Greeted by sub zero temperatures in St. Paul, Minnesota, six Japanese pastors were warmed in body and soul by the hospitality of Wally and Tannie Eshenauer. Pastors Fukui, Kishio, Yamauchi, Kaneno, Arakawa and Nakahasi gathered around the Eshenauer’s table to enjoy barbequed hamburgers with the Pinnacle Ministries Staff.
Bethany Church in Roseville arranged for housing and meals for the jet lagged pastors during their four-day stay. Grace Point Church provided a welcoming environment for training sessions and snacks for break time.
But, what were six Japanese pastors doing in the frigid Midwest? How did this all start?
Five years ago, at a breakfast in Tokyo, Gary, Ray, Cirillo Doguiles and John Mehn shared with Fukui and Sasaki their recent experience of training pastors in the Philippines. Soon, Pastor Fukui began the process of translating the training material into Japanese, wondering how God might use it in Japan.
Led by Pastor Fukui, a group of four pastors came to the states in 2009 and 2010. They met with Japanese American Pastors (JMT), Gary, and Ray in order to work on initial training and translating tasks.
In February 2011, Gary and Ray traveled to Hamamatsu, Japan for the Rengo Pastors Conference. They spoke on major portions of the Retool Kit. Since that time, additional training has been done in Japan and some via videoconferences as the translation and contextualization has moved forward.
Last week’s Summit is the next step in moving from assessment to vision and implementation. It also provided a venue for our Japanese pastors to interact with pastors from the states who have successfully moved through the Retool Kit Pathway.
We want to thank Pastor Gary Dorn, Pastor Darrel Benhardus and Pastor Roger Inouye for sharing their own experiences with the pastors. The opportunity to engage with these pastors was encouraging to our Japanese friends.
The Summit was not just about the Retool Kit. It was an opportunity for the Japanese pastors to share some of the unique struggles of the Japanese Church, which often numbers thirty or less. Discussions about how to support the Japanese pastors in issues of marriage and family deeply moved the Pinnacle Staff. Our Japanese brothers and sisters need our prayers.
Preparing for their return trip home, their leader, Dr. Fukui shared this verse of Scripture. It illustrates the dependence of these men on the Spirit of God to do His work in Japan. Zechariah 4:6 “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit’ says the Lord Almighty.”
We are grateful for the open doors God gives us, and the opportunities to learn about sacrifice, commitment and faithfulness to His calling. Thank you, pastors, for modeling those qualities for us!