My heart is burdened for Okayama and many other areas affected by floods in West Japan. Pastor Ryuji Saito of Kibi Covenant Church in Okayama had shared online about an effort to collect towels and distribute them in flood-affected areas. When we heard about it, we sent them 3 boxes of towels. I heard that, in response to his call, various churches within our Japan Covenant denomination sent a total of 20 boxes of towels. What is required in each emergency varies from situation to situation, but from here on we hope to be prepared to meet the needs that arise.
Below, I would like to share an excerpt of what Pastor Saito wrote for an Evangelical Free Church of Japan newsletter. His article was themed “Missions and loving one another.”
The following two commands of Christ should surely be heeded by all of us who are believers.
First, Christ entrusted us with the Great Commission. As Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
And there was another command that Christ emphasized greatly. The command to love. John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Christ did not talk about which of these two commands we should choose between; rather, he desired that we keep both.
If we sent out many missionaries, built a grand place of worship, and had a huge congregation of attendees — but had no love — then it would be a lifeless church. On the other hand, if we poured much prayer and teamwork into a ministry rooted in love, surely the work would bear much fruit.[omission]
A problem looming over the church — even for the United Church of Christ in Japan which is about 2,000 congregations in number — is that if we continue to fail in reaching out to the next generation, we face an aging Church. It’s said that by 2030, the number of Protestant believers will shrink to one-third. This is not far off from now.
I do not look upon this situation with despair. God’s great and gracious plans always prevail, I believe. By showing us these prospects, perhaps God is challenging us to “love one another.”
If we love one another, we will be able to fulfill the Great Commission. If we can embrace both these commands, will we not be able to contribute to missions both at home and abroad?
I’d like to introduce the Aid Office in Okayama. It’s possible to volunteer with them for even just one day. Please contact them if you are interested:
Okayama Christian Aid Office (Field office)
Okayama-ken, Kurashiki-shi, Hiroe 5-2-25
Hiroeseiyaku Christian Church
Phone number: 080 455 2735