Kaori Christian Church started in 1999, with a team of five missionaries working together to start a church in a town called Shiga Town (population 22,000, no church), in Shiga prefecture, north-east of Kyoto city. At first we began with Bible studies and English classes in our own homes, before starting formal wor-ship services in a rented classroom in the centre of the town. The very first contacts were two ladies. One of them was a close friend of a Christian in Tokyo and through her friend's witness had decided to look for a church just as we moved into Shiga. The other one had had been recom-mended to go to church by her Christian daughter in America. One of the women was baptised in 2003, the other one had remained on the fringe of the church – and then suddenly got baptised a few weeks ago, praise God!
In the early days we did regular leaflet drops to the houses in and around the town centre. We also had a long-running project to put an introduction leaflet to the church into every post box in Shiga town.
After two years, in 2001, we began to rent a small shop on the ground floor underneath the rented classroom. We were able to have our small group Bible studies and English classes in this shop, and to put eye-catching displays with scripture in the shop window. Many, many people have received a little bit of God's Word through those displays over the years. In time we were also able to rent the bigger shop next door. At the mo-ment this is used for the worship services, a weekly Korean class and special outreach events. For several years we also had a mothers and toddlers club running there.
Through various activities many people have come into contact with the church and have heard the gospel in some way, but the number of people in the Sunday worship service has only very rarely got above ten. Mrs. Yoshinaga is a non-Christian who has been coming most weeks since the autumn.
Some people have become Christians and we now have five who have be-lieved and been baptised, four wives of retired men and one fifteen year-old girl. Two of the husbands (Mr. Niwayama and Mr. Teramori) are coming to the Korean class (run by Dean Kim) every week and an-other husband (Mr. Furuya) regularly attends a home group in his house. Please pray for these men to come to faith.
It has been great to see church people getting more involved in taking turns in leading the worship service and Bible studies. Two ladies have just taken on responsibility for the church treasurer's role.
The team of five missionaries was reduced to three in 2006 when Martin and Julie Crowhurst moved to the church in Hikone. There will be more changes this year. In the summer Peter and Edi Wilson and their family will leave the team, leaving Jocelyn as the only original team member. She will be in New Zealand from February until the end of May. The good news is that Ron and Yoshimi Caseley will join the team in April. Please pray for the personnel changes to go smoothly, for Ron and Yoshimi to quickly find their feet in their new setting, for more people to be saved and for the church to be built up.