Students from Japan to Learn English also Shown Love of Jesus

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Global Strategy

By Kim Ousley

Bernie Barton, longtime missionary for Global Strategy and board chair of the Tamagawa Seigakuin Girls’ School in Tokyo, Japan, is in the United States this summer on home assignment with his wife Akiko to visit supporting churches and share what God is doing in the work of the church in Japan. They’re also eager to share what has been happening in the lives of the students served at the all-girls school.

Recently, there were forty Tama Sei students on the Anderson University campus for two weeks of immersion in American culture to help them learn the English language in real-time situations. “These girls are sophomores and juniors in high school who are coming over for a two-week English seminar,” said Barton. “It is our desire that these students will have a variety of experiences that will help shape their lives both academically and spiritually.”

Barton shared that most of the parents who send their daughters to the school have not had any exposure to the Christian faith. Only about 1 percent of the country of Japan claim to be Christian. Given this statistic, the witness is both fascinating and potent. For those interested in learning more about the school and its mission, Barton recommends a video, produced by Anderson University’s Covenant Productions, titled “For the Sake of the Vision.” Watch the video on YouTube.

Bernie Barton notes that about “90 percent of the girls have never been to church.” As part of the school’s curriculum, junior high students are required to attend church on Sundays. The senior high students write a monthly report in their Bible classes of a church service they have attended. A chapel service is held every morning for both the junior and senior high before classes start and there is a Bible class in every grade.

Gathered for chapel during their stay in Anderson.

Immersive Learning

Cheryl Shank, director of the stateside portion of the Tama Sei English Program, was approached in January to take charge of setting everything up for the girls to come this summer. Anderson University was the perfect place. Shank said, “I immediately began planning and had an itinerary together within a week.”

Not only did they take daily English classes, but they also visited many different places representing other cultures in the area. Landmarks, such as Kings Island in Ohio and the Ark Adventure in Kentucky, were also included. But the biggest assignment for the second week was to visit The Christian Center in Anderson, Indiana, which houses, and ministers to, homeless men. Shank set up a “scavenger hunt” to offer the girls a glimpse of what it is like to be homeless—and where in town they might find help and hope.

In Japan, it is normal to not see the homeless population, as if they are hidden from society. Shawn Harris, present director of the Christian Center, shared his story of homelessness in the past and how he would look for food in the dumpsters of restaurants. Other educators stepped up as teachers of the English classes to help in the immersive learning; among them were Trish Jauntilo, Janet Brewer, Alexandra Zard, Kalyn Dilts, Michelle Laurine. Teachers from the school in Japan who chaperoned the group were Global Strategy missionary Mike Wagner, Andrew Rails, Ms. Yoko Kanai, and Ms. Kuniyo Tsuchiya. “I really want to mention Mindy Grubbs and thank her tremendously for her work in finding the homes for the girls to stay in and setting up the classes,” Shank added. “She’s been a huge assistance to me.”

Global Implications

Like so many women around the world, these girls have the potential to play a vital role in the work of the church. Barton is very enthusiastic about women in leadership in the Church of God in Japan. “Women are positively impacting the ministry in the Japanese church,” he said. “Approximately one-third of our ordained minsters are women now. They have brought the church stability, vision, and faith.”

This summer Bernie Barton also attended the Church of God Convention in Tampa, Florida. After the Convention, he also participated in the international forum in which the Global Church of God Alliance was initiated. The Global Church of God Alliance is formed of Church of God leaders from around the world and will serve to enhance communication and cooperation in the worldwide ministry of the Church of God. “This is a timely and significant step in the international work of the Church of God,” Barton said. “It provides a forum to help us work as a team, sharing vision, wisdom, and strength to make Jesus the subject in all our efforts as his church united.”

Learn more about missionary Bernie Barton, the Tamagawa Seigakuin School, and the broader work of the Church of God around the world, at

Feature (top) photo: The girls from Japan completing service project tasks for the Christian Center in Anderson, Indiana. Photo by Caleb Amick used by permission, courtesy The Herald Bulletin. Read Caleb’s article about the visit here.

Start typing and press Enter to search