DALE & ANN LITTLE

Moving out of Tokyo

TMC Target Area
After living in our apartment in Tokyo for 10 years we moved out in Dec 2022. We took some stuff to our vacation house in northern Japan, which we made our official Japanese legal residence. And we shipped about 22 boxes to our house in Maine, which is now our primary residence. The rest we discarded.

Starting Jan 2023 we carry out our ministries remotely from Maine for 8-9 mos/yr and in-person in Japan and Asia for 3-4 mos/yr from our house in northern Japan.

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The memories… Read More…

Dec 2022 at TMC

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Dec 2022 Christmas events at TMC included a children’s event, advent candle lightings, and worship services. No potlucks yet…that’ll need to wait until the new year when Tokyo eases off on covid restrictions for gatherings.

More pictures…
Read More…

Anna, God’s timing

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Luke 2:36-39

At the end of the Christmas story passage in Luke, when Mary and Joseph visit the Temple, we meet Anna the prophet. As new parents Mary and Joseph followed the law very carefully for their newborn son. At his circumcision they named him Jesus just as the angel had instructed both of them. They presented him at the temple and gave an offering. According to Jewish law, a spotless lamb was the accepted offering for the first born son. However, because Mary and Joseph were poor, two doves or pigeons were acceptable. Read More…

Elizabeth

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Luke 1:5-25, 39-80

As we approach the Christmas season one of the women who stands out in the story is Elizabeth. There are many things I could write about her, but let’s look at three important points.
  1. Elizabeth suffered the disgrace of infertility
  2. Elizabeth enjoyed the blessing of a special miracle, a touch from God
  3. Elizabeth became the mentor and comfort for Mary, just when she needed an ally.
Read More…

Twenty Years of Teaching Theology in Japan

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Dale began teaching his Contemporary Theology class in Japanese at Japan Bible Seminary in 2001. He completed his 20th year in Nov 2022. Due to several home assignments along the way he did not teach the course every year. Class sizes have ranged from 3-4 students (as in the 2022 pic above) up to a dozen. He’ll be continuing to teach for a few more years.

Always enjoyable!…but much more challenging to grade theology papers in Japanese for 12 students than 3.

Connecting with God and One Another

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We finally held our first-ever ServeBeyond retreat in Asia!

After postponing for two years due to covid, we were able to gather Oct. 10-14 in Pattaya Thailand at the Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort for networking, encouragement, and relaxation. The majority of the eleven missionaries and mission leaders from Canada, Japan and Thailand who were able to attend (about half our number) had rarely if ever met in-person.

We connected with God by learning about Jesus’ post-resurrection Great Commission teachings. We also shared with one another about our lives and ministries, and prayed for each other. Read More…

Transitions and Finances

Looking toward our future retirement, we plan to transition from in-person church planting leadership at Tokyo Multicultural Church to “coaching from a distance” at the end of 2022. This means moving our primary residence from our apartment in Tokyo to our house in Cape Elizabeth, Maine US (Ann’s hometown), while retaining a secondary residence at our vacation house in northern Japan.

We will continue full-time ministry with ServeBeyond (EFC of Canada) for 2-4 years by (1) overseeing TMC; (2) coordinating ServeBeyond projects in Asia; and (3) continuing to teach theology in Tokyo (Dale). We will also visit our supporting churches in Canada and the US. So we will continue to carry a full-time missionary budget.

However, the way we do these ministries will change. Lord willing, we plan to take 2-3 annual trips of 1-2 months each to Japan and Asia. This will make it possible for us to be at TMC 6-8 Sundays a year and for Dale to teach modular seminary classes twice a year. By keeping a secondary residence in Japan we will be able to reduce our flight costs within Asia for visiting ServeBeyond projects and personnel because our itineraries can originate in Tokyo rather than the US. Read More…

Where is the Church?

