In the summer of 2018 our Pillar Okinawa family launched Gospel to Okinawa, or, GTO. Our stated purpose was to do whatever we could to spark and sustain a gospel-centered church-revitalization and church-planting movement in Okinawa, with the hope of partnering with at least two new Okinawan church plants by 2022.
On Thursday evening, October 25, we hosted our first GTO gathering. We worked and prayed hard. But, just one Okinawan pastor, and a small handful of curious people participated. It was exceptionally tempting to feel as though that first event was a failure – we were discouraged, to say the least. But, time would reveal, in God’s kind providence, that one pastor, Kazunari Fukushima, was the reason we put all the time and effort into that event on October 25. What felt like failure was in reality an absolutely critical moment where a relationship was formed and a shared passion for church planting in Okinawa was discovered. That night, a gospel seed was planted deep in rich, life-giving soil.
Pastor Kaz joined our team, and worked relentlessly to help us take another shot at gathering Okinawan pastors. His participation and leadership were exactly what we needed. We set a date of January 21 for the next GTO event.
In December we asked our church family to pray specifically that God would lead 10 Okinawans to participate in our next GTO gathering, and of that 10, that just 5 would commit to participate in an 18 month cohort, facilitated by a training team from Christ Bible Institute’s center for Church planting in Japan, known as the Joy of Japan Center. God answered our prayers – with great specificity and abundance. On Friday, January 21, 10 Okinawans, pastors and pastors’ wives, attended our GTO gathering. Ten. The exact number we prayed for.
But it get’s better. Word had already begun to spread. As of the writing of this update, 12 Okinawans have committed to participate in the ongoing cohort – which will focus on gospel-centered church planting and church revitalization in Okinawa. By the time we begin this cohort on Friday, April 12, based on what we’re hearing we really believe we could see as many as 15-20 Okinawan leaders participating! That is an exceptionally abundant answer to our very specific prayer for 5 ministry leaders.
Thank you for praying with us. Thank you for giving to make this possible. Thank you for your ongoing partnership in the work of the gospel in Okinawa.
Gratefully, Jon Ransom
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” – Habakkuk 2:14