Japan is quite often referred to as a “hard ground” among Christian mission organizations and churches. Yet out of this “hard ground” God birthed a group of Christian Zionists who started praying for the restoration of Israel in 1930.
This group was called Seisho Kenkyu Kai (The Bible Study Fellowship). Since the mid-1990s they invited Messianic teachers from Israel to teach in Japan. In 2009 with the encouragement of these Messianic leaders, they organized a conference – Asia Messianic Forum (AMF) – and invited other Asian nations to participate. The first conference that year was attended by Korea, Thailand and Singapore.
The aim of this conference was to bring together Christians who have the understanding for God’s heart for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people for a time of mutual encouragement. This is done by sharing what is happening in their nations with regards to Israel and Jewish salvation, as well as to receive teaching from Messianic Jewish leaders.
Since 2009 Asia Messianic Forum has been hosted by other Asian nations: Korea in 2011, Singapore in 2013, Philippines in 2015, Taiwan in 2017 and Thailand in 2019. The 2021 conference was planned to be held in Goa, India. This state is a key place for Jewish people. In pre-Covid days around 50,000 young Israelis would go there after their military service for R&R. WOW (Watchman on the Walls) of Jerusalem, the organizers of this years conference, has already established a café in Goa to serve as an outreach center to introduce these young men and women to their Jewish Messiah.
When the pandemic began last year, the AMF leaders had to think if we could hold the conference or not. And if so how we were going to do it. At the beginning of this year the organizers decided that we should do a virtual conference using Zoom and YouTube live platforms. We agreed to this, yet at the back of our minds, we wondered if it would work as there were many technical obstacles to overcome such as translating in so many languages. Over the months the technical teams from India, Japan and some other nations worked on it together and by God’s grace found solutions.
The conference was held between August 30 and September 2 this year over four evenings. The three-hour evening sessions were anchored by Messianic leaders in the Land: Peter Tsukahira from Kehilat HaCarmel, Joseph Shulam from Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry and Michael Zinn from Chosen People Ministry. They brought timely and challenging messages that encouraged us believers in the nations to continue to press on in sharing God’s heart for Israel in the nations.
While we were a little apprehensive at first if this new format would work, God really took us by surprise. The largest attendance we’ve had in the past was just under 1,000. This year, we had between 500-600 participants on the Zoom platform and thousands joining on other platforms. Officially, we counted 23 nations that joined, and people from 24 of the 28 states in India joining as well. We even heard that in some “closed” countries, there were about 100 viewers using one computer. So there is no way to know the actual number of people who joined the conference.
What we initially thought would be a bad situation actually turned out to be very good. Just as Joseph had said in ancient times: what the enemy planned for evil, God turned it for good. Because of this we know that the AMF is something that God desires to see continue and we are encouraged to persevere until Yeshua returns.
As yet we do not know what the future holds, but we are still hoping to hold a physical conference in Goa next year, God willing. We shall have to wait and see. It is in his hands.