Mary Jo was introduced to Asian Access at an Urbana missions conference and went to Japan on their summer program, Scrum Dendo. This is when her heart was captured for the Japanese. In 1983, shortly after graduating from college, she began a three-year term with Asian Access that began in Tokyo and has yet to end. During those three years she attended language school, taught at an English language institute while assisting in a new church plant, and served full-time in training and overseeing all short-term missionary staff.
Mary Jo met Michael while she was serving in the home office in Southern California not long after returning from her initial three-years in Japan. Mike had recently returned from short-term service in China, and they were married in 1989. As a family of four they arrived in Japan in June of 1994 when their son was an infant and their daughter was three.
As a family they served seven years in Tokyo in partnership with Nerima Grace Chapel to plant a new cell church, Kiyose Grace Chapel. In the early stages Mike and Mary Jo served on the pastoral team. After the church was established and a Japanese pastor took the lead, they transferred to Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan. There they recruited and provided leadership for two Church Multiplication Networks over seven years. Their passion is to see healthy, reproducing disciples and churches throughout Japan, believing personal transformation in Christ and the ongoing development of leaders are two keys to accomplishing this task. After 15 years in Japan they returned to the States to encourage their young adult children in preparing for their futures. Now from their home base in Los Angeles, Mary Jo and Mike continue to be involved in leadership in Japan and other parts of Asia.
Mary Jo has an MA in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary (2014). In 2007 she passed the top level Japanese language proficiency test and is currently completing a certification as a trainer in Emotional Intelligence through Talent Smart. Mary Jo and Mike are both FOCCUS (premarital) and REFOCCUS (married couples) facilitators.
Before meeting Mary Jo, Mike worked at Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 12 years and taught English in China. Mike has an MA in Intercultural Studies (1990) and DMiss with an emphasis in disciple and church multiplication from Biola University (2010).
Mary Jo served as Vice President for Japan from March of 2011, just days before the triple disaster that devastated Northeastern Japan, until May of 2015 when her title was changed to VP for Missional Engagement. This change in title reflects a broader engagement in Asia while Mary Jo’s key focus remains overseeing missionary staff in Japan, the Asian Access strategic partnership with SIM, and nurturing missional partnerships between leaders and expat missionaries in Japan. She also serves on the Asian Access Japan board of Directors. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the team during this season of Japan’s history and feel privileged to work with so many outstanding leaders across Japan and other countries of Asia and the U.S.”
Meaningful aspects of ministry:
In response to local needs in the Tokyo area we developed a ministry called “Couple Time” where six couples met monthly for a themed talk and prayer together and then as couples were sent out for deeper discussion over dinner. We saw this simple approach bring dramatic change to these couples, some of whom had never gone out without kids since marriage and several who were in a very difficult season.
In Okinawa we were introduced to the ten-week ALPHA Course, which we ran three times in our home. The course was ideal for training new leaders and provided an open and fun format for Japanese friends to come together and explore the Christian faith. At one ALPHA party our little apartment was jammed with 29 new people! By the end of the third course, many had found faith in Christ and six were baptized and a new church was started.
What do I see as my "ultimate contributions":
- Two children who grow to love God and make Him known wherever they go
- Developing servant leaders, both men and women of all ages, who have a clear sense of call and are growing in both character and competence and making a difference for Christ in their world
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