Our Vision

“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, …” Tim Keller (Redeemer Presbyterian Church; New York City, USA)

vision

Our immediate vision is for you to join us in planting a church in the Chiba CBD.  God willing, this will be a catalyst for more church plants – faithfully teaching th people of Chiba, Tokyo and all Japan about Jesus.

context

As traditional culture wrestles with the influences of globalism, the effects of the economic recession and the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, there is a real window for the hope of the gospel to reach into the darkness of this nation.  95% of the 127 million Japanese have never heard the gospel. Japan needs Jesus!

strategy

Christian brothers and sisters alking beside us in faith as we work with the MTW church planting initative in Chiba prefecture. The strategy is to plant churches in areas experiencing urban renewal that are within commuting distance of Tokyo.  With the support of staff who have been planting churches for the past 20 years, John will fill the role of Team Leader in establishing a thriving, gospel-centred church in the Chiba CBD.

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Japan Needs Jesus: An Interview with John and Rose Evans (April 2011)

An earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear disaster, and now massive aftershocks have rocked the nation that is world renowned for its composure and national pride.

95% of the 127 million Japanese have never heard the gospel.  Only 0.2% of the population attend a Protestant Church on a Sunday.  There are over 100,000 cults in Japan and the Japanese worship over 8000 gods. Japan needs Jesus.

Peter Barber talks to John and Rose Evans who are preparing to go to Japan as church planters towards the end of 2011.

Why go to Japan, what specifically drew you to there, especially since there’s a great need for gospel ministry right here in Australia?

My (John’s) family hosted Japanese college students through university years, Rose was an exchange student in Japan for a year, we have Japanese friends living here in Australia, and as a family have, over the last four years, hosted three young Japanese women for three months at a time who were here studying English. We have really been impacted by the emptiness of their lives, and their need to experience real love, hope, forgiveness and grace.

Can you tell us something about the cause of Christ in Japan?

In 1549, Christianity first came to Japan and by 1581 there were 150 000 converts, including many Samurai. But then over the next 40 years, a dynasty of three shogun rulers aimed to totally wipe out Christianity. They finally succeeded, by crucifying and otherwise martyring all believers. Japan then remained totally closed to the gospel (and indeed the world) for the next three hundred years, during which time Shinto and Buddhist ideals became firmly entrenched in every aspect of Japanese society and culture. It has been difficult for the Japanese to embrace the gospel ever since, because it challenges many of the ingrained taboos and patterns of their culture. Now, with globalism and the recent devastation of disasters, the Japanese are beginning to ask questions about their own culture. It is a new and unique window of opportunity for the gospel amongst a people who have walked in darkness for so long.

Where will you be based and what will your specific roles be?

We will be based in Chiba City which is the capital of Chiba Prefecture(state).  The population of Chiba Cityis about 1 million people.  My (John’s) specific role will be to lead a new church plant in that city.  At the same time, we’re hoping to connect with some campus work happening atChiba University and filter people from there back to the church plant.  The MTW Team have just started to establish an English School in Chiba City in order to have a presence in the city and start making contacts in preparation for the new plant. The MTW team are also currently playing a huge role in disaster relief for North-Eastern Japan, and as part of this are working on a plan for new church plants in these areas. We may also play a supporting role in these plans.

Is there any gospel ministry already happening in Chiba prefecture?

Yes there is. Mission to the World (MTW) of the Presbyterian Church in America has been working in Japan for about 25 years now.  During that time they have established 7 churches (about 1 every 3 years and this includes 1 in Tokyo as well) and a Christian school (Covenant Christian School International).  They have more church plants planned for the next few years including the one we will help lead and establish in Chiba City.  At this point in time, there appears to be no strong evangelical presence in the Chiba CBD.

Where would you say ‘the mission field’ is, given that God is the Lord of all creation and the Lord of mission?

