Japan (MNN) — Meeting Chris Conti at Urbana 12 in St. Louis, Missouri, was a 'God-thing'.
Conti is an SIM missionary to Peru. Growing up in a non-Christian family, she felt that God set her apart and protected her throughout her life. In university, she grew and became a leader within InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She attended Urbana 1990 where she signed a commitment to pursue full-time missions. Twelve years later (after teaching high school in Indiana for ten), she joined SIM and went to Peru (2003).
Enter: Asian Access (A2). A sharp left turn, right?
Not really. Asian Access and SIM are partnering together to recruit and send missionaries to Japan to plant churches. Conti explains, "We're going to be their senders, and they're going to be the receivers on that end. So, we're going to help more on the training side and help them be more equipped to be missionaries, and they're going to take care of them once they get to Japan."
SIM assumes responsibility for recruiting missionaries, as well as the financial accounting and related human resources functions of missionary training and U.S.-based care. Asian Access retains responsibility for championing the overall vision in Japan, managing the strategy of missionary deployment through its vast network of Japanese churches, and caring for Japan-based missionary personnel.
At SIM's international conference, Conti met and got to know an Asian Access representative who was visiting to see what SIM was doing well. A friendship developed as both women talked about each organization's strengths toward a common goal. Conti says, "Our philosophy is ‘from anywhere to anywhere,' so currently I am the person in Peru who helps people go. So, if we have a candidate for Japan, we would go through Asian Access."
By leveraging the specialties of the two mission-sending agencies, they hope to maximize effectiveness toward the goal of planting 1,000 church congregations in Japan by 2020.
How do Peru and Japan fit together? Actually, it's not such a huge leap, notes Conti. "For Peru, specifically, it's very Asian. Our past presiden (two presidents ago) was half-Japanese (Alberto Fujimori)." Peru has the second-largest population of Japanese people in Latin America after Brazil, and the largest population of Chinese people in Latin America.
As for a timeline on seeing Peruvian missionaries in Japan, Conti reflects that it could happen in the next year or two. "I think there will be more people who will come through our training sessions, mix with SIM workers, and then go out to Japan. We hope that there'll be more missionaries in Japan because of it."
Taking a look at the larger scope, the partnership's innovation has not gone unnoticed in the missions' circles. Last September at the North American Mission Leaders Conference, SIM USA and Asian Access jointly received the eXcelerate Award for excellence and innovation in mission partnership.
Although the partnership is new, already SIM's first missionaries to serve in Japan are one the field: Robert and Roberta Adair. They're working with post-disaster relief post-disaster relief and development, working with young adults and responsibilities within Asian Access.
Please pray for all involved in helping this partnership take root, and give thanks to God for His guidance and blessing in the process. More specifically, says Conti, "Pray for wisdom and how to know what we don't know; how we can work well together, what are some policies and procedures that we haven't thought through that would make it easier."
Go to our Featured Links section for a closer look at what the partnership is doing in Japan.