Our partnership with Takasago Church and the Holy Spirit Renewal Association of the UCC began in 2007 when Rev. Brad Long was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Renewal Board’s 10th anniversary gathering which was held at Takasago Church. Brad taught on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit moved in power.

Out of this, Brad invited Rev Tezuka, the pastor of Takasago Church and President of the Renewal Board, to come to the 2008 Dunamis Fellowship International meeting in Black Mountain. Rev. Tezuka came with his wife and another Board member, Rev. Nukato.

They came to learn more about PRMI and especially the Dunamis Project. After our week together, they returned home and shared with the Renewal Board what they had learned.

Together, they decided to invite a PRMI team to lead a Dunamis track at Takasago Church. We started in February 2009 with the teaching team of Rev. John Chang, Rev. Peyton Johnson, and Rev. Cindy Strickler.

We taught through all 6 Dunamis projects over the next 6 years and then concluded with Growing the Church in 2015. The teaching team was joined by Rev. Steve Thayer in 2011 and Brad Long came in 2013 to teach on Spiritual Warfare.

One of the highlights over these 7 years was seeing people embrace the teaching and grow with it during the year between events. A group of intercessors was raised up who learned how to do “event intercession” and grew in these gifts during the second half of the Dunamis Track.

In 2017 the team was invited to return for a final teaching event. The Renewal Board has discerned that they need to shift their focus to more one to one mentoring of pastors, rather than conference-style ministry, like the event in Takasago.

We tailored this final meeting to lay people rather than pastors and leaders and called it “Learning to Walk in the Holy Spirit.” The focus was on the dynamic of cooperation with the Holy Spirt and we kept the teaching very practical.

Growing the Church at Takasago Church in Japan, February 2017

“Learning to Walk in the Spirit” at Takasago Church in Japan, February 2017

We also included testimonies from 5 pastors and 2 lay people in our teaching. It was a wonderful time and we saw the Spirit move in power as people embraced the teaching and moved into practice.

Rev. Tezuka asked that we send a report with our reflections about these years together. Below are excerpts from this report from the 4 of us.  Also included are some pictures from this time in February.

We anticipate that PRMI will continue to have connections with the Takasago Church and the Renewal Board. The work in Japan will continue through Rev. Christian Zebley, who is a DFI member and now pastors a church in West Tokyo.

The DFK is also in discussions with two large congregations in the southern part of Japan who have Japanese and Korean members. Please pray for the ongoing work in Japan.

Reflections on Our Partnership 

I (Cindy Strickler) want to thank the staff and members of Takasago Church, our hosts for the “Growing in Walking with the Spirit” conference in Japan in early February, for what was truly a remarkable time of ministry and friendship.

We are so grateful for their willingness to open their church–and their hearts–to PRMI and to the 5 of us who were blessed to come to the church and work alongside them.

We were so blessed by the incredible farewell celebration the church gave us. We enjoyed exploring some sites on the island and were very grateful for Nitta Sensai, Andrew Sensai and Ema for being our gracious hosts for this time.

Cindy Strickler teaching with her translator, Yuie

Rev. Cindy Strickler teaching with her translator, Yui

They made sure we had everything we needed and more. The incredible hospitality of Takasago Church made this a wonderful trip.

As I Reflect Back on Our 10 Years Together, I am Struck by Many Memories

Throughout the years, I have so appreciated the warmth and hospitality of Takasago Church. From the day I arrived in February, 2009, and was greeted by Hitomi and Kozo, this congregation has been incredible in taking care of us and making our stays comfortable.

I have treasured the friendships that have developed over these years and am so grateful to have so many pictures that I can look at as I remember and pray for you.

Two members of the PRMI ministry team for this event, Peyton Johnson and Steve Thayer, share their appreciation for the hospitality and fellowship in ministry he experienced at Takasago Church:

Rev. Peyton Johnson: “As I reflect back on these last eight years of ministry at Takasago Church, I have a sense of fulfilling a lifelong love for the Japanese people and a passion to reach Japan for Jesus Christ. I am filled with many fond memories. Powerful moments of the movement of the Holy Spirit are recalled.

What a privilege to share ministry experiences, challenges, and victories. Over these last years, we have developed a deep bond of love with the people of Takasago Church and the many other participants in our conferences.

I will never forget the superb food, fun, and fellowship. We are deeply grateful for and humbled by the Spirit-filled, gracious hospitality we were offered before, during, and after our conferences. I love the people of this church and will continue to pray for them.”

Steve Thayer, Cindy Strickler, and Peyton Johnson at Takasago Church, Japan

Rev. Steve Thayer, Rev. Cindy Strickler, and Rev. Peyton Johnson in worship at Takasago Church, Japan

Rev. Steve Thayer: “It has been a privilege to be part of the Takasago Dunamis team. We have been honored by the extraordinary hospitality of Takasago Church, inspired by the faith and commitment of the participants, and blessed by relationships fostered over the years.

The opportunity to share in God’s work with this congregation has been an honor and a joy for which I will ever be grateful. I pray that all involved may continue to grow in cooperation with the Holy Spirit so that Jesus might be lifted up in the nation of Japan.”

Steve Thayer praying for Pastors

Rev. Steve Thayer praying for Pastors

Rev. John C. H. Chang: “It was so great and precious to meet the congregation of Takasago Church from February 11-18, 2017, again. I will remember and treasure your friendship and love in my heart always.

Here is my prayer for Takasago Church: I pray that the Lord will use the Takasago Church as a beacon of light to shine in the Japanese society always; and also as kerosene that our Lord Jesus can initiate the fire of the Holy Spirit to revive entire Japanese churches, so that the revival may arrive in Japan soon.

The purpose is that when the time comes, the people of chopsticks (Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans) may join together in Christ as a united mighty army of Jesus Christ to carry the last torch of the gospel of Jesus Christ and bring it back to Jerusalem.

Please pray ceaselessly (Colossians 4:2). May the Lord bless you all always!”

Rev. Paul Ariga with Rev. John Chang

Rev. Paul Ariga with Rev. John Chang

A Living, Growing Faith in Jesus Christ

I have also been impressed with the vitality of this congregation’s faith in Jesus Christ. I was so blessed to hear the testimonies at Dunamis 8. This track has grown so much over these past years and it is such an encouragement to us.

We enjoyed hearing stories of how the Dunamis teaching has been applied and has enriched the congregation’s walk with Jesus. I am grateful that the teaching has been applicable and that they have grown in their ability to listen to and be led by the Holy Spirit.

The third thing that has impressed me is this church’s faithfulness in following Jesus in such a spiritually dark place. Satan has great power in Japan to block the spread of the gospel.

Every time there has been a revival he has moved in and squelched it. In spite of this oppression, This congregation is standing firm in faith, the church continues to grow, and is faithful in sharing the good news with others.

Continue to Pray with Takasago Church in Japan

Pastor Peyton Johnson teaching about how "the people who use chopsticks"are an instrumental part of taking the gospel back to Jerusalem

Rev. Paul Ariga and Rev. Peyton Johnson teaching about how “the people who use chopsticks”are an instrumental part of taking the gospel back to Jerusalem

I will continue to pray with Takasago Church for revival in Japan and that the strongholds that are blocking the spread of the gospel with be broken. I believe the winds of revival that are already moving in China, Taiwan, and Korea, and that the people of chopsticks are ready to be unleashed in Japan.

It is time for the church of Japan to raise up and take her place in fulfilling her role in seeing the gospel go back to Jerusalem, and indeed to the ends of the earth.

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