Everywhere! But in our experience, we as Christians struggle to live as though we believe it. We so easily ‘write off’ whole countries and people groups: bikies or Muslims, Japan or Pakistan, our local community even. We seem to find it so hard to partner in ministry beyond our own household. And yet our God is powerful, and he has said that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church, and that people from every tribe and tongue and nation will worship before his throne. We need to rediscover what a privilege it is to be used by God for the salvation of those who walk in darkness.  In the past terms such as ‘mission field’ and ‘overseas service’ have been unhelpful in the cause of mission because they tend to separate us from the rest of the world.  This sort of terminology seems to have created an ‘us/them’ thinking about mission, when the reality is that as soon as someone responds to the gospel they are on mission for Jesus 24/7, anywhere and everywhere.  This means only ever thinking intentionally and globally about gospel mission.

Do you see your planned future ministry as a ‘mission cause’ or as an extension of what you’ve already been engaged in at NorthLinks Presbyterian Church?  Why?

We believe that the ministry we have been involved in at NorthLinks is in essence a mission reaching out to the people of the Northern Gold Coast Region, and beyond, so absolutely!  It’s all about sharing the good news of Jesus.  Our motto at NorthLinks is “Answers for life, Community for the soul, Hope for the future”: that is precisely what we want for the Japanese – we want them to know Jesus and the forgiveness of sins, so their lives are not empty, so they are loved, and so they have the hope of heaven before them.  ‘Missionaries’ are not a charity; the church is a world-wide family, and therefore we are all missionaries working together that He might build His Kingdom through us. Some of us may go and be the staff ‘on the ground’ and others may be working here at home to enable us to be there, but we all work together as the body of Christ.  As someone once said, “Mission starts at the end of the pew and extends to the ends of the earth.”

In what way do you think every person in local churches can be involved in and supportive of mission?

In the past, mission has often been relegated as the responsibility of a passionate few, who generally allocate that part of the local church budget earmarked for missions, and pray for them in church.  We’d love to challenge both churches and individuals to be intentional and focussed in their efforts to partner in mission.  If our local church gets behind a specific mission, our job is not done. We as individuals need also to intentionally partner so that God can use us mightily and that we also might be blessed to be part of the huge work of the gospel in our world.  A family who forgoes one or two take-away meals each month and instead pledges that money for mission, and that prays daily or even once weekly for that same mission, is a family who God will use to build His Kingdom. By being part of something bigger than ourselves God can, and will, change us – sanctify us – and draw us closer to Him to experience more of His greatness as God is glorified and worshipped throughout the world.

Have you ever partnered with others in Christian ministry and what blessing did that bring to you?

Over the past five or so years, we have partnered financially and prayerfully with a kids ministry worker in Sydney, a university worker in Lismore, Bible translators in Indonesia, and aid work in Brazil.  We have prayed for Japan and specifically the MTW church planting team in Chiba, and for several individuals who were imprisoned for their faith.  It has been a real blessing for our family to follow these ministries, experience the power of prayer, and develop a vision for the gospel that is so much bigger than just our own church, and a heart for mission and God’s glory that extends beyond our immediate community.  We have been encouraged through the words and actions of all those we have partnered with, and have gained a glimpse of the awesomeness of our great God.

How can we best pray for you as you make preparations to leave in 2012?

Thank God that He is faithful.  Pray that we will rely on Him as we seek to continue our ministry at NorthLinks whilst preparing to head for Japan later this year.

Thank God that he has given us Hope in Jesus. Pray for the MTW Team and other Christians and churches working in the disaster Zone, that they will share the hope of Jesus clearly with those who are grieving.

Thank God that His Word is powerful. Pray that we will grow in godliness, and be faithful in our daily Bible reading and prayer, both as a family and as individuals during this busy season of life.

Thank God for His gift of the Holy Spirit. Pray that the Spirit will be working in the hearts of the Japanese, as the gospel is proclaimed throughout Japan.  Pray particularly for the renewal of Chiba Cityand its people through the gospel of God’s grace.

Thank God that He allows us the privilege of being used for His glory. Pray that He will raise up willing churches and individuals to partner with us both financially and prayerfully.

Peter Barber is the Queensland State Convenor for Mission Partners, Australia.

John Evans is the minister at NorthLinks Presbyterian Church and is married to Rose.  They have five children: Asher (12), Isabelle (9), Lily (7), Ivy (3) and Jairus (6 months).

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