We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the prayers and financial support you have been offering to our Lord God. Over the past two years, many churches and ministries have gone through trials. We are being asked to adapt to the ever-changing times and world. As many of us pray, "Lord, restore us to our former state," I also pray that we keep following only God and His will because He Himself is the one who is always doing new things.
◆ Princeton Japanese Church
● Worship: We resumed in-person worship service in September last year, but in response to Omicron's expansion, we returned to online worship again from November to March this year. We are thankful that many people started watching our service on YouTube Live as a result. After resuming in-person worship with the Easter service in April, we have continued to stream online. Since the Princeton Japanese Language School is on Sundays, our service continues to be held on Saturday mornings. Other ministries include online bible study and prayer meetings on Tuesdays, and ECC and JKids on Fridays.
PJC Easter Worship 2022
● ECC (ESL Ministry): We resumed in-person classes at the church last October. Since there is only one teacher, we have only one small class, but students enjoy learning English every Friday morning. After class, I give a short message from the Bible and everyone listens with interest. One person actively asked questions and wanted to read the Bible in both Japanese and English, so I gave her a bilingual Bible. One person went home and shared with her husband that she had heard such and such a Bible story today. As a result, the husband became interested in the Bible, and the couple came to the Easter service together. It was the first time for them set foot in a church! Although the number of people is small, we feel that God is touching each person's heart at ECC.
● JKids (Children's ministry): JKids also resumed in-person meetings last October. We have it on the second and fourth Friday of every month from 4:30-6:00 p.m. About 15 children participate each time. The children have been affected by Corona in many ways. The online classes were very painful for the children who came from Japan for their parents' work, as their English was not good enough. Even after the in-person classes resumed, many of the children and their parents were stressed and mentally depressed as they struggled with language and cultural differences while attending the local school and the Japanese language school on Sundays. For them, JKids is like an oasis of the mind. Most of the children who attend have parents who are not Christians, and it was at JKids that they first learned about Jesus Christ. They experience God’s love while enjoying songs, Bible stories, games, and crafts. The children's hearts are honest and like good soil, they accept the seed of the gospel. They will return to Japan in a few years, and we will continue this important ministry, praying that the seeds sown in their hearts will grow and bear much fruit.
◆ Preaching ministry
Before the pandemic, I had been preaching one to three times a month at Japanese churches without a pastor. Since Corona, online "preaching ministry" has been available in a new way. For two years from April 2020 to the end of March 2022, I have preached for: NY Japanese Church (Scarsdale, NY), Japanese American United Church (NYC, NY), Cornerstone Church Japanese Ministry (Chicago, IL), and Olive Ministry (Lancaster, PA). I also have served as an "Interim Pastor" at Cornerstone Church for one year. Since April of this year, I have been preaching online at Todoroki Church in Tokyo twice a month.
◆ Next Generation Ministries
Since April this year, I have been serving at Japanese Christian Church of New Jersey (Maywood, NJ) for the Next Generation (junior high & high school, college students and singles) every Sunday. There are about 50,000 Japanese living in North Jersey and NYC. However, there are only a few Japanese churches, and each church is a small flock of less than 50 people. Therefore, Japanese Christians need to work together despite of different denominations and groups to share Jesus Christ in Japanese. I think it is unique for a pastor like me to work as a youth staff in another church, but I give thanks and glory to God who is always doing something new behind everything.
◆ About the Kurisu Family
Ayumi leads JKids, music, and women's group at our church. She also teaches piano to Japanese children.
Please pray that the health of our family will be protected, that our financial needs will be met, and that our inner persons will be filled with God's love, joy, and peace always. We sincerely appreciate your prayer. May the Lord God bless you all!