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Stewardship Seminar at Setagaya Church
June 19, 2017

Pastor Kwon JohngHaeng, director of stewardship ministries of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, held a special stewardship seminar for youth members of Setagaya Church in Tokyo, Japan, on May 12 and 13, 2017. The Setagaya Adventist Church is 16 kilometers away from Tokyo Station, in Setagaya Ward, on the west side of Tokyo. Pastor Aoki, who is director of stewardship ministries, youth ministries, and associate director of publishing ministries of Japan Union Conference, is serving Setagaya Church.

Setagaya Church is special to both Japanese and Korean Adventists because it is the last church where late Elder Kuniya Hide served. Pastor Kuniya was one of the very first two Adventist pastors to be ordained in Japan together with Pastor Okohira, who brought Adventism from the United States to Japan. Korean members owe Pastor Kuniya a lot, for he baptized the very first two Koreans in 1904 in Kobe, Japan, and later in the same year, he came to Korea to baptize 74 Koreans and organized 4 churches. One of his great-granddaughters is still attending this church.

On Sabbath morning, there were 32 members in attendance. This is a regular-size church in Japan. But something that surprised me was the ratio of the members. Their median age was 26, and the church was extraordinarily young compared to the median age of Japan, which is 46.9 years. The ratio of female to male, 1 to 1.3, was also unusual.

What made the church different from almost all the other churches in Japan? The aging speed of the church is much faster than that of the national aging speed. The secret is Youth Rush. Pastor Aoki, pastor of Setagaya Church, has three different positions as mentioned above, and he tries to integrate all three of his positions in the Union into his church. For example, Pastor Aoki encouraged the members to join Youth Rush Japan, which is a publishing ministries project for volunteer youth literature evangelists. Volunteers learn how to distribute literature door to door. They hand out books, such as The Great Controversy, Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and many others.

Fifteen young members joined the project, and they went to Naha City in Okinawa in February and March 2017. For three weeks, each time, they stayed in a local church. They cooked for themselves, something they did not usually do at home. All the youth members who participated in the project experienced spiritual growth, and they became more mature in every aspect of life. They will visit other cities in July and August this year.

The stewardship seminar ended late on Sabbath afternoon. Members stayed behind in the church a long time, even after the speaker left the church. The seminar was a mutual blessing for the members of the church and the speaker. They learned the stewardship of lost souls, not only tithe and offerings. The speaker also learned from their willingness to join the ministry.

Kwon JohngHaeng, NSD Stewardship Director