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

This ostensibly simple question seems to be answered in three basic ways in writings on ecclesiology.[1] Contemporary publications about the Church, by the way, appear to be on the increase.[2] Roman Catholic and Orthodox folks would hold that a church exists where the sacraments are correctly administered by qualified personnel. The broad flow of Protestants could be said to believe that a church exists where there is correct Biblically based teaching. And perhaps, to select one group of Protestants, charismatically oriented believers might hold that a church exists where the Holy Spirit is active.
[1] For an example see Lesslie Newbigin, Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the Church (London: SCM, 1952, 1964).
[2] For a helpful but irenic introduction to various contemporary ecclessiologies see Veli-Matti Karkkainen,
An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical and Global Perspectives (Downers Grove, IVP, 2002).

There are elements of truth in all three of these answers. Read More…

She Gave Everything

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

In Mark 12:41-44 we see a very short story about a widow:
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.”

The contrast between the rich people and the poor widow was startling. How happy the temple religious leaders must have been to see the offerings of the wealthy. They were noticed by everyone. However, no one noticed the widow as she quietly made her way to the treasury to give her two small coins. Read More…

Back in Tokyo for the Fall

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Our back and forth across the Pacific Puddle lifestyle can be tiring, but it is always great to get back to in-person church planting ministry at TMC. It’s wonderful to have some babies at TMC and to see some visitors deciding to become regulars!

This fall will be our final months of keeping our Tokyo apartment so we’ll be busy with sorting, throwing stuff, packing and moving in addition to ministry. Starting Jan 2023 we plan to transition to a hybrid remote/in-person ministry at TMC and in Asia, based primarily in Maine USA but also at our vacation house in northern Japan.

Priority of the Word of God in Church Planting

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

The book of Acts has always been a rich resource for thinking biblically about mission. In 2002, Baker published David Pao’s Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus. Pao argues that the priority Isaiah placed on the notion of the word of God is a hermeneutical key for understanding Acts. He tells us that the word of God, the logos, is the central theme of Acts. Read More…

Jesus Broke a Sabbath Rule to Heal a Woman

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Luke 13:10-17
When I first moved to Japan and lived in Aichi-ken, I was curious about all the little old bent over ladies that I saw. I wondered, was this a result of carrying babies on their backs for many years, or long hours working out in the fields, or from many years of deep bowing? Knowing that they probably suffered pain, I also wondered at their ability to keep going and marveled at their strength and tenacity. In Luke 13 we read a very brief story about a women with a similar condition. Read More…

When Little is Big

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Have you often found yourself wishing that the size of the Church of Jesus Christ in Japan might be bigger than it is? I have. Church planters in Japan and in other cultures resistant to the gospel can be encouraged to persevere in their ministry by understanding that small can be significant within God’s mission. [i]

[i] These thoughts were given in sermon format at Takayama Chapel (Shichigahama Machi, Miyagi-ken, Japan) on Aug. 10, 2003. I am indebted to the following article: George Vandervelde, “The Challenge of Evangelical Ecclesiology,” Evangelical Review of Theology (2003) 27:1, 4-26. Read More…

The Mother who was both Insulted and Praised by Jesus

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

In Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-29 we have a somewhat puzzling conversation between Jesus, the Jewish teacher, and a nameless foreign Gentile woman from Syro-Phoenicia.

What was this woman’s problem? Her daughter was possessed by an evil spirit that was trying to harm her. She no doubt spent most of her time protecting the child and neutralizing the evil as best as she could. What was a mother to do in such a situation? Her solution was to ask Jesus to heal her little girl. Read More…

Grandbaby 3: Introducing Kaylee Hiroko

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On July 28 Matthew & Kristy welcomed their first baby, a girl they named Kaylee Hiroko. Kristy gave birth at 41 weeks. Kaylee’s middle name, Hiroko, was Matthew’s mother’s middle name.
So we now have one granddaughter along with two grandsons.

Dale's Health has Improved

As of summer 2022 Dale needs no further prescription medicine for polymyalgia rheumatica that he was diagnosed with in Feb 2020. PTL! He will have annual check-ups in case it recurs or perhaps morphs into something else like rheumatoid arthritis.

