Vineyard Churches UK & Ireland

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Providing Support to Those Who Go

Caroline Seal

Membercare is where we care for people from our churches who go on cross cultural missions. As churches we can support people as they prepare to go, as they are living in another country, and as they come home. Caroline Seal talks about her experience supporting mission in Japan.

Most of this support is done remotely by people from their sending church. It can be done by anyone who has a relationship with those who are abroad. With the missionaries we support we help them feel connected to the church, sending out care packages, both electronically and physically – although this can be more difficult if the local postal system is not good. When they come for a visit, we help them to find accommodation locally if needed and to find a car. We also put on events like an open house so they can meet more people in one go rather than visiting people every day! Although we do provide some financial support, our role is more to pray for their finances as God usually provides that in ways none of us had expected.

For our missionaries in Japan, a group of us have had a video call with them most months since 2010, where we hear how things are and pray for them. We also try to do one a month by ourselves with them, to connect at a deeper level. 

Occasionally it is really helpful to go and visit your missionaries, for pastoral care, to learn more directly about their lives, joys and challenges, and to meet their friends and visit their ministries for yourselves, so you can pray more effectively for them. In November 2023 I had another opportunity to visit our missionaries in Japan. Japan has less than 1% Christians. The majority of the population has ties to Buddhism or Shintoism, although the country is becoming more secular over time.

There are 8 Vineyard churches across Japan and our friends are members of one just outside of Tokyo. They are involved in music ministries to reach out to the Japanese people they interact with. Heidi runs gospel choirs including a family choir, and Dave is involved in the electronic music scene. He plays Noise Music which Japan has been at the forefront of since the 80s, and a diverse cross-section of Japanese Musicians, especially on the fringes of Japanese society, find that it speaks powerfully to them. He also writes blogs and is working on a book looking at the interaction between what the Bible says about sound and how it links with his music. You can check out his music based on the story of Elijah and some of his writing here

During my time there I was able to meet Hataken, a musician friend of Dave’s. He is the only person who has become a Christian directly through their ministries in their time in Japan, although others are definitely on the journey. I also spent time with the coffee morning Bible study group made up of mums Heidi has met through the years. These ladies are now regularly praying to Jesus. During my trip I also just hung out with them as a family, playing with the kids, helping around the home, chatting – doing life with them. Spending time with them was a real encouragement and blessing to not only them but other missionaries they link with. The video below gives an overview of Heidi and Dave’s work in Japan.

Providing membercare is a huge privilege. As we pray, we are opening doors for them in their ministries. We are the story keepers, remembering how God has worked in the past for them and reminding them of God’s call, blessings and what he has done, particularly when things seem difficult. As we support them and do what God has called us to do, they are enabled to do what God has called them to do.

There are resources available to assist you in supporting those who are in other countries that you can find here

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