The Lord has called His Church to be light in the darkness of the world and to be a city on a hill that shows forth the glory and hope of the gospel. Though the church in Japan is a tiny minority, with the Protestant church-going population at about 0.2%, there are young Christians with a passion to reach their nation and their generation. We believe that the future is bright as we help to train such young people in the ministries of CBI Japan. The model that the Lord has inspired at CBI Japan is a mixture of evangelistic outreach, church planting, and leadership training.
Blessed with Growth
We are still a relatively small and young ministry, but the Lord has poured out tremendous blessings upon CBI Japan since our inception in 2004. Christ Bible Seminary is in its 5th year and now has seventeen students enrolled in Master’s degree programs and more than thirty students studying part time, making CBS one of the larger seminaries in Japan. Our Heart & Soul outreach events for young people have drawn from 100 to 200 people quarterly as we talk about gospel hope through topics that speak to the longings of young people. One and a half years ago CBI Japan launched All Nations Fellowship, a church-planting ministry. At our first campus in Nisshin our services range from 60 to upwards of 90 people. That is already two to three times larger than the average church size in Japan. Our largest service, held after a Saturday concert outreach, was 140 people.
For the past three years we have been praying that the Lord would provide a permanent home for CBI Japan. We currently rent space in Nissin city that by God’s grace we have now outgrown. In addition the Lord has given us a conviction to plunge into the darkness and opportunity of the much larger city of Nagoya. Nagoya is not only a central location for gathering Christians in Central Japan; it is an economic, educational, social, and cultural hub for young people.
Our vision is threefold. First, to provide theological education and training for current and future Christian leaders in city-center Nagoya. Accessibility by public transportation is crucial for this. Second, to plant churches in the heart of centers of youth culture where some of the least reached and most hurting populations gather. Third, to partner with other youth-focused ministries to help establish a “safe space” for young people to gather, learn, talk, listen, grow, and heal within a gospel-centered and relationship-based outreach environment.
This third component is a new ministry we hope to establish and call “Heart & Soul Café.” It would be a “safe space” where young people could come to drink coffee, build friendships, receive tutoring, play video games, sing karaoke, get counseling, study the Bible, and simply hang out. Though Japanese society and especially the cities are dangerous places for young people physically, emotionally, relationally, sexually, and spiritually, we hope that Heart & Soul Café will be a place where young people can be safe and will find their ultimate physical, emotional, relational, sexual, and spiritual “safety” in relationship with Jesus Christ. This ministry would be staffed by a team of young leaders from CBI Japan and other ministries in Nagoya.
Looking Farther Ahead
The Lord has also given us a vision to pursue in the next three to five years the establishment of an undergraduate college. This would perfectly fill the gap between youth outreach and seminary training for future leaders of the church in Japan. We envision two initial programs including a Christian Ministry degree and a Business English or English Communications program. This would allow for four years of relational outreach to non-Christian students, four years of discipleship of Christian students, as well as opportunities for Christian students to reach out to non-Christian classmates in a supportive environment. We believe that there is no better opportunity for evangelism and discipleship of young people in all of Japan!