Blessed Place to Be
I had my share of worries about keeping my Christian faith in Japan, where the 2008 statistics show a measly 3% who believe in God. But there’s a lot of hope in that, especially because Japan is one of the few developed countries whose faith is on the upward trend!
I’ve been lucky to have a Christian friend from Osaka who introduced me to Osaka International Church (OIC), and it’s located about 45 minutes away from Osaka Gakuin Daigaku (OGU). As the name “international” suggests, the church primarily operates in English, and most of the people there know both English and Japanese. OIC does not have a specific denomination, but it is Christian.
The first couple times I went were for the Sunday services, which is English only. What struck me the most was that OIC is possibly the only church in Osaka that has an English only service because that’s what the members from OIC want. Their reasoning, as I’m told by the Pastor, is that having a bilingual service changes the entire atmosphere of the church.
Being that almost EVERYONE there can speak English, it’s tempting to speak English at OIC. But it’s also one of the best places to practice Japanese because bilingual people do have an easier time understanding Japanese spoken by native English speakers. I highly encourage those who go to OIC, as I have, to ask others to speak only Japanese to you, and to test out your Japanese at church as well!
I believe the church was founded in 1974, more than 35 years ago, by an American couple who still frequents the church. OIC now has about two hundred members coming on any given Sunday, which is huge for a Japanese church, and membership has been increasing!
For all first comers of OIC, you will be given a small gift package including an information card and a small booklet that is essentially the Book of Luke.
I enjoyed the Communion Sunday a lot because my home church at Atlanta has a communion Sunday only about once every year from what I remember. It was definitely a powerful experience for me.
Saturday Alpha Small Group:
On Saturday, there is a separate Alpha Small Group for those who are newer to the Bible, and it’s composed of worship, watching Nicky Gumbel’s Alpha Course videos, discussions, and then fellowship time afterwards. I’ve met some of the friendliest people during the Alpha Small Groups, and the more casual atmosphere compared to Sundays definitely helps for bonding.
After the Alpha Small Group is the Saturday Service, which is both smaller and bilingual. There are also other events at OIC that changes throughout the calendar year, such as the Wednesday Bible study on the book of Exodus and Friday Bible study on the book of John.
Religious life in Japan is by no means limited to OIC. There is a much closer international church in 吹田(Suita), not to mention the countless other Japanese churches. Google maps is your friend in finding the right church for you.