PrefaceDaniel Jeong and John Kim reviewed the history of each chapter in Japan and wrote a brief history in Japanese. The original is translated into English by Mari Lopez. Only the English version is posted. Some pictures are added by the editor.
Key verse Acts 2:22
Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
1. Pioneering Stage (1988-1989)
God loves the 120 million people who live in Japan. In the1970s, Missionary Isaac Choi of Chicago UBF visited Japan for his business and built an altar of prayer. The late Missionary Samuel Lee was born in 1931 in Osaka Japan. When he went to the U.S. as a missionary in 1977, he was able to do so because he obtained a visa as Japanese citizen. Missionary Samuel Lee had a great interest in the evangelization of Japan, so he sent Missionary Isaac Choi to Japan. On February 20, 1988, Missionary Royal Lee and Missionary Yong Gup Lim (林容甲) held a Sunday worship service in a rented room of 6 tatami mats (10 m2). In the same year, Korea UBF sent Missionaries Moses Koo, John Kim and Daniel Jeong. From then they formed “Mission Division” and “Daily Bread Division.” Activities such as group Bible study, fishing and prayer meetings were regularly held. Missionary Yong Gup Lim fished Mari Yonemoto, who was attending Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. She agreed to study the Bible, but did not want to be invited to worship service and other activities. So she introduced her older sister, who was already Christian and was visiting her parents. She was married to an American. She visited the center, which was a small rented room, and received grace through the Sunday worship service. Because the center was in a wooden structured house, whenever they offered praises or prayers they had to worry about their neighbors. So whenever they prayed they had to do so under blankets.
In 1989, Shepherd Daniel Yoshiba from Chicago UBF visited Japan and the missionaries could rent a condo with 3 rooms with concrete walls under his name and used the place as the center and the common life rooms. Here the missionaries could pray and worship to their hearts’ content. That year, the first Easter worship service and summer Bible conference of Japan UBF were held. Also, the first woman missionary, Su Jon Kyoung, arrived.
2. Expanding Period (1990-1995)
After the foundation of Japan UBF was laid, great interest in the evangelization of Japan was awoken in Korea UBF and each chapter started sending missionaries to Japan. During the year of 1990, 20 missionaries were sent to Japan. Other cities such as Mie, Nagasaki, Kobe, Osaka, Tokai, Chiba, and Kanazawa were pioneered. Missionary John Jun visited Japan and gave new direction to pioneer Waseda University, instead of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, because Waseda University is much larger with over 50,000 students. So we started praying for the pioneering of Waseda University, and for a new center near the university. We visited every single real estate agent’s office near the university. However, none of them agreed to rent a room to foreigners especially for the purpose of a church gathering. Even when Shepherd Stephen Yoshihashi, a native Japanese, joined us, still, every owner rejected our application. Renting a room for the center near the university looked like conquering an impregnable fortress. But the passage of Israelites’ circling around Jericho’s wall for 7 days in obedience to God’s word was given to us. Based on the passage, the missionaries gathered at Waseda University every day and prayed with one heart. Then exactly on the seventh day, a room for the center was given to us near the campus. The owner of the building just saw our faces and agreed to rent the room, even without a co-signer. God heard our prayers and did a great wonder. The missionaries moved in to the center in order to save the rent to make the monthly payments, and they were filled with thanks and joy.
In January 1991, Mari Yonemoto, Stephen Yoshihashi, and Matthew Bai (from Papua New Guinea) were raised as the first shepherds from Japan UBF and were named “Mustard Seed Team.” The second Summer Bible Conference was held as a joint conference between Tokyo UBF and Nagasaki UBF and 40 people participated. Shepherds Stephen Yoshihashi and Mari Yonemoto confessed their sin and received much grace. That year 103 people joined the joint Christmas service held in Tokyo.
On January 17th, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake took place and over 6000 people were killed. At that time 7 missionaries were serving in Kobe, where the damage was the greatest. The Kobe center was the second floor of a 2 story wooden house. The earthquake hit at dawn, and at that time three female missionaries were sleeping in the center. With a big sound, the house collapsed and the electricity went out and it became pitch black. The missionaries were trapped inside of the room and were not able to escape. But the students who lived next door heard their cries for help and rescued them. Sadly two elementary school children who lived on the first floor of the same house were killed. God saved all 7 missionaries in such a disaster.
3. Raising disciples (1996-2000)
During this time, Sendai, Mishima, and Hongo UBF were pioneered. As a preparation for the Bible Academy held in June 1996, the missionaries started offering relay prayers for 24 hours a day for 2 weeks. Then a mysterious work of the Holy Spirit took place. The brothers and sisters who were chosen as testimony sharers confessed their hidden sins with tears. This had never taken place before. Abraham (Heihachiro) Terasaki, David (Takuya) Koizumi, Rebekah (Mika) Nagamasa, and Maria (Yuko) Ando shared their testimonies, became shepherds and formed the Pioneer Team. They prepared for the summer Bible conferences and served other areas of the ministry with a sense of ownership.
