In 2018 God led JCL Mission Partners Katsutoshi and Yukiko Shimizu to plant South London Japanese Church in Sutton. Katsutoshi shares the story with us.

Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

This was the word of God from Genesis 12:1 that I received at a New Year worship event before I left to work in the UK in 2010. I became a believer in a Japanese church in Los Angeles and since then had always wanted to serve in ministry among Japanese people living abroad. Although business was the reason for us moving to London, I felt that this was an opportunity given by God and that he had sent us.

After I arrived in London, I was engaged in various kinds of ministry for Japanese people and eventually I decided to dedicate myself to work for the Lord on a full time basis. I returned to Japan, resigned from my company, and started studying at a seminary.

Now I have finished my three-year course and have been sent back to London by Sakae Bible Church (a member of the Japan Evangelical Church Association) as a missionary to the Japanese people here, and also to those elsewhere in the UK and Europe. During my time at the seminary in Japan, some of the people with whom we had shared the gospel in the UK became Christians. I came to share the idea of church planting with those who were serving the ministry, and we decided to establish a Japanese church in south London.

Although the members come from various backgrounds and are all unique, we have started our church with a vision to be united in Christ.

During my time living abroad I became more aware of the many unique differences that individual Christians have and how these differences can make it difficult for the church to be united. Through my various experiences I learned that we must stand firm upon core evangelical beliefs in order to build a church.

It is much more likely for Japanese people to become Christians while living abroad than at home in Japan. Some say that it is up to thirty times as likely! However, sadly, many of them lose their faith when they return. Although there may be many reasons for this, I think these returnees need proper, Bible- centred discipleship training before they go home. Moved by these circumstances, we came to share in our vision of church planting and established South London Japanese Church at Easter this year.

Now, about 20 people, including children, gather and worship God together. Although the members come from various backgrounds and are all unique, we started our church with the vision of being united in Christ. In this inaugural half-year, we have started to hold regular prayer meetings and Bible studies. We are enjoying communal meals as God’s family by having picnics or barbecues. We are now preparing for various outreach activities but first we want to get into the Japanese community by building networks among the local Japanese. We plan to host a mothers and toddlers’ group, a porcelain painting class and tea and cake parties, among other things. In particular, Christmas is a great opportunity for evangelism and we have already started to pray about this. Please pray for our work so that many Japanese in this land can come to know our Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Katsutoshi Shimizu, JCL Mission Partner