what to do, what to do, what to do…

If you were to come and work as part of the Pioneers team in Tohoku, what kind of things might you do? What would your day-to-day life look like? There are a number of exciting possibilities for ministry here in coastal Iwate. In addition to some of the ideas below, we would love to talk with you about how something you are passionate about might fit into ministry here.

Language Learning

Because one of our team values is understanding and identifying with Japanese culture, new teammates who are not already proficient in Japanese (below JLPT N3) should expect to spend the majority of their time during their first few years focusing on language study. This would include approximately 10 hours per week of academic work, 10 hours per week of conversation / interaction in a controlled setting, and 10 hours per week of conversation / interaction in a natural setting. The length of time it takes to reach base level proficiency depends on the person’s efforts as well as their individual language learning aptitude.

To read about what a day in the life of a language student might look like, click here.

“Heart Care” Ministry

One of the things that is lacking in the busyness and pressure of Japanese society is the time and / or ability to deal with matters of the heart. One positive way to serve the community, that would present natural opportunities for spiritual conversation, is through various forms of “heart care” ministry. Possibilities for this would include:

  • support groups where people could come and talk openly about their struggles
  • classes for families where kids could learn about healthy ways to deal with the pressures of Japanese society and parents could learn how to raise well-adjusted and well-loved children
  • groups for elderly folks to discuss the difficulties of aging and think more clearly about end of life issues
  • help for those with addictions or other major life obstacles to correct their detrimental patterns and get on the path to rebuilding their life

One of the things this type of ministry would require is a very strong ability in Japanese. A background or experience in counseling would also be helpful, although we already know of a number of programs and resources that could be used as building blocks to guide people toward finding health & wholeness in Jesus Christ.

To read more about what a day in the life of someone doing heart care ministry might look like, click here.

Ministry-Oriented Business

In the last 30 years, Kamaishi has seen a decline as the manufacturing industries, that once formed its core, faced stiffer competition from companies in other parts of the world. Without job prospects, many young people have been forced to search for work in Iwate’s inland corridor or other parts of Japan. There would be significant opportunities for someone with business and entrepreneurial experience to start a small, ministry-oriented enterprise.

Ideally this company would be large enough to employ a number of people, but small enough that the Christian managing it could have some degree of personal relationship with each of the employees. Finding an enterprise that would efficiently utilize local resources in order for the business to cover its operating expenses would be a challenge, but the payoff would be great in opportunities to have close relationships with working-class Japanese people (especially men) – traditionally one of the hardest segments of society to connect with.

To read about what a day in the life of someone running a ministry-oriented business might look like, click here.

Community Activities

One of our values on the Tohoku Team is having churches that are well-integrated into their communities. Part of the way this happens is for outreach to happen in the community instead of in a church building. Many Japanese people enjoy belonging to various clubs or taking classes to learn about various topics. Participating in or hosting these activities can be a great chance to mingle and make new relationships, while at the same time making a positive contribution to the community.

Any sort of skill or hobby – from hiking to flower arranging to video games – can be used to help connect the church with the community. These types of activities would be very natural for those who love to mingle with people, but are also a great way to improve your language skills no matter what your personality.

To read about what a day in the life of someone doing community-based outreach might look like, click here.

Café Ministry

One of the biggest things that people here feel the loss of after the tsunami are places to gather with family, friends, and co-workers. Many of the ways various Christian relief groups have served the community is to provide places for people to gather – everything from a once-a-month gathering at a community meeting room to a full 6-day-a-week business. People can come and enjoy drinks, snacks, and a relaxing atmosphere as they meet others or chat with the staff.

The possibility of operating a café as a business should be carefully considered as this requires a large time commitment and a lot of resources. However, for someone who feels drawn to this type of ministry, there can be a lot of benefits. In addition to the outreach benefit, these locations could also become an important place where various church cells without a place to meet could gather. Presenting a more neutral location would be positive for the perception of these groups in the community as well as helping to lower inhibitions as Japanese Christians invite contacts who show an interest in the Gospel to join the group.

To read about what a day in the life of someone doing café ministry might look like, click here.