Hi everyone! Life in Toyko has been pretty crazy! The amount of people that are packed into this area never ceases to amaze us. One of the train stations we frequently stop at is Shinzuku station, the busiest in the world. Roughly 3.5 million people go through this station each day. During heavy traffic times, the crowds here are a lot like rivers or currents, with thousands of people all going one direction; there are several of these currents during the busy times, and you have to pick one to get into if you want to get anywhere. Also, you’d better know where you want to go, because turning around and fighting against the flow is an awful choice (speaking from experience). The best way to turn around is to slip out of one current and step into one going the other way.
One evening, Meryl and I got into an extra-packed train heading home. We thought it was full, but we were very wrong. More and more people continued to press in through the train doors, and we became more and more packed against the people surrounding us. It was a little scary, actually. At one point Meryl said, “Uh… it’s getting kinda hard to breathe.” I’m not sure how the doors shut, but they did, and several passengers were pressed against the glass. Then the train started to move, and the ride home was one I’m pretty sure will stick out clearly in our memories for the rest of our lives. I didn’t feel like as much of a person as I did a tiny portion of a huge scoop of jello. As the train rounded each curve, we, the human jello blob, swayed with and against ourselves in perfect unison. To sum up what would be an arduous and sweaty story: we made it home and escaped out of the train, and I don’t think we’ll ever ride that train during that time of day again, if it can be avoided.
On a lighter note, we also took the time to check out Shibuya square, the busiest crosswalk in the world. During certain times of the day, somewhere from 2000 to 3000 people cross the street all at once, in several differnent directions; they call it: ‘The Scramble”, and rightly so. We purposely went there during the busy time to navigate across the square with thousands of other people. Never has crossing the street been so interesting.
Enough about crowds; here are some things about what the Lord is doing in the area:
Just recently, Meryl and I had the opportunity of going to help out at an outreach being held by Calvary Logos Tokyo. The church was offering a free concert to the neighborhood, featuring an up-and-coming Christian artist. About 45 minutes before the start of the concert, some of the church members took Meryl and I out to the street corner with them to invite people to attend. We stayed outside until the last portion of the concert, which we got to sit in on. The church was packed with around 60 people or so. Kiyomasa and Taeko (Calvary Logos’ pastor and his wife) told us that about half of the attendees were Christian fans of the musician, while the other half of the group consisted of unbelievers who live nearby the church. There were also a handful of other unbelievers that the musician’s Christian fans had invited. It was great to see the turnout, and it will be interesting to see and hear in the coming months and years of the ways that God is reaching the community through this event.
On Sunday the 11th, we attended Calvary Chapel Fuchu’s morning service. We got lost on the way there, but when a local elderly woman and her granddaughter noticed us wandering around with confused looks on our faces, they broght us to the church. After the service, pastor Rich and his wife Candace told us about the ministry they are doing in their community. They run a Bible-based school for the local kids, as well as an ESL school.
Pastor Rich told us of how many of the believers who now attend Calvary Fuchu were saved as a result of the school ministry. For example, one of the children in the school had at one point asked for a Bible to take home, and was provided with a childrens’ Bible. The mother of this child then began reading this little Bible to her and realized some of the truths therein. The mother went to the school and asked for something more in-depth. The school then provided her with a Bible for herself; she recieved Christ shortly after. Rich told us a few stories like this, where the people are being reached through their children. What an awesome thing!
This Sunday, we visited another Calvary church in the area: Calvary Kokubunji, also known as “Jesus Community”. There is a good mix of younger and older people who all fellowship together at this church alongside Pastor Chizuo and his wife, Mari. Chizuo met up with us earlier this week and told us about many of the things that the Lord is doing through the church and the people there. One of their ministries is a midweek young adult study; several unbelieving people have showed up to it and have started attending after discovering it on the internet. Another ministry that is on Chizuo’s heart to eventually start is a childrens’ home outreach. To prepare himself for this, he has been spending the past year volunteering to work each week with two young children who were taken out of difficult circumstances. He told us of how this has been a very fruitful, although often difficult, growing process for him and for the children he has been ministering to.
Pastor Chizuo also shared with us about the testimony of his grandfather, who used to be a very ardent Buddhist, but came to know Christ after having the gospel shared to him. After deciding to follow Christ, One of the first things Chizuo’s grandfather did was to take all of his Buddhism-related things to the town’s river bridge. Once there, he publically tossed everything into the river; this made a clear statement of his life-change to the rest of the people in his town. He then became an evangelist, beginning by sharing the Gospel with his ardently Buddhist wife, who put her faith in Christ shortly after.
In the morning, Meryl and I are hopping onto a bullet train out of Tokyo. We’ll be gone for just over a week to visit churches up in some of the northern areas of Japan.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support! Please be praying that the Lord would be guiding us and speaking to us, and that all our trains and connections work out well.
Cameron and Meryl