Accelerating Spiritual Renewal and Church Multiplication Movements – John and Elaine Mehn

Transforming Leaders

March 31st, 2014 by John

“This was really good timing for me personally. I needed to be reminded of the truths of the gospel – especially the part that I am dearly loved and valued by God. I am greatly challenged to soak in these truths more.”

We saw and heard a lot about heart change. Last month Elaine and I were caught up in the renewal environment we developed in 4 regional Church Planting Institute (CPI) seminars throughout Japan. In total over 120 leaders received training in Gospel Renewal in Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. These seminars were done in conjunction with Josiah and Barbara Bancroft of World Harvest Mission. CPI has been partnering with World Harvest Mission to develop training systems for gospel renewal for Japan.

You see we believe Gospel-driven churches need to be led by gospel-driven leaders. The purpose is to equip leaders depend more on the Work of Christ as their power source for life and ministry. The seminars’ 4 lessons were Righteousness, Honesty, Loving Relationships, and Mission.

Here are some comments of the benefits from the participants. You can see heart change for boldness, freedom, honesty and dealing with failure.
• [I learned] I’m more performance driven rather than Gospel driven.
• I think [the seminar] placed a great emphasis on honesty. It’s something not often discussed in church. If ever, not in such matter.
• Killing the idol “fear of man” and deeper understanding of my sinfulness.
• More boldness in sharing the truth of the Gospel.
• Living and proclaiming freedom from fear of man in my life and in my church.
• The method of sharing and learning thru failure and pointing to Christ as the solution is refreshing.

Last month, in developing these training systems we accomplished many of our goals as 1) along with the Bancrofts 6 trainers took part and learned from this master teacher on Gospel Renewal. 2) Important progress was made on the new Walking in the Gospel manual in both English and Japanese. This manual was first introduced at last fall’s CPI Conference. 3) These 6 trainers taught 7 lessons for the first time and also two people shared their gospel stories. We have just raised up another batch of trainers. Elaine and I for the first time learned to present 3 of the 4 lessons.

In addition there was a Leaders’ Summit on Gospel Renewal with about 30 in attendance. We discussed gospel discipling and leadership along with future plans for seven projects to develop more grace-based renewal resources, developing more trainers, and curriculum and seminar content. So the development of transforming leaders for transforming churches continues.

Our CPI Vision is to multiply leaders for multiplying gospel-driven churches. We begin with the leader and their heart. As we want to be gospel-driven in all that we do as one participant shared, “Remembering the Gospel is the key, not a specific tool, program, or method.”

We will continue regional training throughout Japan in 2014. The next batch of training will be Church Planting Next Steps seminars in three locations. In April we will be in Nagoya, Kansai in June, and our mega-seminar in Tokyo in November. In this CPI 20th anniversary we could train more people than ever. Continue to pray as we impact leaders’ hearts and also their strategies for new churches. Pray as we develop more trainers so we can multiply even more leaders.

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March 31st, 2014 by John

1. Thank you for praying for Agape Kai gathering on Sat 3/29. We had a marvelous time talking about the true meaning of Easter.
2. On 3/31 John completed the small group leaders training at the Nerima church with 9 people ready to start a small group (report next month). Pray for the next steps in developing small group ministries at Nerima and beyond.
3. Elaine’s niece Gail will be coming for a week-long visit in April. Ask God to bless this family time.
4. Pray for God’s rich blessing on those registering to attend the April 28-30 church planting seminar.
5. Ask for gospel change as we continue with personal spiritual mentoring. This month Elaine and John begin with a missionary couple and John begins with one missionary leader.

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March 10th, 2014 by John

1. Thank you for your prayers for the CPI Gospel Renewal Seminars with the Bancrofts which just completed. All of them were full of blessings and so much was accomplished in developing systems to help more people (update next month).
2. Vision team from Converge Worldwide churches in the US arrives this week. Pray they may find key Japanese partners to work with.
3. John’s training for small group leaders at the Nerima church ends on March 30th. Pray that many of those trained may lead a small group in the near future.
4. Pray for our entire Japan mission as we prepare for our Spring Field Council April 2-4.

