Holland Road Baptist Church

John Somers-Harris

In 2015, Christians in Japan came together in large gatherings to pray, worship, and share the good news. In January, Bill Johnson from Bethel Church taught in Tokyo on the Kingdom of God, encouraging attendees to pray for each other to believe in God’s work of healing. In May, in the city of Kobe, 4,000 Christians from Japan, Korea, China, and other parts of East Asia saw pastors from those countries crying and hugging as they promised to walk in love with each other. One leading Japanese pastor shared that he had not modelled the Father to his children but had parented them in the way his unsaved father had parented him. His openness caused spontaneous reconciliation amongst many pastors, church members, and their families. Finally, Franklin Graham held a large Tokyo evangelistic rally at the end of November, which was a wonderful partnership between churches, their members and the rally staff. We were personally blessed as a neighbour attended with Rhonda.

2015 has been an important year for YWAM Tokyo, seeing the Lord gather 15 students, including 4 from Japan, and 10 staff for our first International DTS, (or IDTS), held bilingually in English and Japanese. Derick Domae and I co-lead the school which began at the end of September. We are coming to the end of the lecture phase and looking now to outreach to Thailand and the Philippines, beginning just before Christmas. I hope to spend a week’s pastoral visit with each of the three outreach teams beginning in early January.

One story illustrates the wonderful sense we have of the Lord’s guidance in the school. Some DTS students were wanting to be baptised and we made arrangements to have the baptism on a particular Thursday. That week’s lecture series required a schedule change, meaning the baptism would be on the Wednesday, which was Remembrance Day! I realised that we were remembering those who gave their lives as a sacrifice for our freedom, and that those being baptised were showing the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus Himself made for our freedom.

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John Somers-Harris

We’re so thankful for our partnership with Holland Road these last 30 years in Japan! Here is a little of what is happening with us recently.

As we write, Sarah Aiko is returning from her YWAM Introduction to Primary Health Care outreach in Zimbabwe and Rhonda is preparing to fly to England to attend her graduation. By the time you read this, they will have moved Sarah Aiko’s things from King’s Lodge to Brighton where she will begin her university preparatory studies this fall!
Mary will move to Brighton to join Sarah Aiko this summer! She is nanny to our elder son David and his wife Tamara’s daughters, aged 3 and 1; also running a weekly programme for them and a friend’s two preschool daughters. She loves working with preschool children!

This September David, Tamara , Hannah and Amy will welcome “number 3”! Before then they will have moved in March into their very own house in Machida, Tokyo which will be closer to David’s company after it moves in June. We, too, will be moving – in May! Our mutual landlord has asked us to move into the house where David and his family have lived so that they may develop the house where we have been living as a chemist attached to their clinic.

Our second son, Jonathan, and his wife Kelly continue to enjoy their church involvement in Vancouver. They are thankful to receive mentoring in leadership by their small group leaders and hope to begin a new small group for the church this coming year.

Bob and I met with the Missions Pastor from Tokyo Baptist Church and shared information on the maiden voyage of the M/V Pacific Hope. There are possibilities for the church to partner with outreaches in Vanuatu in the summer. It is exciting to be building partnerships with local churches and involving them in the medical ministry of the YWAM ships. Visit www.marinereach.com for more details.

International DTS:
We are excited to be planning a Japanese-English DTS to commence on the 22nd of this September. In addition to our core team of four, four more staff have joined us, and we are beginning to contact the list of speakers for the lecture phase. The web page will be updated soon, along with a brochure printed in Japanese, and then applications will begin. visit www.ywamtokyo.org for more details.

This last September I attended an important meeting called by YWAM international leadership to discuss some major changes to how YWAM operates. Our local YWAM area eldership sought to implement some of these through changing the format of our area staff meetings, and were happy that our first in January seemed to be successful!

At this time we are looking forward to our YWAM National Conference in March, where John Dawson of YWAM’s Global Leadership Forum will help us discover more of the implications of these changes.

Hokkaido is the island furthest north in Japan. Since 2006 we have been praying towards seeing YWAM work begin there. YWAM Tokyo DTS leaders Greg and Rachel have amazing testimonies as to how the Lord called them separately to Hokkaido before they met and married. Greg and I went to Hokkaido for the second time in early February, attending positive meetings with several Christian leaders there in order to explore these possibilities together.

