For 50 years, the members of Aganai Lutheran Church in Japan have been sharing the message that their name proclaims—redemption through Jesus—in a country where it is estimated that only one percent of the people are Christian.
The congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary Oct. 11 with a special worship service, featuring a sermon delivered by Rev. Kermit Habben, who served in Japan for 40 years. A potluck and slideshow followed the service.
“It meant so much for us to have a former missionary couple who had spent more than 25 years in Aganai attend our special event,” says Kaori Egawa, a member at Aganai. “We were encouraged by Pastor Habben’s sermon to renew our commitment to serve the Lord faithfully until we reach our heavenly home. We truly wish to do so in Aganai Church with the help of God.”
More than 145 people attended events throughout the day, including the three other national pastors of the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church (LECC), WELS’ sister church in Japan. “Celebrating 50 years of ministry in Japan was not just a closed event for the members but one of the biggest outreach events we ever had. It was wonderful that many people who have lost close contact responded to our invitation,” says Egawa. “God blessed us with beautiful weather that day and it became a great chance to tell our nonChristian friends and family about our church history and share our faith in Jesus Christ.”
The congregation works hard to spread God’s Word in its community. Egawa says that includes inviting members’ friends and families to the congregation’s café for coffee and snacks as well as offering special children’s events, parenting classes, and lunch parties. The congregation also has Bible classes, Sunday school, and worship in English on Saturday nights and in Japanese on Sundays.
“The appearance of our church building has served as a good tool of outreach,” Egawa adds. “Our building stands out as an ‘authentic’ church in a quiet residential area in Higashikurume. When someone is looking for healing and hope and wanting to know who Jesus Christ is, seeing the church’s pointed roof and the cross becomes an encouragement for them to knock on our doors. I’ve often heard people say that they feel comfort just by looking at it and coming inside to see the wooden interior. As they join our gatherings, they soon find out that it is God’s Word and the people who stay faithful to the gospel that makes a true church!”
Aganai is one of six LECC congregations. The 110-member congregation mostly has been served by WELS missionaries but now has a resident Japanese pastor, one of four for this national church body. The LECC currently has 378 members and no resident missionaries. Says Egawa, “We ask you to continue to keep us in your prayers as we walk with you the narrow road to heaven.”
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Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015
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