George and Ruth Young have worked in Japan with Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) for almost 30 years. During the past few years, George has developed a friendship with “Tom,” a Shinto priest, and Yoshi Michi Momoee, a young Christian.
George met Tom in a doughnut shop two years ago. Their casual conversation turned into a firm friendship.
Occasionally, Tom has accepted George’s invitation to attend Higashi Kawaguchi Church, part of the Reformed Church in Japan (RCJ). Each time, Tom has warned George that he isn’t “the type to join in.”
But recently, George received a surprising phone call from Tom, who had found out that his father was born in the area where Japan’s first-known missionary lived and worked in the 1500s.
“Tom seems to have been shaken by his discovery that somewhere in his family’s roots there may very well have been a connection with Christianity, which was stamped out by the ruthless persecution that followed,” says George.
Since his discovery, Tom has attended a special evangelistic event at Higashi Kawaguchi Church. His deeper interest in Christianity is encouraging, and George hopes a more complete change in Tom’s life may be coming.
Yoshi Michi Momoee is one Japanese man who’s taken up the torch. A nurseryman and a creator of traditional Japanese gardens, Yoshi Michi recently felt called to become a “tentmaking” evangelist in the RCJ. He now commutes to the Reformed Theological Institute in Tokyo during his off-hours and travels in the opposite direction to a small evangelistic station in Fukushima, two hours north of Tokyo by bullet train.
“The [CRWM Japan team] has always tried to work closely with Japanese pastors and evangelists, sometimes employing them, sometimes working under their direction,” says George. “Missionaries are still very much needed and called for by the church here, but people like Yoshi Michi are many times more effective than people like me.”