I travelled up earlier than Greg to spend over a week with a young Japanese man whom I met at a friend’s church gathering in 2013. He was struggling with fear and depression but visited us last spring in Tokyo and was baptized at TBC. He did not do well on his return. The time I spent with him, though, was really encouraging as he was able to renew his church attendance there, begin treatment at a dentist, visit several doctors and also attend a local public gym’s training programme.

Our family has been blessed by the Christian Academy in Japan, which was established in 1950 for the education of missionary children. Rhonda has been able to teach there these last three years and also write curriculum according to the school’s curriculum writing method, teaching to secular standards using secular textbooks but through a Biblical perspective. It was an exciting challenge and good to have finished compiling and recording it.

Well, thank you for reading along! If you would like to keep up to date with our doings, please visit our family blog at www.somers-harris.com!

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John Somers-Harris

I am sure that most of you are aware by now that Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics. However, what you may not know is that interest has been increasing in “Sports Ministries” in Japan over the last few years. It is not always easy, though, for Japanese pastors to see how their churches can be involved in sports ministry. Last month, at a meeting of a growing network of Sports Ministries, I learned why there has not been a strong interest and resulting movement among the local churches. If someone suggested to a local pastor that the church needed a sports ministry, the Pastor’s first reaction would be,

“Sports?” The matches are always held on Sundays. Why would I need a sports ministry?”

This meeting was very encouraging, as it was hosted in a large Japanese church (Hongo Dai Church) and was attended by several Pastors from Kanto and one even from Osaka. Churches from this group are already targeting Brazil for the World Cup Soccer Games on now, and also an Expo Unity World cup being held in India in December. It was very encouraging to hear all that they were already doing and planning to do. It is my goal that I will have something valuable to share with this group from my trip to the UK to meet with the leader who organised the London Olympics for YWAM.

The meeting went over lunch and continued into the afternoon. There was a lot of interaction over the meal, as well as in the more formal times of sharing. In the dining room I was surprised to meet an old friend from TBC who is now on staff at Hongo Dai Church. I am looking forward to meeting him and others again at our next meeting after I return from Europe.

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John Somers-Harris

August was a month that marked a huge milestone in our family. Sarah officially left home to begin her post-DTS studies at The King’s Lodge in Nuneaton.


She will be studying the Bible for nine months on a SBS. We are officially empty nesters now. Knowing how hard this would be for us – me especially – our Heavenly Father arranged for us to home-stay Tomo, who hails from Shizuoka and is doing his first year of schooling at CAJ (Christian Academy in Japan). Tomo commutes every weekend but stays with us during the week.


Outside of regular YWAM meetings I also had eighteen one-on-one appointments throughout the month, several of which meant about an hour’s commute each way. This seems to be a growing part of my ministry, helping to build the next generation of mighty warriors in this nation.


September saw me travelling further, to Okinawa, the furthest southern part of Japan, and also to Hokkaido the furthest northern part.


In Okinawa I spent a lot of time building relationships, and was blessed to re-connect with Ryo, a young man whom I had baptised while he was living here in the Tokyo area. It was also the last week of the Okinawa DTS and I had a great time with the staff and students there. One of the students, Yoshiya, was kind enough to take me to the Onsen. I had never been to an Onsen in Okinawa before.

In central Hokkaido

Hokkaido was an awesome adventure with Greg Lilley. We went on a prayer journey, visiting the four cardinal points of the island and even included an unexpected trip to the centre of the island. For more details and lots of pictures please visit www.somers-harris.com. I would be super blessed and highly encouraged if you left a kind comment or two at the posts you visit.

Being in Hokkaido also gave me an opportunity to visit with Samuel Lee and his family. I have known Samuel since he was fourteen; we became instant friends and have prayed for and encouraged each other over the years.


Because of all the travelling I only had nine one on one meetings in September.  A big highlight for me after returning from Hokkaido was baptizing Elisha from the high school boy’s group that I work with at TBC (Tokyo Baptist Church).


During all this time Rhonda has faithfully been teaching at CAJ, putting in many late nights and early mornings to stay on top of the teaching and marking that this requires. She also fully supports and prays with the salt and light team at TBC as well as teaching in the 301 class which we both lead. Sometimes I do not know just how she does everything she does! This is however, her last year of teaching at CAJ so things will change for her and us when the school year ends.

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