Empowering agents of change
Seventy years of serving the missionary community in Japan
Christian Academy in Japan (CAJ) exists to equip students to serve Japan and the world for Christ. This is our vision and the destination to which we navigate. From classes meeting on a converted dairy farm in 1950 to a high-quality Christian education in 2020, CAJ has served the educational needs of the missionary community in Japan by partnering with parents for their children’s education and also serving other families in Japan who desire a Christian education for their children.
CAJ graduates will be serving a world that is a different place from the world their parents entered as young adults. As “third culture kids,” they are uniquely equipped to address the needs of a rapidly changing and diverse society. They leave CAJ intimately understanding a biblically-based worldview and values. Our students are equipped with the understanding that being created in the image of the one living and true God bestows special dignity and value on human beings and mandates us to be God’s agents of creativity, care, and truth in the world. They form deep relationships with their teachers who nurture them in the learning journey, and they develop lifelong friendships with peers that transcend distance and cultures.
Opportunities to serve
To enable students to be prepared to serve, we provide opportunities for them at all grade levels to serve others. For example, elementary school students visit local elder care facilities, singing, reading, and interacting with the elderly residents. Middle school students provide food and other supplies for homeless people and underserved families in Tokyo. High school students participate in a wide variety of service experiences, culminating in a service trip to Northern Thailand for a building project serving a hill tribe school. Our hope is that our students will leave CAJ prepared to be the next generation of missionaries to Japan and beyond . . . though what these graduates do may not fit a traditional definition of missions.
As we equip students to serve Japan and the world for Christ, we know they need skills and tools to meet the needs of the world of today and tomorrow. We desire for our students to demonstrate creative thinking and initiative, enabling them to respond to the problems they will face and to be agents of change in their generation. To this end, we provide education and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in addition to a full range of courses in the arts and humanities.
Next generation leaders
One of the best examples of STEM education is our robotics program. The robotics students align their vision with that of the VEX Robotics program: “Providing the tools to inspire the problem solvers of tomorrow.” They innovate, create, test, and overcome failure, which equips them with skills to become the next generation of leaders. They do this in a highly collaborative environment, with experienced students mentoring students exploring robotics for the first time and high school students mentoring elementary students just beginning their robotics adventure.
Support across Japan
Providing a robust set of opportunities is much more challenging for families who live far from CAJ and are not able to access our labs, classrooms, and the full range of programs available. This is why our School Support Services (SSS) program exists. We understand that parents need support to help their children build the skills they need to reach their potential for learning and serving. Members of SSS receive help in understanding and making appropriate choices in curriculum that matches children’s learning needs and family situations. They also have access to print and online resources they can use. Families can consult with our educational experts to learn more about learning needs, child development, and an array of other issues that may cause parents to feel intimidated by the huge responsibility of educating their children.
SSS can support families who enroll children in local Japanese schools but want to keep up their children’s English learning, as well as those families who are providing all of their children’s education at home. We also provide support to small schools (that are SSS members) to help them build their programs. We provide them with consulting services in topics that could include designing assessments, child safety, facilities management, and teaching strategies. We know that we have learned so much during our 70 years of equipping students, and we want to share what we have learned with other educators who share the same goals.
SSS students are also invited to a variety of on-campus events. Some events target opportunities specifically for the SSS students while other events seek to enfold them into the CAJ Higashi Kurume campus community. For many SSS high school students, the most popular event is spending several days together at CAJ during Spiritual Life Emphasis Week. They participate in special events and activities with their own group while also being immersed in student life on campus.
Prayerful planning for the future
Though CAJ’s influence extends far beyond the boundaries of our campus on the west side of Tokyo, Higashi Kurume has been our hub for seven decades. We have come a long way from the former dairy farm that a small group of foresighted missionaries purchased as our campus in 1950; converted cow barns served as our very first classrooms. With careful stewardship, creative planning, and conscientious maintenance, our buildings and grounds have been well used. We are now in a master planning phase to determine what our campus could look like as we continue to serve the needs of the next generation of students. We are committed to prayerfully addressing how we can most effectively equip students for the decades to come.
Phase one in this overall campus plan begins with our cafeteria. We have served meals to students in this building since 1965, and though it is still a popular place for students to gather, it is showing its years. We have also been seeking space for community events to reach the needs of an increasingly diverse group of families. We have experienced limitations in our PE and music programs due to space constraints, and we need additional space for our school lunch program. The first phase of our building program will be a new multipurpose building that will house a cafeteria, a well-equipped band room, and a multi-use room suitable for lower elementary play and physical education space. After a community survey to suggest names, we have decided to christen this new building “The Ark.” Though this was suggested as an acronym for “arts, recreation, and kitchen”, we believe it will also be a place of refuge and a space we desire to be filled with God’s presence.
After we complete construction of the Ark, we will demolish the existing cafeteria. These two projects will create quite a bit of construction wear on our playing field, so it is a perfect opportunity to do some additional work, extending and resurfacing the field into a FIFA regulation turf field. This will also necessitate repositioning the play equipment and tennis courts.
Though we have conscientiously saved for these projects and will obtain low-interest loans to construct them, we will also be kicking off a fund-raising campaign to be able to complete them in good time for them to be used by our current students: those who attend school on campus and those who come only occasionally through SSS. The Ark and the field will be the beginning of a multi-phase campus improvement program that we believe will benefit students and families for generations to come.
At CAJ, everything we do is with the intent of coming closer to the destination of our vision: “equipping students to serve Japan and the world for Christ.” The way we strive to achieve this vision is through developing servant leadership, cultivating individual excellence, fostering healthy relationships, and building a sense of local and global responsibility. We do this in a Christ-centered, nurturing, diverse, and inspiring learning community that extends even beyond our physical campus.
If you’d like to know more, please check out CAJ’s website: https://www.caj.ac.jp/about/mission.php