Pastor Kyoko Nakamura co-founded Kumamoto Harvest Church with her husband Yoji. In 2016, a terrible earthquake hit Japan, and Mashiki, which is located near their church, was one of the places most affected. Pastor Kyoko talks about the relationship KHC has with City Harvest and the things God has been doing after the earthquake.
When I was a teenager, I received salvation at Fukuoka Harvest Church, headed by Pastor Kunio Nishida. Pastor Yoji was saved in junior high school, when he was 15. Pastor Nishida reached out to him on the streets. The day he was saved, he was water baptized.
Our first encounter with CHC was around 2000 when we were in Fukuoka Harvest Church. There was a conference at Oita Prefecture, a rural place, and Pastor Kong was the guest speaker. Before Pastor Yoji went to the meeting he had already listened to many of Pastor Kong’s sermon tapes. At the meeting, Pastor Kong taught about the Holy Spirit and how important it was to speak in tongues. We both had a desire one day to connect with this pastor!
After that conference, we felt God call us to start a new church in Kumamoto. In 2006, we started the church with 10 people—our family and another family and a few others.
That year, our denomination had a summer meeting, and we took a step of faith to invite Pastor Kong.
When Pastor Kong saw how the Japanese Christians prayed and worshiped God, he said the atmosphere of the meeting was like when he started CHC. He also said that the anointing comes through relationship. Then Pastor Kong invited all the Japanese leaders to come to Singapore to visit CHC. Pastor Yoji and I came and attended our first EMERGE conference. Our young leaders also attended CHC’s youth cell groups and participated in their camps. That was how our relationship with Pastor Kong and CHC started and grew to where it is today.
We always wondered why CHC is so kind to us, and what did we do to deserve such blessings from the church? We know this blessing can only be from God. Yoji and I are forever grateful to God for putting the burden of helping the Japanese churches in Pastor Kong’s heart and establishing this divine connection between Kumamoto Harvest Church and CHC.
Our church is very small but Pastor Kong and the team always make time to visit us, ministering the Word to us and praying for us. We really want to learn and draw closer to CHC. In 2008, Kumamoto Harvest Church entered into a covenant agreement with CHC and became a part of the CHC Family. We’re grateful God has given us this relationship and our daily lives were severely affected—the roads couldn’t be used, there was no electricity and the water supply was cut off. As our house was not safe for occupancy, our whole family had to move to the volunteer center.
We were unable to have church service because the roads were all affected. So we decided that since we cannot have people come to church to know more about Jesus, we will bring the church to them and show them Jesus.
With this new mindset, Yoji and I volunteered our church to be the storehouse for all the stuff that came from over the world. The church members worked very hard to help those affected. We removed the rubble, we distributed things like food, water, clothing to the victims. Our church also became the base for the volunteers. “Find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it”—Words that we carry in our hearts as we serve God’s people during that season of our lives.
Before the earthquake, we seldom have new friends join our weekly service. However since then, we see new friends visiting our church every week. One of our members was actually an overseas volunteer who got saved and decided to stay in our church. Touched by God’s love, he now goes on mission trips outside of Japan to share the gospel!
Our work did not end with the disaster relief efforts in 2016. Pastor Yoji has been busy with the non-profit organization, Kyushu Christ Disaster Assistance Center that he founded to coordinate relief efforts in the local communities. For the last two years, the center has been busy with rebuilding works to aid half a million Japanese people left homeless due to severe floods.
From the last three years, I have come to realize that many villages and cities in Japan never had a local church in their vicinity. Many people have never heard the gospel in their lives. When I discovered this, I have the burden to start a church in places where there is no church. But church planting is not easy. Before preaching the Gospel, we have to build relationships first.
God told me not to focus on having big numbers in our church, but to plant as many churches as possible. He encouraged me from Matthew 5:14-16:
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We are excited to be a part of God’s plan for revival in Japan and make a difference in the lives of His people!