Japanese Americans

Most of the attention recently paid to the Japanese has focused on their economic might. But for a small group of Christian leaders, it is the spiritual need of Japanese living in the U.S. and Japanese Americans that has captured their interest. “Over 95 percent of this community still do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And only 185 Japanese-American churches and a handful of Asian-American churches exist nationwide,” says Stan Inouye, president of Iwa (Japanese for “rock”).

To promote leadership development within the Japanese-American church community, Inouye huddled with a select group of 84 other evangelical Japanese-American pastors and leaders last March in San Bernardino, California. Most came from the West Coast, but conferees also came from Chicago, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Leaders from parachurch organizations such as InterVarsity, Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Asian-American Christian Fellowship also took part in learning new strategies and connecting with others in ministry to Japanese Americans.

“There’s never been a conference like this before for Asian Americans,” said Wayne Ogimachi, pastor of Christian Layman Church in Berkeley, California. “We’ll all go away with a broader understanding of how God is working with Asian Americans across the country.”

Native Americans

Aboriginal Christians gathered recently near Santa Fe, New Mexico, to challenge themselves—and others—to a bigger, clearer view of the needs of native Americans. Some 500 North American Indian leaders gathered in mid-March for SONRISE ’92, an “International Native American Congress on Evangelism, Discipleship and Church Growth” sponsored by CHIEF (Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship) of Phoenix.

Sixty-five tribes were represented, including Alaskan Eskimos, Seminoles of Florida, Canada’s Crees, the Cherokees of Oklahoma, Mohawks, Sioux, and the Navajo Nation. Special guests from as far away as Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Mongolia, and New Zealand also attended.

One goal, according to conference chairman Tom Claus, president of CHIEF, was to encourage networking among native American churches and missions agencies. Of special concern were the problems of syncretism and lack of growth among native American churches. “I believe that if our native churches are really going to grow after 500 years of the gospel,” Claus said, referring to Columbus’s arrival in America, “we’re going to have to work together.”

The conference also commissioned a group of 12 Indian leaders to represent the native American church on a trip to Israel, where they met with that country’s president and prime minister. At the invitation of the Israeli government, CHIEF organized a group of native pastors representing North and South America and Asia. According to Claus, CHIEF has invitations to send representatives to China, Korea, and New Zealand.

By Chuck McDonald in San Bernardino, and Jim Uttley in Sante Fe.

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