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March 10th, 2014 by John

• Ask God to sustain the over 300,000 who lost their homes and are still living in temporary housing. The Ishinomaki house of prayer is addressing the needs of 40 families. There are many other Christian ministries doing the same.
• With over 20,000 dead or missing there is still a lot of loss and grief. Loved ones, friends, classmates, neighbors. Pray that they may be comforted by the listening ear and words of Christians.
• 86 communities are still rebuilding their lives, families, and neighborhoods. Pray for Christian witness to continue to expand in the months ahead.
• Many churches and agencies have sent missionaries and pastors and Christian workers. Pray for their strength and creativity as they continue ministry.
• Pray for Dean & Linda Bengtson, Mr. Hajime Abe and the Ishinomaki House of Prayer that they may see the church planted in the Shintate and Urayashiki neighborhoods of Ishinomaki.

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Disaster – Three Years After

March 10th, 2014 by John

March 11, 2011 is memorialized all over Japan. The triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident are still very fresh in people’s minds. Just last week we received a flyer for a memorial meeting in Machida to remember those who lost so much three years ago. Machida had two deaths due to the earthquake. This month will mark 3 years after the disaster.

Japan Disaster Response – Early on, with the cooperation of North American churches, Converge Worldwide distributed supplies, helped clean up neighborhoods, was on site to listen to many hurting people, and helped rebuild homes in conjunction with ministry partners. Converge Worldwide sent timely funds and sponsored over 250 volunteers on over 20 teams to assist in responding to this disaster. For us that ministry has ended but continues through the lives of our ministry partners.

Ministry in Word and Deed – Elaine and John were in Tohoku in February, first visiting ministry friends in Iwaki City Fukushima and then working in Ishinomaki with our ministry partners. Ministry began with the biggest snowfall in the city in 91 years. Due to the difficulty of driving, we had to cancel John preaching at the Ishinomaki House of Prayer. Instead, we noticed the whole neighborhood shoveling in front of their houses as the city has no plows or equipment for removing snow from the street. This allowed us and Dean & Linda Bengtson to connect with neighbors by helping them shovel out. This was a great connection for the concert to be held the following weekend.

Building Relationships
• Elaine had 4 greeting card classes in which she shared the love of Christ. Nine ladies attended and shared their struggles as they try to emotionally recover.
• John and Elaine were able to meet several families we have helped over the last several years sharing the gospel with them and praying for them.
• John and Dean visited some other families, one man was studying the Bible and we were able to share the gospel story with him. Pray for all these people as they continue to be followed up by local Christians.
• John met with two families that have been helped by Converge Worldwide funds to rebuild their homes. One family hopes to be back in their home in March.
• Our Converge Worldwide Japan mission has been helping a temporary housing center with supplies for the last 3 years. John and Elaine were able to meet with several of the families as they distributed supplies. We were encouraged that after this winter season everyone will be on their feet enough where this will not be needed next year. John was asked to present a short message to them where he shared from John 3:16. Mrs. Abe said that message was more meaningful than I could have shared on Sunday in church.

Planting Churches – From the beginning the ministry of our partners, Dean & Linda Bengtson and Mr. Hajime Abe has been targeted to plant churches in the Shintake and Urayashiki neighborhoods; neighborhoods which never had a church. Well things are moving to the next stage for church planting. One home will be rented later this year to be used as a community center, for housing volunteers, and holding Bible studies and worship services. Our mission has helped get that home ready for occupancy. For video on this next step http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCFcy6wgcvg

From Disaster to the Kingdom of God – Rengo churches and Converge Worldwide teams worked in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures. Many churches have established ministries in the area and also many missionaries have relocated to the area. In Ishinomaki alone, a city of 150,000 before the massive tsunami, there were only 7 churches which averaged about 10 per church. Today there are over 12 churches and numbers have swelled in many of them. One house church has on average 50 people coming weekly! There have been many who have been baptized. Like the rest of Japan, this area is still hard work with the gospel but the days are encouraging for churches throughout Japan.

