Immanuel General Mission in Japan
Less than 1 percent of Japanese claim to be Christian, and more than 80 percent seriously doubt that God exists. Despite these glaring statistics, there are many available opportunities to evangelize and disciple the Japanese through church ministries. Immanuel General Mission is an indigenous Japanese denomination that was started in 1945.
Dr. David Tsutada was a pastor before World War II. During the war, he was imprisoned by the Japanese authorities because of his belief in the second coming of Christ and his strong Christian witness. While Dr. Tsutada was in prison, God told him to begin a new denomination after the war. In October 1945, Dr. Tsutada started Immanuel General Mission in Japan.
By 1966, Immanuel churches had entered all 46 prefectures (states) in Japan. To date, almost 4,000 people attend worship each week in 110 IGM congregations throughout the country. Churches vary in size from less than 10 people to close to 250 in attendance.
“Many people have come to know Jesus through the work of Immanuel General Mission,” shared WGM Japan Field Director Kevin Zirkle. “In the early days of the church, a man who was an alcoholic happened by the place where a church was having a special evangelistic service. The man went in and heard the gospel. He repented and was changed. He became involved in the church’s ministries and for many years was a strong layman. This man’s son became an IGM pastor, and today his grandson is still serving as an IGM pastor.”
As IGM grew, Dr. Tsutada saw the need to train pastors for the ministry. He founded Immanuel Bible Training College in Yokohama in 1949. Graduates of the college are appointed to pastor a church, pioneer a new church, or serve on a mission field outside of Japan, making them an integral part of the growth of IGM.
David and Edna Kuba, WGM’s first missionaries to Japan, arrived in 1952. They quickly learned of IGM and felt that the national church and WGM shared the same doctrine and outlook on ministry. IGM invited the Kubas to teach at Immanuel Bible Training College and to minister in IGM churches. This began the ongoing partnership that the national church in Japan and WGM continue to this day, including an IGM pastor serving on WGM’s Board of Directors.
“WGM missionaries participate in a variety of ministries in Immanuel churches,” Kevin noted. “Presently, there are English classes for kids and mothers that include a craft time; an English Bible study led by a WGM missionary that meets twice a month; and missionaries are asked to preach in IGM churches, either for special occasions such as evangelistic or holiness meetings or to fill the pulpit for pastors who are away.”
Additional ministries held in cooperation with IGM include: outreach to youth, university students, and career-aged young people and summer church camps.
“Using WGM missionaries is a way for the church to connect with people and attract people,” Kevin explained. “Having a native English speaker teach English brings people in, and churches also have relationships with several new people because of the kids’ English classes and the English Bible studies. Establishing a relationship with someone is absolutely essential in Japan before a meaningful presentation of the gospel can be made. English ministries at the churches enable this contact and give the Japanese a connection to the church.”
PRAY: Please pray that the Japanese will be open to hearing the gospel and that national believers and missionaries will be able to present God’s truth and love in vital, relevant ways.
Pray also that the Lord will supply the needed pastors for IGM churches.
GO: Do you want to go to Japan? Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can visit Japan and help meet the needs on the field. As missionaries are available, IGM welcomes assistance, especially with youth ministry.
SHARE: View a speaker outline for Immanuel General Mission in Japan.