My name is John Elliot (Canadian). My wife Laurie (American) and I have been in Christian service in Japan since 1979, first with a mission organization, and since 2018 with The Japan Evangelical Church Association (JECA). We have spent most of that time in Ajigasawa, a small west coast town in Aomori Prefecture, on the northern tip of Honshu.
JECA is a fellowship of some 200 independent churches, spread over the entire length of Japan. JECA is theologically conservative and Bible-based. Ajigasawa Gospel Church was opened in 1961 by a missionary. Missionaries served here for 4 years, then the small group was handed over to the care of a JECA church in the nearby city of Goshshogawara. This church asked us to help.
We moved to Ajigasawa in 1985 and took over the small house church. In 1995, we were able to buy a plot of land, and build a church and pastor's house.
There are no other churches for a 50-60 minutes drive to the north and east, and for 3 hours to the south (west is the Sea of Japan). The population of our town and neighboring Fukaura, to the south, is 20,000. We have 9 members from the 2 towns, and some adherents as well. Not much to show for all those year's work? Welcome to Japan. This is the reality here.
So- What are we doing? Primarily, we stand by the faithful Christians and assist them in spiritual growth and evangelism. I did monthly children's meetings in several locations for 20 years, until school amalgamations (from 12 schools to 2) made that impractical. We have special meetings and English classes to reach out to the community.
Our 5 children attended local schools, and one of our daughters married a farmer here, so we have grandchildren in school now. My wife is preparing to write a book about passing on the faith to one's family. This is an area of need here. The book will be her master's thesis. She has many opportunities to reach out to students in her university.
Our small congregation is unable to provide a full pastor's salary. I do part-time work to supplement my income. Donations to this pastor's salary fund will free me up to concentrate on ministry.
Ajigasawa Gospel Church,
121-5 Higashi Abeno, Ajigasawa,
Aomori, Japan 038-2761