Vision Camp

The Jesus‘ Call church starts its year with a Vision camp every year. For this camp, all the harvesters from the three churches meet at one of the three locations. This year, we all met here in Tokyo. The official starting date was Monday, January the 1st, but the first harvesters from Fukuoka already arrived on Saturday, the 30th. Together, we went to the outreach in Shimokitazawa, and after, we split into smaller groups and ate dinner together.

We went to church as usual on Sunday and spent the Morning and Lunch together. In the afternoon, the members from Miyazaki started to arrive, and we had our afternoon service. We spent our time together, talked a lot and ate some snacks. Since it was New Year’s Eve, all the core members stayed to eat dinner together, and then we held a Thanksgiving meeting. We sat in a big circle, and everyone shared things they have been thankful for in the past year, things that have especially blessed them, and things they struggled with. Hearing what everyone has experienced and witnessing these heartfelt testimonies was very interesting. When we finished sharing, it was almost midnight, so we prayed a blessing for the year 2024 before we all wished each other a happy and blessed new year. We soon went home because we had big plans on Monday, and some of the members also had to catch the last trains. (This surprised me because I thought New Year’s trains would go all night long, or at least longer than usual. There were also no fireworks, which I thought was a bit sad, but at least it was quiet when we finally went to sleep.)

We returned to church after our morning prayer on Monday, and the Vision camp finally started. In the beginning, Christian and Naomi revealed this year’s Bible verse for the church. In my Church in Switzerland, we usually draw a Bible verse simultaneously as all the members draw their own Bible verse. But here, Christian and Naomi pray over the new Bible verse beforehand; they pick one, write it down on a big poster and turn it into the year’s motto.

This year’s Bible verse for Jesus‘ Call is: „Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.“ -Isaiah 54:2

Then Christian and Naomi started to share this year’s Vision for Jesus‘ Call, the goals for the three Churches, but also for the members as individuals. They used Isaiah 54:2 to share their vision, expand the church, grow stronger, enlarge their surroundings, and bless the people around them. After an intense morning, we ate lunch together, and then it was time for us members to draw our own Bible verses. We then sat in a big circle, and everyone shared their Bible verse and their goal or vision for 2024.

During this sharing time, a new guest arrived. Ann had just arrived from Switzerland and was picked up by Anna while we were still teaching in the morning. Thus, they also got to pick their Bible verse and share what they received. In the afternoon, we played games, enjoyed the community, and ate snacks.

We then got some time off to return home if we wanted to eat dinner, take a quick nap, or do whatever we needed. During this break, we received a message that some of the core members should be sharing a 5-minute input about an assigned topic during the vision camp, so we immediately started preparing before we returned to church for the evening teaching. This evening’s teaching continued the morning sermon about the vision and our call.

Christian and Naomi first talked about what a vision is and why we should have one. They then reminded everyone of Jesus‘ Call vision and calling, which everyone already knew by heart. Still, it is, of course, always a good reminder. Then Christian started to talk about the 3 Goals all church members should try to do this year, but he could only share the first point before we finished for the day.

The next day was special. We all fasted together and prayed for a blessed year in 2024. This is a tradition Christian and Naomi had started many years ago. In Jesus‘ Call, they often do a chain fasting before a big event, praying for God’s blessing in these happenings, and every new year, they fast all together for the coming year. Christian continued preaching about the three goals we members should attempt this year. The first goal was to read the Bible daily and, through that, to read through the entire Bible in a year. For this, they have created a Bible reading plan, which they share with the members yearly. The second goal is to pray daily for an hour. It doesn’t have to be an hour in one go but can also be picked apart into four sessions of 15 minutes or however it works best for every individual. The final goal is to strengthen the church. Strengthen the church simply through attendance, helping in ministries, helping with cooking, worship, events, etc. Strengthen the church by supporting and encouraging the leaders, other church members, etc. We played some more games in the evening, and some first members shared their input. Then Naomi did a quick Q&A session where we could ask things about what we had just heard or other questions we had meant to ask.

We all went to church on Wednesday morning and broke our fast together before Christian finished his message. Then, the event everyone has been looking for the most finally came. We went to a riverside where we could make a fire, and we had a grill party. One of the members had bought a 5kg piece of beef, and numerous snacks and drinks were available to fill us up. Ann and I decided that an open fire was only complete with chocolate bananas, so we headed out to get some bananas. We didn’t need to buy chocolate, as Ann had brought a lot from Switzerland. The food was delicious, and fellowship with all the members was a huge blessing. After spending the entire afternoon next to the grill, we all returned (by train) smelling like we had been roasted.

We went directly back to church for the Wednesday Power night, where Christians talked about walking with God. Then we headed back to get a much-needed shower finally. The Vision camp was officially over.

However, almost all of the Miyazaki and Fukuoka members stayed for a couple of days longer, and some of us still needed to share their input, so they asked us to come again on Thursday morning. My language school had already started again, but luckily, my Thursday class only started in the afternoon so that I could join them. We started with an intense prayer time, and then the final members shared their inputs. My assigned topic was „loyalty“. Afterwards, we again split into smaller groups and went to eat lunch together. We finished at a perfect time to enjoy lunch with the church members before I went to school.

This vision camp was an intense time full of blessings and joy.