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Communicating a presence of radical love in Japan

Most students—whether Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu—come bearing the faith of their families only to discover the predominant secularism of many of their Japanese neighbors in a nation where less than two percent of the population are Christians. 

For United Methodist missionaries Jonathan and Satomi McCurley, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in such a diverse community is about communicating a presence of radical love.

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Mary Escobar with a young student writing on a chalkboard

Sharing the Good News in a predominantly secular nation

On any given day at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in northern Japan, one student might butcher a chicken for lunch while another steadfastly avoids meat in keeping with his or her religious beliefs. 

As a member of the Muffumbiraa tribe, originally from the Congo, Richard is no stranger to the trauma of displacement. A recent ARI graduate, he is now serving forcibly displaced people at the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Uganda, helping them feed their families and establish livelihoods by sustainably farming small plots of land. “At ARI, I learned to love, speak in front of others, and interact with people from different countries,” he says. “I learned I can trust God in any situation.”

Infographic highlighting the number of rural leaders trained. Text reads: Since its founding in 1973, ARI has trained more than 1,000 rural leaders from Asia, Africa and the Pacific for lives of service to grassroots communities, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, responsible ecological practices and community development.
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Photo of Global Ministries missionary Satomi McCurley plants rice with ARI student Aminata from Sierra Leone, and a group photo at a park.
ARI students visit a Japanese strawberry farm.

Transformed by Radical Love

Born and raised in Ibaraki, Japan, Miki served as a volunteer at ARI and began attending church and Bible study. Gradually, she warmed to the message of the Gospel and developed an interest in international service. In 2023, Miki dedicated her life to Christ. With a university degree in biological resources science, she is now serving in East Africa for two years with Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers.


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Empower Global Ministries missionaries like the McCurleys

Born and raised in Okinawa, Satomi serves as the church and community ministries coordinator for Asian Rural Institute (ARI) while also supporting children and foster parents in the local area. As youth chaplain for the Tochigi District of the United Church of Christ in Japan, Jonathan works as a chaplain with ARI and local churches, including leading Bible studies and a Gospel choir and serving as the associate pastor for the local Nasushiobara Church. 

Share the radical love of Jesus Christ with individuals, families and communities around the world.

Global Ministries missionaries Jonathan and Satomi McCurley enjoy a visit to Cambodia with their daughter Yuka.