In 1997, Shepherd Abraham Terasaki and Missionary Maria established the first house church in Tokyo UBF. They could not have a baby, but after praying for seven years, they were blessed with a daughter Maria. Shepherd Abraham Terasaki is serving faithfully at Tokyo UBF as an Abraham of Japan. In April, Naomi Oi, Makiko Onishi, Yu-kyoung Nin (任裕慶, later Priscilla Ishihara) were raised as shepherdesses and they formed John Team. The summer Bible Conference was held that year in YMCA Tozan-so from August 1 to 4th with the title “Jesus Christ, the love of God.” 119 people participated. Shepherdess Rebekah Nagamasa, Shepherd Abraham Terasaki, and Shepherdess Maria Ando served as the main messengers, and Shepherdess Naomi Oi and Shpherdess Yu-kyeong Nin shared their testimony. Shepherd Joshua Lee who was invited from Gwangju UBF as a guest conducted baptism at this conference.
In 1999, Hiroyuki Ishihara and Mina Takahashi were raised as shepherds and they formed the Second John Team. That August, 131 people participated in the summer Bible conference. The shepherds from the Pioneer Team served the main messages and the shepherds from John Team served the testimonies.
In the year of 2000, God raised Hiroshi Takatori, Yohei Sawasaki, Chie Fukui, Sawako Hadori, Yukiko Minami as new shepherds. Every year new shepherds were raised and they were gradually becoming the core of the ministry. The summer Bible conference was held on August 10-13 with the title “The Cross of forgiveness and salvation” with 131 participants. The shepherds served the messages at the conference and were growing as mature servants of God’s word. Also we registered as an official campus club both at Waseda University and Tokyo University. Now were able to serve at the campus more freely.
4. Trial and restoration (2000 to present)
During this time, Utsunomiiya, Toshima, Shizuoka, Gifu, Suita, Fukuoka, and Fujisawa UBF were pioneered. On March 25, 2000, we held the first wedding ceremony at Tokyo UBF between Missionary Joseph Hong and Shepherdess Maria Ando. But after three months, Missionary Joseph Hong was diagnosed with a terminal stomach cancer. We were greatly shocked to hear that he had only 3-6 months to live. After 1 year, he went to heaven at the age of 29 years old. He willed that his bones be buried in Japan. We purchased a tomb site and buried his bones there. Trials continued. The first woman missionary to Japan, Missionary Ayako Hong (formally Su Jon Kyoung) was diagnosed with Leukemia. She was taken to heaven, leaving little children behind. The trials continued further. In 2001, Japan UBF was divided and more than half of the missionaries and shepherds left the ministry. The remaining leaders were grief-stricken.
In 2002, Japan UBF missionary conference was held for the first time in Japan. Mother Barry from the U.S., Shepherds John Jun, Mark Yang and others from Korea joined the conference and encouraged the missionaries and shepherds who were exhausted from the trials. Missionary John Kim became the Honorary director of Japan UBF and Missionary Daniel Jeong became the director.
In 2008, we could finally purchase the Japan UBF Headquarters building for which we prayed for a long time. It was difficult to purchase a church building in the middle of Tokyo with our limited funds. Land is extremely expensive near Waseda University and we could not find any appropriate building for our purpose. We thought about moving to less expensive Western Tokyo. However, God was not pleased with us wanting to move away from Waseda University because of the difficult situation. We repented of our unbelief and decided to look for a building near Waseda University and started praying with that direction. Then miraculously several possible buildings started showing up. Among them was a building whose owner was near bankruptcy. We entered the negotiation and he agreed to sell it to us with the price of 1 million dollars, although the previously purchased price was 1.6 million dollars. Still, the cost was 1 million dollars. The construction offering money we had saved for nearly 20 years amounted only to 200 thousand dollars. It looked impossible to purchase a property of 1 million dollars with a fund of only 200 thousand dollars. However, God worked another wonder and miracle. Many co-workers offered more than what they could afford. Korea UBF sent us an offering as well. Through many people’s prayers and support, we could purchase the Japan UBF Headquarter building. In this new center, we offered Japan UBF 20th anniversary worship service. We praise the name of the Lord, who performed wonders and miracles.
5. Sending missionaries and the vision of Japan ministry
In 1992, Shepherdess Mari Yonemoto married Shepherd Terry Lopez of Los Angeles UBF and was sent out as a missionary to the U.S. Also, Shepherd Matthew Bai who finished his studies in Japan was sent to his home country Papua New Guinea as the director of PNG UBF.
It is said that Japan is hard to evangelize. It is true that our 30 years of ministry was not easy. Two missionaries passed away at their young age. When many co-workers who had shared our sufferings left the ministry, we felt our sufferings were too much to bear and we were ready to give up. Yet, the living God has been always with us and has performed miracles and wonders and signs.
Japan UBF that started by two missionaries in a small rented room of 6 tatami mats has now grown to 15 chapters with 47 missionaries and 16 shepherds. According to the command in the Bible “Be fruitful and increase in number,” many second generation were born among the missionaries and shepherds. Missionary Daniel Jeong’s family has 4 children, and Missionary David Jun’s family has 7 children. The family of Missionary Mari Yonemoto Lopez sent to Los Angeles has been blessed with 5 children. Now these second generation has grown up and become the main members of Japan UBF.
Many co-workers planted the seed of the gospel with tears. Our prayer is to pioneer all 47 prefectures of Japan by the year 2041. Also, we are praying to send out missionaries to 47 Asian countries. We pray Japan may become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
One word: God performed wonders, miracles, and signs among us.