The biggest news in the NORTHSTAR community has come from the re-opening of a major attraction in the village. For over a year, the NORTHSTAR team has helped plan the development of an outdoor recreation area that will bring modern campsites, playfields, a star watching lookout, café, and a high ropes course nearby.
The local city provided the funding for these developments, but they will not be responsible for the overall management of the facilities. So, they took the opportunity to work with locals in this community to apply for a role in managing a part of these facilities.
After receiving final approval this past December by the city council, they eagerly began to gear up for the grand re-opening of the new facilities renamed the Norikura BASE. It will be the “base” for camping, outdoor-related events, mountain biking, team building, ropes course, and other activities that will be a blessing to this community.
The NORTHSTAR team intends to take advantage of this space by expanding some of their programs there, particularly mountain biking, as well as using the ropes course and campsite for some of their own visiting groups.
Honestly, there are so many unique opportunities in the midst of challenge to learn more about ourselves, who God made us to be, and about God’s character. NORTHSTAR Director Brad is really looking forward to seeing how God will use these activities for something bigger than just a challenging physical experience. He hopes to see guests have a more spiritual and personal interaction with the God who made us and loves us.
And God has already started making Brad’s hope a reality.
Because of their involvement from the start, the NORTHSTAR team has been able to invest in the management process spiritually also. During typical opening ceremonies in Japan, a Shinto priest would usually be invited to lead a portion of the ceremony in prayer. However, this time around we requested that due to our participation we could alternatively do a “Christian” version.
Sadly, the council denied their request initially, but the conversation reopened when the Shinto religious portion of the ceremony was canceled. Since many of the facility’s staff members still desired the feeling of safety and protection that a religious ceremony would provide, they compromised by allowing the NORTHSTAR team pray for the staff and facilities at a new staff assembly.
Adding even more joy to the occasion, some of NORTHSTAR’s board members were able to join in for this significant moment. Their longest-serving board member and local pastor, Takeshi, lead everyone in a prayer to the Creator God.
Standing outside in a full circle with the spring mountain in the backdrop, they prayed to God with the locals who had probably never heard prayer like that before. Unlike the formulaic and ritualistic prayers of a Shinto priest or the chants of a Buddhist monk, Takeshi prayed directly to our Maker for spiritual eyes to see and comprehend the real and true Designer of the natural beauty that lay all around them.
The opportunity to pray before these Japanese people and before the start of many more spiritual opportunities at the Norikura base was truly an incredible blessing.
Please pray that through NORTHSTAR’s interactions with these new co-workers they can boldly and deeply declare the goodness of the Lord and all that He has for them.