Outreach to Japanese speakers continues, in South Carolina and Japan

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina has had a long relationship with Japanese ministers Aki and Yoko Shigemi.

This year, they received a partner grant from CBFSC to expand their ministry into a sustainable nonprofit.

Aki and YoKo minister to Japanese immigrants in the upstate. They hold some of their services at Boulevard Baptist Church in Anderson.

Here is what Aki has said about the pandemic and how their ministry is adapting to continue serving Japanese people.

In these trials, the Lord has opened unexpected possibilities.

By Aki Shigemi
Japanese Ministry

The global outbreak of Covid-19, which began in February, has caused great damage to small churches such as the Japanese Church. We could not have any Sunday service from March to May.

As pastor, I wanted to visit our members as much as possible. However, I could not visit them because of the spread of the coronavirus infection.

With the cooperation of our partner church, we resumed in-person worship in June. We have a large number of elderly members in the Japanese church. Their families were worried about their health and stopped attending the worship service, so the number of participants in the Sunday service declined.

In addition, many Japanese families have returned to Japan due to Covid-19 infection. And since the Japanese company banned them from returning to the United States until the infection subsided, we also had to suspend the English conversation classes.

The hospital where Yoko and I worked as chaplains laid off us. We experienced a severe ordeal.

In these trials, the Lord has opened unexpected possibilities.

The English conversation class has resumed using Zoom. So we have now realized we can get participants who are not just here in South Carolina but also in other states. And we can even  include those who had previously been here and have now returned to Japan.

In addition, we decided to start Japanese worship services using Zoom or YouTube to deal with the prolonged coronavirus infection.

We hope that these opportunities will open new windows and give new participants in our worship in future.