Honshu is the largest of the four main islands of Japan. Aomori is the name of the prefecture at the northern end of Honshu. It is a rural prefecture with a declining population, and its economy relies on farming, forestry, and fishing.
In early November, I had the chance to travel there to meet with a group of pastors and discuss ways that Asian Access could potentially partner with what God is already doing in the region. On Friday morning, Pastor Shibuya picked me up, along with five other people from his church, to make the hour-long drive to the city of Hirakawa (until recently, one of the last cities in Japan without a church).
As we drove to the prayer meeting, I mentioned to Pastor Shibuya that the apple trees on the hills surrounding the highway were beautiful. These days, Aomori produces over half of all the apples in Japan. It was early November, and the apple harvest was starting. Small trees covered with big red apples filled many of the hills we passed along the highway. It was a beautiful sight.
At the prayer meeting, there were several local pastors as well as a visiting leader from Australia and another missionary from Osaka. Their churches are bearing faithful witness to the gospel in a challenging region and working to plant churches where they do not already exist. I was impressed that Pastor Shibuya was able to bring four young leaders in their 20s to a meeting like this on a weekday. I was struck by how these churches will be working to plant new churches and reach their communities with or without our help.
During our time together at the meeting pastor, Shibuya returned to the apple narrative. He discussed how Aomori did not always have apples. A missionary named John Ing brought the first apple trees to Aomori in 1875. From those first few trees, apples have become one of the dominant industries in the prefecture. Pastor Shibuya used the example to show how God can use our seemingly small efforts to bear tremendous fruit.
Identifying the right people is one of the keys to fruitful ministry and a core value of Asian Access. Almost 150 years ago, John Ing saw that apples were good for the soil in Aomori. Pastor Shibuya and others are already multiplying disciples in Aomori. I am excited to see how we may be able to cooperate with what He is already doing in Aomori.
Want to Come to Serve in Aomori this Summer?
Aomori is one of the areas A2 is targeting for short-term teams in 2020.
APPLICATION DEADLINE: Feb. 1, 2020
- To learn more about joining a short-term team in 2020, read about it here... If you want to apply, please click on this link: www.simusa.org/japan2020
Original article was first published on January 8, 2020 by go2japan:
- According to aptinet, Aomori Sightseeing Guide:
- "As Japan’s leading producer of apples, Aomori Prefecture produces more than half of all the apples harvested in Japan. They are stored under strictly controlled conditions to retain their quality and full taste so that you can enjoy delicious apples throughout the year."
- Robert Adair's staff profile page...