the production of 77 videos in the Church in My Town series aimed at sharing church life and community through video with seekers who want to know more about what goes on in a church before they enter the physical building. These videos have not only allowed seekers to see the churches, but also members of nearby churches who didn't know a lot about their fellow congregations in the Reformed Church of Japan. Rev. Maswo has also begun to update some of these videos due to significant changes like a retired pastor or a new location.
During the Q&A session, questions arose about the spread of Christianity in Japan, particularly among the younger generation. While Rev. Masao acknowledged challenges in reaching young people, he also recognized that some are showing interest, especially those disenchanted with other belief systems that are in Japan.
To close the time, Rev. Masao shared three prayer requests: the upcoming discovery Bible studies this fall, a Christmas meeting with Japanese listeners in December, and prayers for the Japanese ministry team as they search for an eventual successor for Rev. Masao.