Following the prevention and safety measures against COVID-19, the Maranatha Christian Church (MCC) held the opening service for a new sanctuary in the city of Toyota, Japan, on November 14th, 2020, with the presence of 18 participants, including three visitors. After months without meeting in person, there was a lot of tears due to the Lord’s presence among the brothers who were thirsty for fellowship. The service was also marked by joy at the beginning of this new Work, which was the fruit of the church’s prayer. The Work in Toyota is being supported by two families from the church in Nagoya, who live in Toyota.
The message delivered at the service was “Jesus – the Only Mediator”, following the current theme of the Sunday Bible School (SBS), by deacon Rogerio Fujisawa, responsible for the Nagoya church. The praise was given by worker Nilton Oishi.
The work is a preaching point for members to worship God, inside a hall, in the Community Center of the Brazilian Community, located near the subway station, which holds 30 people with social distancing. With the growth of the church, there is the possibility of changing spaces, according to information from Pastor David Vieira, responsible for the churches in Japan: “However, there are several rooms available. They even have rooms that would fit 200 people with social distancing”. The city of Toyota is located to the southeast of the city Nagoya, and has around 6 thousand Brazilians, according to data from the Ministry of Justice of Japan. It has a large center for the automobile industry and provides many of the existing jobs in the area.
For those who wish to visit or visit the Toyota MCC, services are held on Saturdays at 7:30 pm. The address is Nishimata-67 Kanōchō, Toyota, Aichi 470-0364.
The Work in Japan
Maranatha Christian Church (MCC) has three churches in Japan, located around Bay of Nagoya, which is one of the largest centers in Japan’s auto industry, with a population of more than 11 million people, according to data from the Ministry of Justice of the country. Most members of the church are of Japanese descent, who immigrated to Brazil in the mid-20th century and returned to Japan to work in the auto industry.
Japan has 47 states or prefectures, as they are called. To the north, in the state of Gifu, there is an MCC located south of the city of Gifu. Further south, in the state of Aichi, another MCC in the city of Nagoya. Finally, in the state of Shizuoka, the other MCC in the city of Hamamatsu.
MCC in Gifu
The MCC in the state of Gifu was started in the city of Kakamighara, in 2001, with two families of workers who had been coming, a year ago, carrying out evangelization work in the city. At that time, the church was attended by a deacon and a worker from Nagoya, under the ministry of pastor Gilson Sousa. With the growth of the church, the deacon moved from Nagoya to Gifu. On the day of his move, a Japanese neighbor came to tell him that every Friday night, he turned off all the appliances in the house so that he could put his ear to the wall to hear the praises that were sung in the deacon’s home service. Even without understanding Portuguese, he reported that the praises provided a peace that he did not know. Gifu’s church has about 30 people, including visitors and a family in Nagano state. The person in charge of the church is deacon Fernando Miyashiro. Currently, the church is looking for a hall further south, in the city of Komaki, a central area for church members. It is worth mentioning that this city has approximately three thousand Brazilians (photo from 2016, before the COVID-19 pandemic).
MCC in Nagoya
The church in Nagoya started in 1999, with four families who started meetings on Saturdays, in a community center, with the assistance of Brazilian pastors, Gilson Sousa and Manekazu Kawai. With the need to assist elsewhere, the group stopped meetings in Nagoya. However, there was a prophecy that God would establish a church in Nagoya. After the other churches were established, the group met again at a brother’s house, and when the church grew, they began to meet at a community center in Togo, in a small town south of Nagoya. Since then, God has worked in a wonderful way by strengthening the church with the work of children, women and integration with SBS. Currently, the Nagoya church has about 40 people, including visitors, and a lady in the state of Guma, north of Tokyo. The person in charge of the church is deacon Rogerio Fujisawa, who is also responsible for the new work in the city of Toyota. Nagoya has about 4,000 Brazilians, but now the church is expanding its activities to the south, where the populations of Brazilians are larger (Photo from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic).
MCC in Hamamatsu
The Hamamatsu MCC started with three ladies, Josiane Shirase and two sisters, Tereza and Alessandra Tanaka, who prayed together for the Work of the Holy Spirit to arrive in Japan. After a month of fasting and prayers, a pastor from Brazil called one of the sisters reporting that there was a group of brothers from the MCC congregating in the city of Nagoya. With the assistance of these brothers from Nagoya, the started work in 2000. In 2009, the MCC sanctuary in Hamamatsu was consecrated. At that time, the Lord sustained the church during a major crisis in Japan that collapsed the country’s economy in 2009, followed by an earthquake and devastating tsunami in 2011. As the factories closed, many members returned to Brazil, but others remained in Japan, unemployed and homeless. For a time, they had to live in the homes of brothers in the church who offered shelter. At that time, many Brazilian churches of other denominations closed, however, MCC had paid the rent in advance for a year, so the church managed to survive the crisis. Over time, the church grew again with new conversions. Many have been baptized and are firm in the Work of God. Today, Hamamatsu has about 45 lives, including visitors, and Victor Shirase is the deacon in charge of the church. The city of Hamamatsu has about 9 thousand Brazilians. The church is strategically located to evangelize and reach this population (Photo from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic).
Spiritual needs and challenges
In June 2020, Pastor Gilson Sousa passed the ministry of churches in Japan to Pastor David Vieira, who lives in the United States and is also responsible for the church in Washington DC. For this reason, ministry assistance to churches in Japan is done over the internet, and the pastor may travel to Japan to provide in-person assistance only once or twice a year (after the pandemic). One of Japan’s greatest needs is the survey of local ministries and workers and deacons, according to information provided by Pastor David Vieira.
Another need is to evangelize Japanese people, since there are cultural differences and the services are held in the Portuguese language. “It is a challenge that has to be overcome,” said Pastor David Vieira, who asks members to pray for Japanese Pentecostal pastors to accept the doctrine of the Work. In this way, new Japanese converts will be able to be assisted in their language.