Miriam Davis in Japan

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Miriam is one of our link missionaries, working with OMF in Sapporo, Japan.  She works in her local church in evangelism, leading Bible studies and working one to one or in small groups and preaching. She is also involved with the Hokkaido Gospel Broadcast ministry, a Japanese ministry reaching out in evangelism through TV, telephone and radio. 

Miriam writes:

OMF – church planting in Japan

I first went to Japan in 1975 and joined OMF International in 1986, when I moved to Hokkaido, in the north of Japan. The focus of OMF’s ministry in Japan is church planting. Since the early 1950’s over 40 churches have been planted, now mostly under Japanese leadership and part of a nationwide network of churches known as the Japan Evangelical Churches Association (JECA).

Hokuei church
Over the years I have been involved in various ministries but my current focus is Hokuei church and the Hokkaido Gospel Broadcast ministry. Hokuei, by the way, is pronounced Ho (‘hot’ without the t)- coo (as in the exclamation) -aye (the ayes have it) and means ‘Northern Glory!’  Hokuei was the second church to be planted by OMF back in the 1950s and is a strong congregation of about 130 members (average church size in Hokkaido is 30).  
Pastor and Mrs Hanna Matsumoto have led the church since 1995 and my own involvement goes back to 2003. For most of this time I was the only ‘foreigner’ but in 2012 and 2013 the team was joined by Karin Storzinger, a single lady OMF missionary from Germany, and the Pain family with 4 children from UK. Both the Pains and Karin have main ministries independent of Hokuei church (outreach to businessmen and students respectively).

As well as being part of the leadership team, I have input through preaching and small group teaching, following up newcomers to church, doing seeker Bible studies, and post baptism discipleship training. Pastor Matsumoto is principal of Hokkaido Bible Institute, our small local training institute for full time Japanese Christian workers and very busy so it is great to be able to support him in his many responsibilities.  Another focus for me is building relationships in the local community, helping to make the church known and building bridges over which people can walk to church and to Jesus.

Japan’s spiritual need
Let me give you an insight into just one segment of the Japanese population.

  • In Japan (127 million people) the percentage of older people is the highest in the world (23% plus).
  • Japan has the fastest aging population.
  • Japanese live longer than any other people group.

The BBC reported in April 2013, that both the oldest man (116) and the oldest woman (115) were Japanese. Nearly 30 million Japanese are aged 65 or over (UK 10 million) and 8.5 million are over 80 (UK 3 million.)  

Unique statistics but not the only ones. For while the 65 plus population has doubled in the past two decades, crime among the elderly has increased fivefold.  
"Theft used to be a crime of the young, but now it is overwhelmingly a crime of the old," said Hirokazu Shibata, a Hokkaido police official. What are the reasons? If more senior citizens don’t explain the phenomenon, what does? An important part of the explanation lies in the increasing isolation of Japan’s elderly.  One-third of the elderly offenders arrested for theft in Hokkaido saw stealing as a way to attract attention.  Japan’s microscopic birth rate has produced an aging population with no one to care for it, whether children or paid caretakers. Japanese elderly are so starved for companionship that they buy talking dolls they think “are actual grandsons and granddaughters,” according to one manufacturer.

These unique and desperately sad statistics speak to me of the spiritual vacuum in the lives of many and of the reason why I am committed to mission in Japan.  It is spiritually tough – the church is tiny.  A mere 0.2% of the population attends church on an average Sunday in Hokkaido. In my last 4 year term of service (2008-2012), I spent a great deal of time in Bible study with 6 people interested in hearing about the love of Jesus.  4 of them went onto baptism and are growing in faith. That is an average of one new Christian a year.  But that was much more fruit than I had had the privilege to see in previous terms. The church in Japan doesn’t grow in leaps and bounds but through careful discipling of the ones and twos. But what greater privilege can there be than taking the good news of the love of Jesus to the lonely, who are seeking for someone to pay attention to them, to give them purpose for living. Shinto and Buddhism, the traditional religions of Japan don’t satisfy. Jesus who said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ is the only one who can.

My personal goals
These are, first of all, to continue to grow myself as a disciple of Jesus. Then, secondly to be involved in intentional discipleship of others: that is, taking people from wherever they are on their personal journey and helping them to know God, know Jesus, follow faithfully and make him known.

What YOU can do
You can help share God’s love in Japan through your prayers for me. If you would like to receive regular prayer letters or find out how you can support in other ways, please contact the church office. 

Miriam being interviewed by our vicar on returning to Japan - see our 'Talks' page

Miriam’s latest prayer letter:         Prayer news bulletin July 2017

                                                         Prayer news bulletin June 2017

                                                         Prayer news bulletin May 2017

                                                         Prayer news bulletin Apri 2017

                                                         Prayer news bulletin March 2017

                                                           Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 12

                                                         Prayer news bulletin Feb 2017 

                                                   2017-2 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                         Prayer news bulletin Jan 2017

                                                         Prayer news bulletin Nov 2016

                                                         Prayer news bulletin Oct 2016

                                                           Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 10

                                                      2016-10 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                        Prayer news bulletin Aug 2016

                                                       Prayer news bulletin July 2016

                                                           Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 9

                                                      2016-7 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                        Prayer news bulletin June 2016

                                                        Prayer news bulletin April 2016

                                                           Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 8

                                                      2016-4 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                        Prayer news bulletin March 2016

                                                         Prayer news bulletin February 2016

                                                       2016-1 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                         Prayer news bulletin January 2016

                                                       Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 7

                                                         Prayer news bulletin November 2015

                                                             Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 6

                                                        Prayer news bulletin October 2015

                                                             2015-10 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                        Prayer news bulletin September 2015  

                                                             2015-7 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                            Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No. 5

                                                        Prayer news bulletin May 2015

                                                        Prayer news bulletin April 2015 

                                                            2015-4 Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                            Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 4

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Mar 2015

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Feb 2015 

                                                             2015-Jan Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Jan 2015

                                                             Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 3

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Nov 2014

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Oct 2014

                                                       2014-Oct Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Sept 2014

                                                       Prayer news bulletin Aug 2014

                                                            2014-July Hok Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                            Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter No 2

                                                       Prayer news bulletin June 2014

                                                       Prayer news bulletin April 2104

                                                           Hokkaido Gospel Broadcast April letter

                                                       Prayer news bulletin March 2014

                                                           Ippo Ippo Iwate Newsletter no. 1

                                                       Prayer news bulletin February 2014

                                                       Prayer news bulletin January 2014

                                                           Hokkaido Gospel Broadcast letter

                                                       Prayer news bulletin December 2013

                                                       Prayer news bulletin November 2013

                                                       Prayer News Bulletin October 2013

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