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February 4th, 2014 by John

1) John was recently sitting across the table from a Cambodian pastor that was planting 8 churches and heavily involved in preventing human sex trafficking. Last month, John was in Indonesia to meet with key Asian national leaders engaged in church planting movements. It was a week of blessing with these pastors. John’s friendship with a former Japan missionary led to this connection.
2) For Elaine’s next craft outreach meeting there was a pastor’s wife from another church and several Christians who want to start this same craft ministry. Elaine’s friendship with another local church a pastor’s wife is leading to further ministry.

The longer you are in ministry the more connections you have built with other kingdom-minded people. We love to think how other worker’s ministry needs could be met if they knew some people and their resources. This is the Kingdom. No one gets credit. No one gets served. We all serve Him who served us that many more may meet Jesus and be a vital part of His church. Kingdom-minded networking with other Christians always leads to more evangelism and church planting. Pray as the goal is to form a church planting network for Japan and for the East Asia region. Pray also as Elaine’s ministries can multiply though other leaders in other ministries.

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February 4th, 2014 by John

Elaine and John will visit Iwaki city and Pastor Mori and his family then head to Ishinomaki. We will be working with Dean and Linda Bengston. Elaine will teach craft classes and John will visit many victims families. Also on Sunday John will preach at Ishinomaki House of Prayer, and we will visit the temporary housing facility where we have been helping with supplies. Pray for safe travel during this winter season, opportunities to listen, build relationships, and share Christ.

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February 4th, 2014 by John

CPI has developed a partnership with World Harvest Mission (www.whm.org). The director of mission, Josiah Bancroft and his wife Barbara will be visiting Japan and tying up again with CPI. From 2/28 to 3/8 CPI will be building on the Gospel Renewal Seminars highlighted at last fall’s CPI National Conference. Seminars will be in four major cities, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. Elaine will be training in three, John probably in 4 along with a Leaders’ summit to be held in Tokyo. Please intercede on our behalf for the miles of traveling, long hours of training, times for preparation and rest. We expect God to train maybe 200 people over this intensive 8 days.

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Feb Prayer Items

February 4th, 2014 by John

“[Prayer] is a labor for which there is no substitute in the kingdom of God.” O. Hallesby

1. Elaine’s next card making outreach is 1/15 at the Crossroad church.
2. Ask for God’s blessing for our 1/16 Agape group meeting for Valentines.
3. John continues small group leaders training at the Nerima church. Pray for these 15 people’s growth.
4. Thank you for praying for wisdom, along with other decisions, the CPI national conference in 2015 is moving venues to a very new hotel by one of the lakes around Mount Fuji.
5. Elaine is spiritually mentoring with a Japanese lady. Pray for growth and blessing.

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Hikikomori Answers

February 1st, 2014 by John

Five years ago I wrote a blog on the psychological scourge affecting a large number of young people, hikikomori. I have not heard much good news from five years ago until now. Last week Elaine and I had lunch with Pastor Koichi Hirano and Pastor Nobuo Watanabe at their Setagaya church’s new café. We had not talked with Pastor Hirano for several months and he shared some amazing stories.

The Hikikomori are the Japanese most open to the gospel told Pastor Koichi Hirano of the Tokyo Horizon Chapel. This was not just his opinion but his experience from decades of Japanese ministry and current successes with Hikikomori young people. He explained to us that he just returned from taking a group of 16 of a two-week tour of the US, which he insists is necessary as it removes them completely from their context. He also took a group again in November. Of the Hikikomori kids he has been working with several have followed the Lord in baptism, many are living more normal lives, and some have gone into full-time Christian ministry. He does not work alone in this ministry but they have five licensed counselors working together and a professional psychologist.

For my previous blog on Hikikomori see http://www.gospelrest.com/understanding-hikikomori/

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