Resources: Grace Notes Features

Sixty Years of Networking, Sushi Style                      

by Pastor Dean Lueking     

It’s rare to plant a seed of the Spirit and see its flowering sixty years later.

That was my privilege recently as the preacher for the 60th Anniversary of Ofuna Lutheran Church near Yokohama, Japan. I began a Bible class there in l952 in the home of a Japanese family, part of a two year seminary internship that changed my life.   

During the decades since, Japanese pastors and laity have visited us at Grace. Beverly and I have been back to Japan a half dozen times.  Congregation to congregation ties have deepened as a result. The special bonus this time was to have our granddaughters Ellie and Kjerstin Anderson along. They were like sponges, soaking up every minute with all things Japanese.

What’s special about the Spirit’s handiwork in Ofuna is the visionary work of establishing Christian nursery schools. There are now five in the area serving around 1000 toddlers, which means Christian contact with a thousand Japanese parents who care passionately about the early education of their children.

Japanese Christians number 1% of the l20-million population. They are vastly more influential than their minuscule number, leavening Japanese education, art, and literature with their Christian witness. Ofuna is considered a robust congregation with its average Sunday worship attendance of 75 or so.

As a result of our Japan trip, a high school junior from Tokyo was with us for a month in early summer, visiting various Grace members at work and home locations and getting acquainted with teenagers here.  Everybody gains in these exchanges, especially when youth connect in friendships that last well into their future lives.  We know that from experience.  If you’re interested in knowing more, please email us at   

Read more about the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.

June 26. 2012

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