By Stan Friedman
FARMINGTON HILLS, MI (December 8, 2014) — On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a white rose was placed on the altar at Faith Covenant Church to represent a woman who had come to Christ through a Conversational English Class (CEC) that is a ministry to Japanese women in the area. Her family attended the service, and to show their support, five women from the CEC attended as well.
She had experienced the gospel through members of the CEC class and the church. She made the commitment after attending one of the class’s outreaches, a Thanksgiving dinner and cooking demonstration for about 90 local Japanese residents who had moved from their native country to work in the Detroit area.
The class is part of a larger work known as the North American Japanese Outreach (NAJO) led by Shunichi and Masako Miyamoto, missionaries from the Japan Covenant Church to the Detroit area. The Japanese come to the United States to work. Some 30 women attend the Monday morning class, and as many as 17 people attend a Bible study through which three have become Christians.
Faith Covenant Church, which is one of the area Covenant congregations that helps support NAJO, served up the traditional American dinner, said Sue Ormand, the church’s mission chair, who also demonstrated how to cook the meal, including the turkey.
“Men and women were riveted by each step in the process, and many photographed various steps in preparing the Thanksgiving meal,” Ormand said. Some of the participants went on to try the recipes at home, replacing the turkey with smaller chickens.
This was the fourth year the church had invited women in its Conversational English Class and their families. “The women are eager to learn how to cook American vegetables and a Thanksgiving meal. I am amazed at how they are eager to learn not only the language but American ways as well. Just as we aren’t familiar with how to cook Asian vegetables they want to know how to prepare vegetables from our farmers markets and stores.”
The dinner also provided another opportunity for Japanese husbands to be introduced to the church, as many do not attend services. At least for a night there was something of a cultural change: Japanese men helped clean tables and chairs afterward. “Amazing!” Masako said.
Last year the Miyamotos spearheaded a two-week trip to the United States for Japanese youth who live Fukushima, Japan, site of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster.