Using English conversation online to reach Japanese
An English outreach seeks to connect non-Christians with local churches nationwide
When my wife and I moved from Nagoya to Tokyo in October of 2019, we had no idea that a pandemic awaited us right around the corner. Mustard Seed Christian Church Tokyo planned to hold its first service in March of 2020, right as schools began to close and we started hearing the term “novel coronavirus.”
In reaction to the government’s orders to stay home, we did just that and took our outreach events online. For the purpose of networking, we had already named our church’s English outreach Tokyo English Connect (TEC). We ran events sometimes four to six times per week, inviting participants to our church. TEC began amassing a large number of online members at meetup.com. We ran events sometimes four to six times per week, inviting participants to our church.
We began brainstorming and came up with an idea for English outreach. Was there a way we could connect Christian native English speakers to the people we were trying to reach in Tokyo? Could we mobilize brothers and sisters in Christ from anywhere in the world who were also in lockdown situations to help us reach the lost? Who could run point on the logistics? The advertising? Asking these questions led us to begin a ministry effort that endeavors to introduce non-Christians in Japan to the local church.
Enter Japan English Connect (JEC), which serves as a platform to connect Japanese individuals with English teachers.1 We run online advertisements appealing to those who desire to practice English and make more friends. Participants can take four-week courses with a nonprofessional English-speaking volunteer. Meetings take place once a week on Zoom at a time of the participant’s choosing and last for one hour. Courses begin and end in the same month.
On the other side, we recruit English-speaking Christians we know personally or who receive recommendations from their pastor. Mobilization for mission happens naturally as the believer meets with a Japanese person who has never heard the gospel even once. As we recruit, we try to constantly remind the volunteers that millions of Japanese live and die without a gospel witness. Even though conferences, stats books, and a quick Google search can tell them that the Japanese comprise the second largest unreached people group, meeting one-on-one with a Japanese person can actually show them. We pray that God will use these meetings to raise up more workers for the harvest. God may very well use JEC to inspire more Christians to serve, send, pray, give, and partner long-term.
As much as we also want to mobilize more workers to Japan, JEC primarily exists to connect unevangelized Japanese with local churches. Volunteers receive training on how to invite their conversation partners to a local church. We send them a document with a list of cities and corresponding churches. However, the volunteers often ask us questions such as “Hey, guys, does anyone know of a good church in ______?”
Partner with us
So, I want to ask for your help. Mustard Seed Network has a goal to plant a church in Japan’s 12 largest cities. By God’s grace, six churches now exist within the network. We praise God for this, and we also want to work together with the greater body of Christ represented in Japan. JEC can serve as a way to connect Japanese everywhere with local churches, not just the 12 cities that Mustard Seed Network targets. If your church proclaims God’s Word, we pray people will cross the bridge of JEC to your Sunday services.
We all represent Jesus and strive to make Christ known in Japan. If you’d like for us to add your church to the list of local churches we connect people with, please email me at email@example.com. We would love to partner with you in the gospel for God’s glory.
To find out more about JEC, visit the website at japanenglishconnect.com.
I pray God continues to glorify himself by all of our efforts to share the good news with the many, many around us who have yet to hear. To that end, I pray the Lord blesses us.
1. Though I use the word “Japanese,” non-Japanese participants are also welcome if they live in Japan. We have had several non-Japanese participants already.