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Up in the Nagano Mountains of Japan, at the end of a sloping gravel driveway, sits a tidy, white cabin. Just a short drive from Tokyo, this dwelling feels worlds away from the bustle of the city’s 37 million residents.
Ralph and Joan bought the home with the intention of using it as an escape from the heat and crowds of Tokyo. Situated beside the brilliant blue Nojiri Lake, in the shade of the mountain forests, it was an ideal respite. The couple would often invite their church friends who needed time away as well.
Though their primary ministry activities were in Tokyo—hosting church services in their home and discipling people in Bible studies and community events—about once a year the couple used this cabin in the mountains for ministry. They would host their cycling group for several days and use the extended time together to show Jesus to these friends who didn’t know Him, employing their gifts of hospitality and conversation as they enjoyed nature together.
Earlier this year when COVID-19 thrust the city into lockdown, many of Ralph’s friends despaired. “This is terrible,” they lamented. “Now we can’t meet.”
“Well, that just means God has something else,” Ralph replied confidently.
As more of his friends bemoaned the lack of connection, Ralph had an idea. “Come up to the cabin!”
Many eagerly accepted his offer, and not just friends from church, but from throughout his circle of influence—specifically those who didn’t yet know Jesus. Ralph and Joan were excited to realize the ministry possibilities as their connections safely gathered at the cabin to relax. It didn’t take long before they had to keep careful track to make sure everyone got a turn.
“We’ve had more ministry up here than we ever have!” Ralph shares. And it isn’t slowing down—they have outreach events scheduled into November.
COVID-19 disrupted many plans. But people were driven to seek community in unlikely places, and some found themselves in a small, unassuming cabin in the mountains, experiencing the love of Jesus for the first time.
You can be part of Ralph and Joan’s ministry by giving to them below!