TMC is Seeking an English Ministries Missionary Pastor

TMC invites inquiries from a missionary single or couple who…
  • will contribute to overall church leadership and vision alongside TMC’s Japanese, English, and Chinese ministries pastors.
  • speaks English fluently and has some Japanese language ability.
  • holds a Master’s degree or equivalent from an evangelical seminary.
  • can unreservedly sign the Evangelical Free Church of Canada “Gospel Truths” statement of faith.
  • can supply own financial package as a fully supported or bi-vocational missionary, with the possibility of receiving a small stipend from TMC in the future.
(See here for more details.)
Interested? ...or know of someone who might be interested? If so, contact Dale.

2021_11-01

New Pastoral Couple for TMC Chinese Ministries

We praise the Lord for leading David & Lina to TMC through Singapore!

David & Lina are missionary appointees with SIM Singapore. David has worked in Tokyo and speaks Japanese quite well. After that he earned both a Masters and a professional Doctoral degree from a US evangelical seminary’s Chinese language program. His doctoral project was on discipleship. He has been both a pastor and a church planter. Lina has worked for a number of multinational companies with responsibilities in several North Asia countries and speaks excellent English. She does marriage counseling and serves in women’s and children’s ministries at their church.

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A TMC Chinese Fellowship gathering, Nov 2021 Read More…

Asia ServeBeyond Retreat

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October 2022 in Pattaya Thailand
Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort

A time of networking, encouragement, and refreshment for ServeBeyond Asia personnel.

For more information, contact Dale, Asia region coordinator for ServeBeyond, or login here at servebeyond.asia.

Nurturing Communities of Faith

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

“Sensei (teacher), please bring a short biblical message at the beginning of our business meeting next week.” “Sensei, I feel as if God has abandoned me.” “Sensei, we’d like you to perform our engagement ceremony.” “Sensei, my mother was hospitalized yesterday. Please pray for her.” “Sensei, can you teach that twelve-week class on our doctrinal statement again?”

These kinds of requests and comments do not sound like the kinds that might be found on the forefront of evangelism. Nevertheless, the issues above typify discussions with people in my church plant. The issues often deal more with establishing the church plant than with evangelizing the lost. From a practical point of view, it seems that a major and necessary role of the church planting missionary is to provide care and nurture for the community of faith that the church planter is trying to coax into existence. Read More…

The Woman with an Alabaster Jar of Perfume

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

There are four passages in the Bible that record a woman anointing Jesus’ head with perfume. The three in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and John 12 are all very similar. John clearly says that this is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. However, in Luke 7:36-50 we read about a mysterious, nameless “immoral” woman, who became a lesson to the religious leaders on forgiveness and love. Read More…

From "EFCCM" to "ServeBeyond"

ServeBeyond logo

The EFCCM (Evangelical Free Church of Canada Mission) has rebranded as ServeBeyond. The Evangelical Free Church of Canada denominational name remains the same and its url is efcc.ca. So ServeBeyond is now the international mission arm of the EFCC. And the national mission arm of the EFCC has been rebranded as ServeCanada.

Therefore Dale & Ann are now missionaries with ServeBeyond. And the url for the Asia region of ServeBeyond, which Dale & Ann coordinate, is now servebeyond.asia.

Creating Communities of Faith

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

According to New Testament records of mission in the early church, conversion to Christ was an event which culminated in new believers becoming members of the earthly community of Christ. The early church assumed that individual salvific transfer from the kingdom of darkness to that of the Son of God meant a numerical addition to the local church. Read More…

Women: First witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Scripture: Matthew 28:1-11; Mark16:1-14; Luke 24:1-24; John 20:1-20
Mary Magdalene was the key player in this resurrection story. Mary the mother of James, Salome, and Johanna are also listed and Luke mentioned “several other women.” Except for Jesus’ mother who, we can guess, was being cared for by John, the women were most likely the same women at the cross. They had witnessed his death, and watched where he was buried. Read More…

The Church as God’s Missional Instrument

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

According to the Apostle Paul, it is through the church that God proclaims his glory. “His [God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 3:10 [NIV]) Read More…

Grandbaby 2: Introducing Owen Jude Little

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On March 19 Bryan and Jessica welcomed their second baby boy into their lives. Baby Owen joins big brother Kasen (2 1/2 yrs).
So we now have two grandsons, with a granddaughter on the way.

Women At The Cross (So Many Marys!)

