Ministry partners with IMB to virtually mobilize workers for Japan

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Connect 2020 vision trip to Tokyo, Japan. Prayerwalking Olympic venues.In June and July, International Mission Board missionaries in Japan are partnering with Mobilize Japan in a virtual mission trip involving participants from across the U.S.

Mobilize Japan was founded by four Asian American graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – Brit Redfield, Ariel Lee, Ines Chien and Vanessa Lim. The alumni planned a virtual mission trip to allow Christians to serve among the Japanese despite the COVID-19 travel restrictions surrounding the summer Olympics.

The virtual mission trip began on June 1 and continues through the end of July. It includes three events each week – Training Tuesday, Mission Prayer Friday and Outreach Saturday. It’s not too late to sign up.

During Training Tuesdays, missionary speakers will prepare participants to effectively interact within a Japanese cultural context and teach them how to contextualize the gospel. Redfield gives the example of the Japanese word ‘tsumi,’ which means ‘sin,’ but is used to describe criminals or criminal activity. This word doesn’t resonate with the Japanese, Redfield explained, because the majority have not done anything illegal.

IMB missionary Pierce Hite will lead one of the Training Tuesdays. He will focus on equipping Christians to reach Japanese international students. Japanese are generally more open to the gospel while traveling internationally, so this provides Christians in the U.S. and other countries with a tremendous opportunity to share the gospel.

Southern Baptist volunteers talk with a Japanese woman at an outdoor food court in Tokyo, Japan. IMB missionaries planned to use volunteers as part of their ministry strategy for the 2020 Olympics. International spectators will not be able to attend the Olympics, and missionaries have had to amend their ministry plans.

Mission Prayer Fridays will provide attendees with specific ways to pray for Japan and ministries in the country and among Japanese internationally.

Carlton Walker, an IMB missionary in Tokyo, will be leading a Missions Prayer Friday and will share about church partnerships  and how they are church planting in and around a university campus.

Walker said their team focuses on church planting and catalytic work. Mission trip participants will learn about the strategic population segments Walker and IMB missionaries serve, which include the homeless, businessmen, senior adults, young adults and students. Attendees will also pray for Olympic outreach and the urgent need for more missionaries in Japan.

While international travelers are not allowed to travel to Japan during the Olympics, the Mobilize Japan team wanted to provide an outreach element for the virtual mission trip. Outreach Saturdays will include a variety of creative ways participants can directly minister virtually to people in Japan.

IMB missionary Kacie Kubosumi said they plan to host a ‘Virtual Summer Kickoff’ on July 24, the day after the opening ceremony for the Olympics. The event will be Olympic-themed and include games and breakout chat rooms to make connections and build friendships with local students.

“We want to use the ‘Olympic spirit’ as a bridge to share, as well as testimonies of some Christian athletes,” Kubosumi said. “Our biggest hope is to have this online event be a step toward reconnecting again in person and building a community from there, so we are also currently planning a follow-up, in-person event.”

IMB missionaries Daniel and Tara Rice gather with Southern Baptist volunteers for a time of prayer in front of an Olympic venue in Tokyo, Japan.

Kubosumi said they are asking Mobilize Japan participants to invite their Japanese friends to the outreach event.

“We are praying God would use the event to stir up a heart for the lost in Japan,” Kubosumi said. “We are praying they would walk away zealous, compassionate and equipped to pray for and live toward Japanese even now in their current contexts. We are also praying for seeds to be planted in Japanese participants’ hearts, and for connections to be made so we, IMB personnel in Tokyo, can follow up in person.”

Lim, one of the Mobilize Japan founders said, “We pray every day that God will save all of the Japanese we interact with this summer and that God uses the event to bless the ministries of our partners.”

Redfield expressed her appreciation for the support of IMB missionaries.

“We’re so thankful for our ministry partners, especially the IMB because they were in it from the beginning and have been supporting us and praying with us ever since,” she said.

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Caroline Anderson writes for the IMB from Southeast Asia.

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