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JUC Children’s Ministries Trainings
March 26, 2020

The Japan Union Conference (JUC) Children’s Ministries department held special trainings in each Conference and Mission of JUC from February 1 to 8, 2020. These trainings were planned and organized by Pastor Masaru Kobayashi, JUC Children’s Ministries director, based on the requests of the East Japan Conference (EJC), the West Japan Conference (WJC), and the Okinawa Mission presidents, teachers, and local church Children’s Ministries leaders in each area. Dr. Linda Koh, Children’s Ministries director from the General Conference, and Dr. Lisa Clouzet, Children’s Ministries director from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, were the guest presenters.

The training itinerary began with worship at the Tokyo Central Church, Sabbath, February 1, where Dr. Koh presented the sermon and Dr. Clouzet gave the children’s story. Dr. Koh’s message came from John 15:108 and focused on the important characteristics of discipleship. That afternoon, 74 members from 6 churches in the East Tokyo area met at the Tokyo Central Church for trainings.

Sunday, February 2, 44 members (including children) from eight West Tokyo churches gathered at the Koganel Church. During the trainings, a special Adventurers program and activities were provided for the children. Following the trainings, the adult participants were able to visit with the children, hear about their activities, and enjoy some of the artwork that they had created while the seminars were taking place.

The Children’s Ministries training team visited the Hiroshima Elementary School Tuesday morning, February 4. During the visit, they were able to tour the facilities, greet many teachers and children in their classrooms, and watch part of a musical program some of the children were presenting for their parents. That afternoon, church members and seekers from the Chugoku Shikoku area of the WJC met at the Hiroshima Church for trainings.

After traveling to Okinawa, the team met Friday, February 7, at the Kitanaka Saniku elementary school. They had a tour of the school before meeting with 11 teachers. Friday evening, Dr. Koh presented a vespers program at the Okinawa Saniku junior high school, where 58 students and teachers were in attendance. Following vespers, the team met with some of the teachers for a Q & A session and a time of encouragement and prayer.

On Sabbath, February 8, Dr. Koh presented the sermon at the Kitanakagusuku Church and Dr. Clouzet presented the sermon at the Okinawa International Church. That afternoon 92 CHM leaders and elders, from 12 churches met at the Kitanakagusuku Church for training seminars. That evening, the team was invited to a special meal and program for 18 children and missing members at the Okinawa Shuri Church café. The children helped make the delicious meal and were excited for the adults to try it. Following the meal, Dr. Koh shared a short devotional with the adults and children. Her stories, accompanied by exciting visual aids, captured and held the attention of all in attendance.

The JUC itinerary was filled with many seminars and activities. Some of the seminar topics included “Attracting New Children to Church,” “The Effects of Diet on Character Development,” “Christian Parenting,” and “Making Family Worship Fun and Easy.” Throughout the week, Drs. Koh and Clouzet taught helpful principles and led the participants through interactive exercises to reinforce the concepts to be able to apply the principles in their current situation. There was also time given for questions and answers following each session.

The purpose of these trainings was not just to hold seminars, but also to provide an opportunity to encourage school teachers, Sabbath School leaders, church elders, parents, and students. The CHM team experienced generous hospitality in each of the areas visited. Throughout the week, they were also encouraged by the faithful dedication of the parents and those working with children of the JUC.

Raising and nurturing children for Jesus in these last days can be a challenging task, but with His wisdom and help, these challenges can be overcome. May we be encouraged by the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:14 (NKJV), “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Let us continue to embrace the children we have at present and show them that they matter and belong. Let us also continue to show appreciation and support for Children’s Ministries leaders, teachers, staff, and parents as we work together for His sake on behalf of the children.

Article by Masaru Kobayashi and Lisa Clouzet