Accordance Adventures in Japan
After visiting Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Seoul in our four-week "Accordance in Asia" Tour, Ryan Mudge and I headed to Japan. After one night in Narita, where the airport was located, we headed by train to the Japan Bible Seminary in Hamura, west of Tokyo. We arrived in time for the annual pastors conference which was being held at a Christian resort in Okutama-machi Nishitama-gun. This area is out in the countryside, and I have to admit that the region, which had mountains in every direction I looked, was just gorgeous. Certainly, it was the perfect location for a Christian retreat center.
Chapel at the retreat center in Okutama where we attended the Pastors Conference sponsored by Japan Bible Seminary. Note the misty mountains in the background.
Knowing that Japan is only 2% (some claim lower) Christian, I was surprised to find so many pastors at the conference as we arrived in the middle of a teaching session. Adapting to the culture, Ryan and I removed our shoes and put on slippers before entering the chapel or the guest housing.
Accordance Training session at the Pastors Conference in Okutama.
We stayed two days at the pastors conference and not only held Accordance demos for the entire group, but also met with Accordance users and prospective users individually. My main presentation at the pastors conference emphasized how to use Accordance for sermon preparation and as a ministry resource. I had already learned to talk slowly during presentations in the weeks leading up to our stay in Japan because most who understood English only did so as a second language. However, at all of our stops in Japan, I had to not only speak more slowly; I also had to remember to make my sentences short and pause to allow a translator to communicate to my audience in Japanese.
Holding an Accordance session with students at Japan Bible Seminary in Hamura.
Ryan and I also held a session specifically for students after we arrived back at the seminary, where we also stayed in guest housing. I found a guestbook in my room with signatures and notes of thanks going all the way back to the 1980s! I left my own name in the book as well and thanking the seminary for their hospitality.
Riding the train into Tokyo. Believe it or not, this was before it got crowded!
The next morning, we boarded the train again and headed into Tokyo City. We were right in the middle of rush hour and got to experience being packed into the train like sardines as so many people hurried to get to work. I marveled at how respectful and courteous people behaved on the train being confined so closely together with one another. Having ridden commuter trains and subways in large cities in the United States…well, let me just reiterate my amazement at the courtesy and restraint of Japanese commuters :-)
Presentation at Ochanomizu Christian Center in downtown Tokyo
We held an all-day Accordance seminar at the Ochanomizu Christian Center in downtown Tokyo for current and new Accordance users. Many pastors, students, professors and lay leaders attended the seminar and improved their knowledge and skill in using Accordance.
We had less time in Japan than in the other countries we visited and didn’t have a day set aside for sightseeing. Or, to be more accurate, I didn’t have a day set aside. Originally, our stay in Asia was supposed to end after our all-day seminar at the Ochanomizu Christian Center. However, we were invited to another seminar in Korea. I was not able to stay, but since we were already in that part of the world, and Ryan could stay, he saw me off to the airport but stayed behind for another two weeks. Hopefully, we can get Ryan to tell us a little bit about his solo adventures that occurred after I flew back to the United States.
To the right: the comforts of home away from home.
We had a wonderful time in Asia. Yes, there are linguistic differences as well as unfamiliar approaches to customs and food, but I was reminded that underneath these surface issues, we are all still human beings, made in God’s image. The circumstances may not always be the same, but at the core, people are people. We all experience hopes, ambitions, fear, joy, and sadness to varying degrees throughout our lives, regardless of differing causes or circumstances. And I observed a very real hunger to study, teach and preach the Bible in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Seoul, and Japan that served to renew my desire for the same.
I’m grateful for a tool as unique as Accordance Bible Software, and I feel extremely fortunate for having the opportunity to make this trip to another part of the world and to meet so many wonderful people. Truly, this was an unforgettable experience.