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Scripture: Matthew 27:55-61, Mark 15:40-47, Luke 23:49-56, John 19:25-27
All four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) record the women at the cross of Jesus. We don’t know how many women were there, but Matthew says “many women.” Read More…

Barth as a Possible Source for Church Planting Theology

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

The performance was about to begin. Negotiations concerning place, length of performance, starting and finishing times, participants, primary and secondary actors, and investments of resources had all successfully concluded. The opening curtain was about to rise. As one of the primary actors, I was a little nervous. This was only my second performance. But the Director’s promise of ultimate success was an encouragement. This was no mere ninety minute performance. Like the previous drama I had performed in, this one was also to last about four years. I was about to participate in planting another church in a cross-cultural setting. During the long performance I would need some helpful resources. Read More…

The Woman At The Well

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Scripture: John 4:4-29;39-42
Here is one of the most famous encounters that Jesus had with a woman in the Bible. Read More…

TMC is Seeking a Chinese Ministries Pastoral Couple who...

…will launch Chinese worship services (currently a monthly Chinese fellowship).
…will contribute to overall church leadership and vision alongside TMC’s Japanese and English ministries pastors.
...has a heart for reaching people in greater Tokyo for Christ, both Japanese and expatriates.
...is inter-culturally sensitive and can lead with humility, gentleness, patience, and love (Ephesians 4:2).
...speaks Mandarin and/or Cantonese fluently, English well, and has some Japanese ability.

(See here for more details.)

Interested?...or know of someone who might be interested? If so, contact Dale.

2021_12_19 caroling Read More…

When Church Planters “Fail”

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Church planting can be a risky undertaking because success is not guaranteed, especially in a Buddhist culture resistant to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But hope comes from understanding church planting to be essentially a theological activity rooted in the faithfulness of God. Read More…

"Daughter" - The Bleeding Woman

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

Scripture: Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
This little story is an interruption in the middle of the story of the healing of Jairus’ daughter. We are caught up in the anxiety of a father, and wondering if Jesus will get to his little 12 year old girl in time to heal her. Then this nameless bleeding woman interrupts the journey.

In reality this is a sparkling gem in the stories of Jesus and reminds us once again of how much he valued women, no matter their rank in society.

What do we know about this woman? Read More…

Transitions

(Updated May 11, 2022 )

Dale & Ann had been planning to transition from their in-person TMC leadership role in mid-2022 and make Cape Elizabeth, Maine (Ann’s hometown) their home base from where they would continue remote/virtual leadership. But for two reasons they have postponed this transition until late 2022. (1) Covid has negatively affected TMC achieving financial stability, with offerings taking a hit in 2020 and 2021. And (2) TMC needs more pastors/missionaries on staff. In addition to Dale & Ann’s planned transition, two other senior missionary households are retiring or stepping down from most leadership roles at TMC in 2022. Although TMC has a Japanese ministries pastor, it needs pastors/missionaries for both English and Chinese ministries because those two ministries are currently led by part-time personnel.

But after they do make this transition they will continue full-time ministry with ServeBeyond (EFCC) for a few years and so continue to carry a full-time missionary budget. Read More…

Why Bother Thinking Theologically About Church Planting?

“Thinking Theologically About Church Planting” series by Dale Little

Answer: Because the ultimate biblically informed goal of church planting transcends and permeates the daily business of church planting, thus empowering church planters who embrace this theological goal to carry out the myriad of details necessary for sticking with the job and getting it done. Read More…

Martha

“Women of the Bible” series by Ann Little

In the 1970’s and 80’s when I was in seminary, Christian feminist books began appearing on our book shelves. I remember one controversial book "All We're Meant to Be," as one of the first to break into the conservative Christian world. My favorite chapter in the book was about how Jesus treated women in the stories in the New Testament. It was an eye opener for me. As a result, I love studying the stories of women in the Bible. Over the next months, I would like to focus on one woman each month.

Martha has taken so much criticism from preachers and Bible teachers for her fretful attention to her household responsibilities. "Be a Mary, not a Martha," they say. But I would like to defend her.

Martha had the gift of hospitality.

Read More…