EP Ratifies Formation of Japanese Fellowship
The creation of the Assemblies of God Japanese Fellowship, the 22nd Ethnic/Language Fellowship in the U.S. Assemblies of God, was officially ratified by the Executive Presbytery during its June meeting in Springfield, Missouri.
The Japanese Fellowship received its original impetus and vision for formation through Daisuke and Yoriko Yabuki. The first missionaries sent from the Japan Assemblies of God to the United States, the Yabuki's hold dual ordained credentials in both Japan and the United States.
Beginning with a passion to see the more than 500,000 Japanese-speaking Americans experience a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Yabuki's were commissioned by the Japan AG as Foreign Missionaries to America. Through conversations with then Central Assembly of God Pastor Jim Bradford (now AG general secretary) in Springfield, they became part of the officially recognized Central AG staff with a ministry to internationals in the Springfield area.
In 2012, the Yabuki's held the first Midwest Japanese Conference (MJC), using Central AG as the host church. This initial conference was the first step in the process of bringing together Japanese people as well as those with a heart to reach Japanese for training, ministry, fellowship, and to hopefully, one day, form a fellowship.
Over the next several years, the Yabuki's continued to minister locally and reached out to other communities and churches, holding conferences in the Northwest, Hawaii, Kentucky, and New York in addition to the annual MJC.
"Ten churches have stepped forward to petition the Executive Presbytery to form a Japanese Ethic/Language Fellowship," explains Scott Temple, director of AG Ethnic Relations. "That petition includes those churches willing to prayerfully and financially support this new fellowship."
A formation meeting was held in conjunction with this year's MJC, held March 12-13. Church delegates and credentialed ministers including AG missionaries to the Japanese gathered to cast their vote to form a Japanese Fellowship, adopt Articles of Fellowship, and elect officers. Both the general superintendent and the foreign missions director from the Japan AG were on hand to offer prayer and encouragement for this process. They see the global benefit of this new fellowship.
Daisuke Yabuki was elected to serve as the first president of the Japanese Fellowship with Yoriko Yabuki, vice president, both from Springfield, Missouri. Hiro Noda, pastor of Japanese Fellowship Church in Portland, Oregon was elected secretary. Sayaka Ikeda, staff pastor at Calvary Campus Church, Carbondale, Illinois, was elected treasurer. All four officers were born in Japan and are fluent in Japanese. These officers were ratified by the Executive Presbytery in their June meeting.
In a meeting with Temple, Daisuke proclaimed that they would continue to build a strong network of Japanese believers and churches by holding conferences annually across the nation with the Fellowship holding biennial business meetings.
As a recognized fellowship in the AG, the Yabuki's have said that there's already a noticeable difference in how people and churches respond to inquiries. "Before, we were missionaries holding conferences in the hope of one day becoming a fellowship," Yoriko says. "But now, as an official fellowship, people see us in a new light and want to become a part of the fellowship."
The Yabuki's have been connecting with AG World Missionaries who are stateside now and ministering to local churches in the United States. "I want to work with retired missionaries to Japan who are now living in America," Daisuke says, "as they speak Japanese and know the culture."
In addition to being elected as the leaders of the newly formed fellowship, the Yabuki's were recently named by AG Theological Seminary as "alumni of the year."
For more information about the Japanese Fellowship, send an email to: [email protected].