Gerald and Rie Neufeld, who left Canada for Japan last year, are taking an active part in the life of Japanese churches while still relating to their Surrey, B.C., congregation, where Gerald previously pastored.
In a recent report, he writes:
“As of the beginning of April, we have finally officially begun working with the Tokyo Area Fellowship of Mennonite Churches (TAFMC). We now receive from them an annual budget of $4,200, which they hope to increase as they are able. TAFMC has also sent an invitation to work together with Mennonite Church Canada Witness. MC Canada will be providing a volunteer support package that will help with some expenses.
“Jeanette Hanson, MC Canada’s International Witness director, continues to be a great support for us as we tread new ground with our mission worker role being redefined as ‘relationship catalysts.’
“With the Anabaptist Centre committee, we continue to seek estimates from three companies to help us decide the extent of renovations that are possible. Before construction can start, we’ll need to have the street widened. At a recent meeting, a city official measured, and clarified that the library building is far enough from the street that it won’t need to be moved.
“After the Anabaptist Centre is renovated, we’ll be able to live there without needing to pay rent, but the building may not be ready until the winter. Until then, we are grateful that the Yayoidai church is allowing us to live in their building, with a low rent.
“Recently, a group of us met to clean up some of the overgrown trees and bushes at the centre. Afterward, there were three truckloads of yard waste. The Centre Committee is considering having professional work done on the earthquake strengthening, but doing the other renovations with help from volunteers.
“We continue conversations and make decisions regarding future vision and renovations. Each week we visit a different one of the five TAFMC churches. I preach, and we often introduce new music. It was good to finally meet people from the Hitachi church in person last week. Up until then, we’d only been able to meet for online worship. It takes over three hours to get there by train and bus.
“Along with responsibilities in Tokyo, we continue to meet with the Mennonite Japanese Christian Fellowship in Surrey for online worship on Mondays at 7 a.m. There, I continue to preach once a month.
“I’ll be representing TAFMC at the Mennonite World Conference [event] in Indonesia. I hope to build connections, particularly with other representatives in Asia.”