Alumnus Tak: Light & Hope Amidst Disaster

Below is the current newsletter from EAST alumnus Tak Funatogawa who has been serving in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, for the past decade. Read about how God’s light and hope still shine in Japan amidst all the recent challenges – do keep him, his family, and ministry in your prayers.

Dear family and friends,

Blessed Lunar New Year to all our friends celebrating the Chinese New Year! Furthermore, Blessed New Year to all our other friends too. We are always grateful and appreciate deeply your continued support and prayers for us.

“Magnitude 7.5 struck the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan causing a Tsunami 6.58m high along the Sea of Japan coast.”

“A runway collision occurred at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.”

What a way to begin the year of 2024! It was heart-devastating to watch the news and hear reports coming in as memories of the 2011 Tsunami Earthquake went quickly through our minds. We are grateful for those who wrote in or texted us asking whether we were affected, but by the grace of God we along with our family were all okay. However, we do know close people to us that have relatives there that were affected especially by the earthquake. The relief work has just started and we as a church are raising support to send to the relief teams that will be going in to deliver necessary daily supplies. Unfortunately, due to distance and mobilization, we will not be going in to help in-person yet, but if the Lord does seek us to go and open necessary doors then we will go to do whatever we can. Please do continue to pray for the lives of the people that were affected and that through the relief work that the love of Christ and the gospel will be shared that people will see the TRUE LIGHT and HOPE in such devastating moments.

As we reflect on what occurred in the beginning of this new year it was reminder once again to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Furthermore, as Tak was seeking the Lord as to which Book of the Bible to preach from in the new church fiscal-year that will begin from April, he was convicted to preach from “Revelations”. Please do pray for the Holy Spirit to lead him as he begins his studies to prepare for his weekly sermons.

Though the year of 2024 started in a heart-breaking situation, we were so blessed to have ended the year of 2023 with great delight and praises as we witnessed and saw the Lord’s faithfulness upon His church and upon His people as we celebrated the baptism of three new members. In a nation where the average baptism rate is 0.7% annually. It is always a great delight and joy to witness new members being added into His Kingdom. Please do continue to pray along with us that in this new year of 2024, we will continue to see the Lord’s hand and faithfulness upon His church, and we will be able to witness more people coming to know the Lord and being baptized into His family and into His Kingdom.

Looking ahead as we begin the journey of the year 2024, both our hearts are filled with excitement and great joy. As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, Minami church will be celebrating her 50th Anniversary in July. Indeed, it is only by the grace of God that we have come this far, and we continue to trust and seek the Lord for His continued blessings as we continue to abide in Him and in His Work to direct His church according to His will for the next 50 years! As part of our celebration for our 50th Anniversary, we are praying of commissioning our first “homeland missionaries” to lead the first BAM (Business as Missions) Project of the “Shalom Share House”. This BAM is led by Masato and Anri, who both Tak and Su have been mentoring and discipling this many years since being installed into the church. Furthermore, as we celebrate the Year of Jubilee for His church, Tak will be entering into his 10th year as the Senior Pastor of Minami church. Please do pray for Tak as he seeks the Lord for His direction for the next phase of his pastoral ministry.

Our hearts are also filled with excitement and joy as Tak’s younger sister, who lives in California, U.S. will be getting married in August. Therefore, we are praying and seeking the Lord that the whole family will be able to fly over to attend the wedding for the very first time. Please do pray that first we will all be in healthy condition as currently, Su is struggling with a backache and is “Meniere’s” and Tak is struggling with cervical spondylosis and is undergoing medical treatment too. By God’s grace, Seira is doing well but continues to go for regular check up for the thyroid level and continues to receive necessary speech therapy, physical therapy, and operational therapy to help in her growth level. Though Seira is currently 5 years old, her intellect is the same of a 1 or 2 year old. Even though there are moments of challenges and difficulties, she continues to be the little bright shining star that brings so much joy and laughter to the family. Please also pray that all the needs will be met as due to high rising cost the airfare prices have gone up dramatically and it will cost us “1M Yen” for the whole family to fly over. But please also pray that Seira will be able to fly as the trip will be her first overseas trip and it will be long flight and we are yet to experience how she will react.

As for the UL316 ministry (unconditional love 316), the Lord continues to bless and use the ministry to be the “salt and light” to bring the unconditional love of Christ to families that have given birth to babies with Down Syndrome in a nation where children with special needs is yet to be widely received. We have received letters from families who received these baskets to share how they were “saved” out of their despair and have gained “hope” after receiving the baskets. Our prayer is that the seeds of the love of Christ that has been sown through the baskets will one day bear fruit and the families that have received the basket will find the “true salvation” and “true hope” in our Lord Jesus Christ. Please also pray that more volunteers will be added to the team as the requests for the baskets continues to come in without ceasing.

We are always humbled and appreciate from deep down our hearts all your prayers and support for us. If it weren’t for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom family and friends journeying along with us in this faith journey, what we do on the mission field here in Sapporo will not be possible. We persevere on the field and continue to fight the spiritual battle here in Japan because we know we have a Savior that loves us unconditionally and because we know we have prayer warriors like yourselves praying and interceding for us while we serve Him for His glory.

Please do let us know how we too can be a small blessing to you by sharing any prayer requests that you may have. Furthermore, if you have an opportunity to come to Sapporo, please do come by because we will love to meet you in person too.

May our Lord continue to bless you all and we look forward to updating you again in our next newsletter of the exciting things the Lord is doing here in Sapporo and in our family too.


Tak (42), Su (41) , Seira (5)

If you would like to contribute to Tak’s ministry or upcoming family financial needs, please email us at: and we would provide you with the necessary details.

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