Breaking new ground in the oldest mission field of OMS

Kochi, Japan

By Carl Poynter MFM-US Regional Director

In 1901, several men called by God broke ground in Japan for the Kingdom’s sake. It was “new ground” for these men of God and a new organization called the Oriental Mission Society (OMS). And to think it all began by faith in a storefront in downtown Tokyo over 118 years ago.

Once again, God has given us an opportunity to break “new ground” in our oldest mission field working in the area of Kochi, Japan. Several years ago, a Men for Missions team went to trim trees at the OMS headquarters in Tokyo. One year later, another Men for Missions team returned to build carports for missionary housing and provide evangelism training. It is important for MFMers to be seen not only as earthly builders with trowels and hammers, but also as Kingdom builders with Bibles in hand and testimonies on hearts. As our team met with the pastors during a training event, Pastor Saeki presented us with his vision for a proposed church facility with hopes to begin building in 2019. After sharing the vision with MFM leadership, it was decided to adopt this project. New ground would once again be broken in our oldest field, Japan.

Japan team
From left: Mark Colie, Steve Nickels, Corey Rose, Carl Poynter, and Steve Duhrkoop.
In April 2019, a team of four men arrived in Kochi to prepare the building site for the future church. One night, I couldn’t help reflecting on pioneer missionaries, Charles and Lettie Cowman and Japanese pastor, Juji Nakada. To think 118 years later we were building a church in Japan; another reminder God still uses ordinary men to do extraordinary things for His glory! Although we did accomplish getting the foundation ready, we had several setbacks. For many years I was a project manager and this brought back some stressful memories for me. It was then God reminded me of the scripture from Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” God said, “Don’t allow the brick and mortar of the building to become the focus––the people are the church!” What a reminder that when Jesus walked the earth, His focus was on people and not projects. God never changes. He is still focused on people. Although excitement is overflowing for this wonderful project, I am most encouraged by the people of the church we met. This faithful group of 20-25 believers has been meeting over the past 25 years in the home of the pastor and his wife. We were so graciously greeted as we attended church in their home, and worshipped together through song and praise, followed with a great message by Pastor Saeki. Mrs. Saeki prepared a fellowship dinner together at the end. I am excited to report that the church is already established in Kochi; we are just working on the physical building as we sharpen, disciple, and encourage one another.

Kochi church members
No matter how long the journey gets, no matter how old the trials of life become, God is still breaking “new ground,” not only in Kochi, Japan but in many other regions of the world, and I am happy to say, “also in my own heart.”

Kochi church building
Artist depiction of the completed church.
“Behold, I will do a ‘new thing;’ now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)

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