Planting Churches in Osaka/Kobe Japan

Earlier in the year, my friend Pierce Machigashira and I spent time with pastors and churches in Kansai, Western Japan.

The ministries we helped start years ago are now mature and don’t need much teaching or training from me.

I do teach when I go there and usually preach, as I did on this trip, but these guys are growing and multiplying churches. They each use different strategies but the goal is always the same—to bring Jesus to the Japanese people.

Rob Flaherty & Kobe Bible Fellowship

Steve Fox is a popular rock musician. He, Rob Flaherty, myself and Loyd Flaherty dreamed up KBF.

Our efforts in the Kansai region all trace their way back to Kobe Bible Fellowship. The church got started at a chance encounter in my carport in Hawaii.

Steve Fox was a “circuit-riding missionary” in Japan at the time.

Converted at the height of a career in the most popular rock band in Japan, he worked for a group of churches trying to reach Japan. It was Steve that brought Loyd Flaherty to my house while I was changing brakes on my surf van. Loyd is mechanical and soon joined in the effort.

As we worked he mentioned that he and his brother ran a Sunday evening worship and fellowship meeting at the language school where they taught. The short story is that by the end of the day Steve and I had convinced Loyd (and Rob through him) to turn the meeting into a church that could attract young Japanese.

Kobe Bible Fellowship got kicked out of the school almost as soon as they announced what they were doing. They moved to a labor-union hall and eventually to a rented space on Sunday afternoons in a Taiwanese Christian church.

Today, the church is the largest Protestant congregation in Kobe and plants churches throughout Japan via Rob’s sermons on the internet.  Wherever they attract a sizeable audience they organize a congregation. Rob also hosts a weekly six-minute video blog that attracts more than 5,000 people. It is morphing into a church planting tool.

Jeff and Naoko MacKay left Hawaii to personally plant eight churches in Osaka.

Jeff MacKay & Hope Chapel Osaka

Jeff moved to Hawaii with us in 1983 and soon planted Hope Chapel Mililani, Hawaii. The church grew to several hundered under his leadership. He and his wife, Naoko, have planted 8 churches in and around Osaka after spending a year learning Japanese culture at Kobe Bible Fellowship (while teaching English to earn a living).

Jeff’s approach is to plant a church while raising a disciple to replace himself. He then hands the church off to his disciple and starts over. This takes much faith and courage as he’s started over eight times, not counting Mililani where he started with a group of high school kids. Decades later, the church is going strong.

Fumi Chito with Pierce Machigashura. Fumi pastors rapidly growing Crossroad Church in Nishinomiya. Pierce is a member of Hope Chapel Honolulu.

Fumi Chito and Crossroad Church in Nishinomiya

We got to spend a morning with Fumi. I brought a team to his church a couple of months earlier but he’s hungry to crack the code of how to multiply churches. Crossroad is one of the fastest growing churches in Japan but have yet to multiply a daughter church.

Fumi came up as a disciple of Rob in Kobe and they share the same values. In many ways I think that Fumi is so talented that it is hard for him to gamble on people with less ability than himself. He wants prayer that God will help him spot people with church planting potential.

Reaching The Next Generation

The wonderful thing about all these churches is the fact that they are reaching young Japanese while many other congregations are unable to do so. Please pray for even more success as the future unfolds.

Many thanks for your prayers and financial support. Without you I would never be able to assist these people as they touch Japan with the gospel.

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