Yesterday, we made a trip to a town a couple of hours drive from Sapporo. Ishiie sensei, one of the Japanese teachers at JLC, lives in Sapporo during the week, but goes back to her home town, Sunagawa, at weekends. She used to attend a large (by Japanese standards) church in Sapporo city, but decided instead that she was more needed at the tiny, struggling church in her home town.
It was a privilege to give her a lift home on Saturday and then join in with the kids clubs she runs at the church. It was a beautiful drive to the “Sandy River Town”, dwindling like most towns in Japan as people leave to find work in the big cities.
She basically does it all single-handedly out of love for the kids. Children come from all ages, primary school up to high school age. There were less than 10 of them but it obviously means a lot to her and to them.
Many of the kids come from difficult family backgrounds; divorced parents, abusive parents… very messy situations. This might be the one place where they are told that they are loved, rather than being told off and treated in a very unloving way, as if they’re just a nuisance.
We did a quiz about the UK, drawing on the Olympics in London this summer. Anna read a Christian kids picture book in English which I attempted to translate into Japanese for them (I’m sure others there could’ve done a much better job!). We also sang some songs with them in English and Japanese. (Many Japanese are keen to learn English, even young children.) It was great to see Ethan playing with the children in Japanese too. We had snacks together, chatted, played games… and before we knew it, it was time to go home.
It was all over so quick and we felt like we really didn’t do much at all.
- Please pray for Ishiie sensei, as she serves these kids, for stamina each week and wisdom to know how to encourage them towards Christ and how to help them when their lives are so messy.
- Pray for many other towns like this all over the country with small struggling churches with few resources and little manpower to do much.
- Pray ultimately for Christ’s name to be honoured through the salvation of the families represented by all these children.