From Leading to Advising at TMC

Dale is trying to transition from major decision making leadership at TMC to an advisory role. He’s encouraging others to lead TMC’s monthly Leadership Team meetings and Members’ Meetings. Ann has already made the transition in her areas of responsibility. After Dale moves to an advisory role both Dale & Ann would continue to connect with TMC leaders and others for encouragement and coaching. Dale would also continue recruiting and onboarding new leaders.

However, TMC’s current leaders are not quite ready to assume the leadership roles Dale carries. But one couple is interested in coming aboard as full-time English ministries leaders (more in our next letter). So perhaps Dale will be able to make the transition in the near future.

An advisory role at TMC for Dale would give Dale & Ann more time to focus on their Regional Coordinator ministry in Asia (Taipei, Chiang Mai, Manila, Hong Kong). But any missional ministry, whether at TMC or in Asia, is contingent upon their good health and the financial support of their support team in Canada and the US.

40 Years and Counting

1984 pray card
In June 1984 we arrived in Japan to begin our missionary life there under first the Evangelical Free Church of America mission (now ReachGlobal) and then the EFC of Canada mission (now ServeBeyond).

The Lord has been gracious to us through his people and we are thankful. With his help we think we have a few more years to go!

Seminary Teaching in Jun

Dale taught the first half of his modular Contemporary Theology seminary class in Japanese Jun 24-26. The second half will be at the last week of Oct. This is his 22nd year of teaching part-time at Japan Bible Seminary.

He was particularly encouraged by the comment of one his students after his presentation on postmodernism, describing Japan as a soft postmodern culture in which personal relationships are illusive or shallow:

Your description of postmodernism and your classification of Japan as a soft postmodern culture fits me perfectly. Until I became a follower of Christ at the age of 26 I was indeed a soft postmodernist who desperately wanted to develop meaningful personal relationships because I had none. It was only when a Christian church and its people welcomed me into their circle that I was introduced to the love of God and his objective, universal truth.

It seems sometimes theology aligns with reality!…and might move toward doxology.

TMC Visit in Jun

We were at TMC on the Sundays of June 9, 16, and 23, with Dale preaching on June 16. During the weekdays each of us met one-on-one with some members or attenders. David & Lina Cheng are taking the lead in many ways, not only in Chinese ministries. This is the kind of leadership we are nurturing at TMC.

In June David & Lina became Mission Associates with ServeBeyond, seconded under a Memorandum of Understanding with their primary mission agency, SIM in Singapore. You can donate to their account #2-2377 at efcc.ca. The two mission agencies are partnering in mission for planting and establishing TMC.

In the middle of our Tokyo trip Ann returned to Maine to care for her 95 year old mother who had been hospitalized shortly after we arrived in Japan. Her mother was discharged but needed Ann’s help at home. June-July is hectic strawberry season on the family farm, so Ann’s sister, who is mom’s primary caregiver, was grateful that Ann was able to help with mom. We are thankful that mom is now doing much better.

Children are Welcome at TMC

Tokyo Multicultural Church is like a one-room school (remember those?). We meet in one large room (at least by Japan standards) on the first floor of a business building. All TMC activities happen there, including children’s ministries. Some children come to TMC’s twice a month Sunday school and some only come during the worship service that follows (they live further away). The total number is about a dozen. For a few months a play corner was set up at the back of the church for them during the worship service, behind a divider. But hey, legos on hard table tops can be noisy!…as well as the excitement that goes with them. So recently the children’s ministry team has been focusing on how to incorporate the children into the worship service by preparing things for them to do. (In Japan and many Asian countries, the worship service is seen as for adults, not children.) This attempt to welcome the children into TMC worship services seems to be working, at least for the moment. Ann has been coaching the children’s ministry team along in this direction.

Partner Visit - Victory Church in HK

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Victory Church, an EFC of China Hong Kong church, reaches the members, friends, and families of the infamous Triad gang. Their major annual event is an evangelistic banquet attended by hundreds of former gang members and their families, many of whom have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. We attended that lively banquet for the first time in February, seeing how the director and his wife are so loved by those they serve.

Partner Visit - Medicare Resources in HK

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Medicare Resources in Hong Kong is a ServeBeyond partner ministry. They share God’s love with the poor through providing medical care, educational resources, poverty relief, community development, and disaster relief. In February we finally had the opportunity to meet with the leader of this ministry and visit the office. What an important ministry happening out of a small office!…and with such smiling staff.

Church Visit - Hong Kong

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Like Tokyo Multicultural Church, the Evangelical Free Church of China (HK) International Church in Hong Kong serves both nationals and expatriates. Trying to learn from and connect with like-minded churches, we visited the EFCC Int’l Church while in Hong Kong in February. On one Sunday we enjoyed both the English worship service and the lunch that followed. God is scattering people from all over the world to the major cities of Asia, and some of the EFC denominations in Asia are rising to the challenge of including all peoples in their vision of sharing the gospel of Jesus.

Feb-Mar in Asia

From Feb 24 - Mar 5 we traveled on from Tokyo (Narita) to Hong Kong, Macau, and Chiang Mai for visits with ServeBeyond global workers and partners. In HONG KONG we were guests at the annual evangelistic banquet at Victory Church (EFC China) for Triad gang members and their families, attended Sunday worship at the Hong Kong International Free Church, met with the leaders of “Medicare Resources” at their office, and had a lunch with the Overseas Missions Board of the EFC of China. In MACAU we visited with Kevin in his home country (TMC’s part-time associate pastor for Chinese ministries). And in CHIANG MAI, THAILAND we met with ServeBeyond personnel (pic), going over their annual reviews and discussing possibilities for ServeBeyond’s second Asia retreat, this time in Krabi THAILAND (near Phuket) in Oct.

Lord willing, we travel next to Asia in June, this time maybe only to Japan.

TMC Visit in Feb

We were in Tokyo Feb 4 - 23 for in-person coaching and leadership at Tokyo Multicultural Church. Dale led another monthly leadership team meeting (as he normally does but often by zoom) and a congregational meeting. Dale & Ann both met one-on-one with various TMC members and leaders, usually at coffee shops or restaurants. One highlight was a visit by two ladies from EFC of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada), one of our primary supporting/partner churches.

TMC Additions and Subtractions

For the past few years our focus has been to recruit and onboard new young pastoral/missionary staff for TMC ministries so the church can be established and we can transition out of our overall leadership role. In 2023 the Lord faithfully sent us Bob & Keiko for part-time English ministries and David & Lina for full-time Chinese ministries. Praise the Lord!

But one development over the past few months feels as if it is moving us in the wrong direction: TMC’s Japanese ministers pastor will be moving on from TMC. Dale has always had a good relationship with this pastor who joined TMC in 2019, and that positive connection continued through Dale’s numerous discussions with him about leaving. Since 2023 TMC has only been able to pay him a stipend rather than a salary. So he needed to consider other pastoral options. However, because of the expectation in Japan (not at TMC) that both husband and wife of a Japanese pastoral couple serve the church, he felt his gifts would be better used outside a full-time pastorate. So as of April he will take secular employment and perhaps develop a part-time ministry. May God bless him and his family as he goes!…and TMC as we seek the Lord’s will for leadership in our Japanese ministries.

Christmas 2023 in Maine USA

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We enjoyed 2023 Christmas in Maine USA, hanging out mostly at our house with our children and grandchildren. As Ann likes to say, we now have 9 children: the 3 she gave birth to have each married (=6) and 2 of those units have 3 children (=9).