There was a group of us (pastors and church members) in the same prefecture with the same vision to reach out to our prefecture Ibaraki through sports. We decided the best way to do this was to form a Community Partnership Team (CPT) and work together.
Our team in Ibaraki (north of Tokyo) met in person for the first time to climb Mt. Tsukuba, one of the most famous mountains in the region, on December 14, 2020. Some of us didn't know each other, so the hike was a good opportunity to grow closer. As a result, we formed a chat group in LINE (a messaging app). From there, we started talking and holding meetings to decide how we could work together to make disciples of Jesus in Ibaraki.
From the Mountain of Fear to the Valley of Celebration
In February 2021, our team decided to host a training session on May 15th to prepare for to launch our first community festival. However, we had to postpone the session because of an increase in COVID-19 cases. We were frustrated, but we set another training session for June 5th. We would hold the training in the morning and run the outreach festival in the afternoon. We started to prepare for it, but we felt challenged because the COVID situation wasn't changing. Despite the fear and uncertainty in our hearts, in prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit, we decided to keep the date.
The week before, the weather was bad, it rained a lot, and there was a strong possibility of rain on the day of the festival. Yet that day, God blessed and surprised us with good and cool weather.
In the morning, we all went to Keisen Christ Midorino Chapel, our host church, for the training. God was incredibly kind. We were amazed by the number of volunteers participating in the training, approximately 30 people from 5 different churches and 1 person from the YMCA. It was the first time that those churches and the YMCA had done something together. We had fun and learned a lot during the morning training. People were excited about the experience to come in the afternoon.
At the same time, we weren't expecting many guests because some of the surrounding cities were still in a State of Emergency. To be honest, most of us expected to host the festival with only those who had been part of the morning training. But God's plans were different! He doesn't need favorable circumstances to work.
Nearly 70 people attended (many parents with their children) and many of them were not believers. There was a large number of young people participating in the training and happily serving at the festival. Can you imagine almost 100 people dancing, playing, singing, talking, and having fun? What a special moment!
God turned our fears and uncertainties into joy and celebration. His kingdom came and his will was done for his glory and our encouragement. According to God's promise in Psalm 133, he loves it when his people live in unity. He gives them their blessing and life forever. We definitely got his blessings on that day!
After the community festival, we got together to share feedback about the day. It was encouraging to share our comments and suggestions with each other. We are excited to continue working together. We scheduled our next festival for November, and this time, a different church will host us.
We look forward to seeing what God will continue to do in and through us in Ibaraki. Please pray for our Ibaraki team!
By: The Ibaraki Community Partnership Team