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Long-term partnership in Japan

Former CMS workers Graham and Cathy Smith served in Japan for many years, working with the Japanese student Bible group KGK.

It takes years to develop good cross-cultural ministry partnerships, but it is worth investing in such relationships. This can be seen in the longterm relationship between CMS and KGK (キリスト者学生会) in Japan.  

As a university student interested in mission, I met the general secretary of KGK, Nobumitsu Kataoka, in the early 1980s. It was this personal contact which opened up the way for us to become the first CMS missionaries to work with the IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) movement from 1990.  

Having a steady flow of well-trained and well-supported missionaries, committed to long-term service has built respect for CMS as a trustworthy sending agency.  

There was some nervousness in welcoming an Anglican to this interdenominational organisation, but through patience and perseverance, we were graciously welcomed into the Kansai staff team in Japan. CMS missionary Karen (now working with Japanese people in the Middle East), and CMS missionaries Phil and Lyn Miles, joined the team soon after. Since then, CMS has helped contribute to evangelism and training of Japanese university students in a partnership of growing mutual trust.    

A growing partnership 

The partnership has continued with subsequent long-term CMS missionaries joining the KGK team over the years: Kellie Nicholas (2008Jacksons (2008-2020), Hughes (2011), Claphams (2013), Chenny Thie (2015), and the Dethlefs (2017).  

Having a steady flow of well-trained and well-supported missionaries, committed to long-term service has built respect for CMS as a trustworthy sending agency.  

Development of training resources and initiatives such as Bible Expo (Bible Teaching Conference), GAP (Ministry apprenticeship training) and NET (National Training Conference) grew out of this longterm partnership. This has also enabled opportunities for KGK staff to visit Australia for conferences and training.  

Expanding into church involvement 

The solid CMS-KGK partnership has also enabled expansion of CMS involvement into different areas of ministry, such as church planting and high-school ministry.  

CMS missionaries Dave and Beck McIntyre(2015 – ), now serve in the first church we attendedand Matt and Jen Lim (2017 – ) go to a church that was pastored by our first KGK staff team leader. Even though KGK missionary staff work primarily on campuses, they all attend local churches. So there is now a growing network of churches for new Christians to be referred to for follow up. This could only happen through long-term missionary presence.  

Ministry in Australia 

We have been back in Australia for 12 years now, continuing Japanese ministry with the Sydney Japanese Evangelical Church. Our current ministry here in Australia has benefited from the ongoing CMS-KGK partnership. We had the privilege of the former KGK General Secretary, Shigenori Oshima, serving at our church while in Australia in=2011. We were also able to help with  providing cross-cultural training for another KGK staff colleague, Makoto Takeuchi in 2015Each year, several KGK students and staff attend the AFES National Training Event in Canberra and join in our church for mission. One of those participants, Yuya Shimada, did a ministry apprenticeship with Sydney University Evangelical Union (2017), before becoming a KGK staff worker.   

The impact of CMS-KGK longterm ministry partnership continues to grow. Before COVID-19, we would often welcome KGK graduates to our church and refer new Christians to KGK or CMS connected churches when they returned to Japan. This is possible because of the many years of networking. As we adapt to life and ministry amidst COVID-19, we hope that these expressions of the partnership can start again.  

We give great thanks for the long-term CMS-KGK partnership and pray that it might continue to bring gospel growth for many years to come.  

CARE 

CMS is committed to long-term mission in Japan and many other locations. Consider how you can care for  missionaries over the long-term by maintaining personal contact over years and even decades. Click here to learn more about caring for CMS missionaries.