Mark is a Filipino-American who grew up in Manila and Tokyo. Graduating from Stanford and Westminster Seminary California, he hopes to be an ordained PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) pastor working in Japan. Megumi is a Japanese Christian who grew up.. 

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Current Ministry

Where are you currently serving?

 

Between June 2017 and the August 2019, I (Mark) will be serving at Oyumino Christ Church. Oyumino Christ Church is part of the Presbyterian Church of Japan and is the largest PCJ church in the denomination (about 250 worshippers). It is a church with five congregations and I am primarily serving at Oyumino Chapel. During this time, I will be engaged in the following ministries:

 

  • Local Pastoral Ministry - Preaching, evangelism, teaching, counseling, shepherding, discipling in Japanese

  • Children and Family Ministry - Began a family-driven Children's Sunday School ministry based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Began Nursery/Discipleship ministry for ages 2-6, started quarterly Kids Outreach events

  • Administrative and Planning Ministry - Led a Mid-Long Term Planning committee to design Oyumino's 3, 5,10, 20 year plan; Revamped Oyumino's website

  • Presbytery Level Ministry - Began and led a quarterly gathering of potential teaching and ruling elders in Higashi-Kanto to encourage them, train them in theology, to connect them to other experienced pastors and elders

  • National Level Ministry - Participated in the planning of Young Adult Conferences and the formation of key strategic partnership with a US seminary to help the PCJ train their next generation of pastors.

The Bocanegra family will be returning to the US to reconnect with supporters and fundraise for their next ministry.

Why do you hope to do church planting in Kaihin Makuhari Grace Church (KMGC)?

After our term with Oyumino Christ Church, we hope to partner with KMGC to start their second worship site at Kaihin Makuhari. Among the many cities and neighborhoods in Japan, we decided to plant with KMGC for the following three reasons.

  • Prime Location for a Church Plant: Among the four prefectures in Greater Tokyo, Chiba Prefecture has the lowest church density of about 19,000 people per church. Furthermore, the small residential area of Kaihin Makuhari will grow to about 35,000 people with a high concentration of young families--but with only one church serving this neighborhood.

  • Ideal Partner for Church Planting: The church plant will be the daughter church of Kaihin Makuhari Megumi Church (KMGC). KMGC was planted in Kaihin Makuhari 18 years ago and is one of the rare cases of a Japanese church plant that particularized, became financially independent within 10 years, and wants to plant a new church. The 80 year old senior pastor has been in the ministry for the past 50 years and planted three church plants. The session is also made up of two other battle-hardened elders and an experienced missionary. This session and thriving church plant are the ideal senpai (meaning roughly "someone older than you who you respect" i.e. mentor) and "mother church" to our church planting endeavor.

  • Strategic Hub for a Three-Pronged Ministry: Because of the location, the proximity, the existing ministry, and the potential of new developments, the Makuhari Team can involved in three strategic ministries. First, the Bay Town Ministry will be working with the existing church, KMGC, to continue to reach out to the 25,000 people in Bay Town. Second, the Bay Park Ministry hopes to plant KMGC's bilingual worship site in Makuhari Bay Park, the future home of 10,000 people living in six high-rise apartments. We hope to use an active kids program and an English program for college students and professionals to attract young families into the new church plant. Third, the Young Adult Ministry hopes to do outreach to the nearby Kansai University of International Studies and  Makuhari Sogou High School. 

See Here for the Full Proposal: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YmePiFyNy26RoqkJLH4YPPO91G01cQHb

What is your ministry philosophy?

Our vision and philosophy of ministry revolves around wanting to recover, focus, and deepen the principles of ministry gleaned from the Apostles and the Reformation.

  • First, I believe that a recovery and elevation of the Reformation Solas is necessary. The guilt-ridden and legalistic Japanese culture has infiltrated the Church and has plagued the Japanese leaders--just like the American church. The joys of salvation by grace alone, Christ alone, faith alone needs to be recovered. The Japanese church--like the American church--needs clear Christ-centered preaching: to show the depth of sin, to illustrate the majesty and freedom of God’s grace, and to overflow in gratuitous obedience is the necessary first step. Specifically, I believe a new appreciation for the Westminster Standards needs to be developed on a theological and practical level in the church.

  • Second, I believe in the Simplicity of Christian missions. I believe the call as missionaries is to make disciples by 1) baptizing them and 2) teaching them all that Christ taught us. Paul tells Timothy and Titus to do frontier missions in a simple way: church planting by selecting elders, calling the elders to teach them sound doctrine and train the saints in holy living; then, let the holy lives of the saints attract non-Christians (Titus 2 in particular). Furthermore, 1 Peter 2-3 is also the same principle. Effective evangelism cannot happen with these previous steps. Too often, the Church has tried to “microwave” the process with other additions. However, we have seen two things happen: 1) it eventually dilutes or distracts from the heart of Christian missions and 2) the Church balloons with little to no mature disciples. I want to be laser-focused and specialize in one thing, and one thing only—the making of disciples. 

  • Third, I believe that a refocusing and deepening of Shepherding is needed in churches. Often, Japanese Christians are riddled with guilt, weak in holiness, wounded by trials—meaning that much spiritual care is needed. The recovery of elders who take the task of 1 Peter 5 and Ezekiel 34 seriously is needed. This is not only for internal care, but for outreach as well; spiritual care is needed for the congregation to be the light of the world. Shepherding or discipleship is tedious, time-consuming, tiring, non-glamorous work; however, I believe that in order to establish sustainable, long-lasting, mature fruit, there must be a commitment to patience, care, and diligence to the ordinary work of discipleship.

  • Fourth, I believe the above three principles converge into one principle: each Christian effort should always have Sustainability in mind. Too often, Japanese national partners have complained that missionaries do “firework ministries”—flashy in the beginning, but eventually fade out. In an expensive and difficult mission field (it is said that it costs about 2.7 million dollars per baptism), I believe that each ministry or action needs to be made carefully, intentionally, strategically so that valuable resources, personnel, and energy will be produce future and long-lasting fruit. Japan is a spiritual desert—every drop of spiritual water must be used with the hope of producing more.