Fukushima is hardly a place to celebrate. It’s ground zero for the 311 nuclear disaster. Radiation fears sparked a mass evacuation. Ghost towns abound. But on September 14th, the city became a festive place once again. The body of Christ gathered here for a special reason: our association of Baptist churches turned 50 years old, now with over 3800 members in 54 churches from Tohoku to Tokyo. It’s our year of jubilee! [Photo: our group from Denen Grace]
As part of this 50th Anniversary Celebration, we broke the norms. Instead of the usual slate of speakers, we enjoyed a talent show from our member churches that included gospel music, karate, hula and handbells. All this was set in a Japanese quiz show format in which the audience was invited (with colored paper) to test their knowledge of our churches’ history [see photo at right]. Our own church plant was featured and one of our members even won top prize!
It was humbling to learn that many of our churches trace their roots back to American missionaries who came and planted seeds. Setbacks, language bloopers and cultural missteps? Yes! Plenty! “But God made it grow” (1 Cor 3:6). This group of 500 believers gathered in Fukushima are a testimony to God’s harvest work!