Church in Japan is an all day thing! The Japanese don’t take a break in between services. The Japanese also have a very strong work ethic and are very detail oriented. When they serve the Lord they serve long and they serve hard. They do not come to church to be entertained; they come to hear the preaching and to work for the Lord. The church in Takatsuki is five times the size of the average Japanese church. Takatsuki averages somewhere about a hundred in attendance.

Sunday School Video. Sunday school is for children only and starts at 9:00am. The theme this month is missions! The kids serve by taking up the offering and by joyfully giving to the Lord’s work!  Ruth King taught the children’s church. She explained that missionaries love the Lord and they love other people groups. She told about how there was once a war between the United States and Japan and that the Americans used to hate Japanese people. She explained that because of the love of Jesus Christ, some of the Americans decided not to hate the Japanese and bring the gospel to them. She told the story of George King’s dad and how he was killed in the war against the Japanese. Because of God’s love George King left America to come and tell the Japanese about Jesus Christ. Then she pulled Jenelle and me up to the front and told how we loved Japanese too and that we plan on being missionaries to Japan. After combined children’s Sunday school we divided up into age groups. Jenelle went with the second grade class and I went into the kindergarten class. Jenelle’s class had one student and Jenelle didn’t understand anything that was said since it was in Japanese. They had a workbook and the teacher led the student through the Bible and then did a craft together. In the kindergarten class there were five students and there was a lesson in Japanese and I was completely lost because of the language barrier as well. I was able to play blocks and legos with the kids and practice some of my basic Japanese after the lesson.

After children’s Sunday school was the Sunday morning service. We went down to the main auditorium and joined in singing hymns. Ruth King was very kind and Romanized the Japanese music we were going to sing beforehand and printed it off so we could read it and join in worship. After the singing George introduced us and then pulled us off into another room. He showed us that they are recording the church service from the main auditorium and are rebroadcasting it live to the cafeteria and the upper floors because their attendance has overflowed into those rooms as well. Their auditorium that seats 48 people can no longer handle the crowd. When it comes to church, not having enough room is a good thing! This is missions week at Takatsuki church and the lesson was about biblical missions from the book of Acts. During invitation a Japanese man came forward. He’s not saved yet but two years ago he told his Christian wife he would only drive her to church for a month but he’s continued to drive her to church every Sunday for two years. Today, two years later, he came forward and said that he’s not ready to be saved yet but God is working in his heart. Please pray for Miyazaki-san to be saved.

After that Jenelle went into a combined ladies group and shared her testimony. Ruth translated. Then they all divided up and prayed. While Jenelle was in the ladies group I was in an English Bible study. Our study was in James.

Then we practiced the song that their church (and us apparently) will be singing at the JBBF meeting at Hamamatsu. The Japanese refer to the fellowship meeting as “camp.” It’s a time for them to retreat while the rest of the culture is participating in the Buddhist Obon season.

Video of Takatsuki Church’s Musical Talent Afterwards George convinced some of the ladies to show us the musical gifts God has given them.

Then we had church lunch. First time guests eat free! That’s us!  This seems to be a policy that applies at JBBF churches. We had rice with some kind of brown sauce with pickled mystery items. They call it ham hash. It tasted good. For dessert we had watermelon.

After lunch I sat in on their semiannual church business meeting. I thought this would be interesting to see how the culture’s group emphasis expresses itself in church. A group of men and women directors each with their own ministry responsibilities essentially run the church. If any doctrinal input or spiritual guidance is needed then the pastor speaks up, which rarely is needed. The Japanese are extremely detail oriented in everything that they do. Every director makes a detailed presentation to the group. Every church member receives a detailed report every month in a mailbox with every single thing that has happened in the church. Detailed as in down to a candy bar purchase. It’s a 6 page long paper in fine print. This keeps everyone in the church accountable. They also pass out a questionnaire with every ministry opportunity available in the church. Members will check if they cannot, can, or are willing to do any of the ministries. The directors review every member’s life situation and their ministry abilities and assign the duties through a system of checks and balances. This church is extremely unified and hard working in what they do. The Japanese love working hard together as a group, and being very detail oriented. It’s part of their culture.

After the business meeting we went to an English class at the old church building across town. We joined in and had some simple discussion with people trying to learn English. The people that attend the English class are required to stay for the afternoon service. In the afternoon service DJ was able to give his first sermon and George translated into Japanese for him. After DJ gave his sermon I gave my testimony of how God has saved me and led me in the direction of missions in Japan. Japanese people ask us to come back to Japan as missionaries. These are a spiritually needy people and they know it.

The Takatsuki church property is in prime location and George King can’t stop talking about it. They’re within a stones throw distance of a new interstate that is being built. It will be the main interstate in Japan. Their church will be right off the exit ramp. The church is also up on the side of a hill over a plain, and everyone can see it.

This church is not calling their members to sit and be entertained by big screen projection, funny sermons, or feel good teaching. They are calling people to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ and as a result to work hard for him. This is what the Japanese people need.