Though the population of Japanese Christians in Malaysia may be small, an intimate church located in the heart of Mont Kiara has been doing its part in building the Body of Christ locally. Under the pastoral care of Pr Mayumi Yamazaki, the church has dedicated services in Japanese and English as well as biweekly Bible study and prayer meetings. JCM has even set up a community learning center providing language classes in Japanese, English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Chinese.
Gifted in music, Pr Mayumi also heads the Hallelujah Choir and the learning center also provides music lessons in piano, flute, drum, vocal training and music composition. The Christmas celebration at the church was a classy one, multi-faceted in its own right but marked with extraordinary musical performances.
The Christmas Concert Programme was divided into two sessions, contemporary and classical. After the opening prayer by Pr Jonathan Quigley, the concert started with a rousing Christmas worship session by the JCM worship team. This was followed by solo piano performances of Schumann’s ‘Soldier’s March’ and Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’ which were respectively delivered capably by the young Momo and Ayaka.
The first session was highlighted by the KBC Yay Choir Group with a contemporary-styled performance of such choir songs as the Swahili ‘Kuna Karamu’, a celebration of the beauty of life. Other songs performed were Twila Paris’ ‘We Will Glorify’and the Japanese ‘If You Believe, There Will Be Miracle’ delivered in its native language. The KBC Yay group did not just deliver a choir performance but also a banner dance accompanied by a Jewish Chinese Christian song.
Br Bill Yate shared a testimony of how he found Christ amidst a challenging household environment in London, and how God has sustained him in his journey through life. He shared that the decision to come to Christ was the most important decision he has made in his life, and that Christ has helped to change him. Christ did not make him perfect but he was different. The first thing that Christ dealt with was his temper. Br Bill used to get involved in fights and get angry easily but Christ gave him peace inside. Christ also helped to heal the hurts and insecurity that he had accumulated while growing up. Later, other members of his family also came to Christ. Today Br Bill has been walking with Christ as his friend and security, and He has given Br Bill a purpose in life for 67 years.
The first session came to a close with a soulful solo of ‘Jesus at the Centre of It All’ by sis Agnes Lee, before the second session commenced via the Japanese song of thankfulness for God’s faithfulness, ‘Arigato,’ by JCM’s Hallelujah Choir.
The Hallelujah Choir was one of the highlights of the second session which had a more sophisticated classical character to it. The Hallelujah Choir performed a full-length rendition – including a comprehensive range of voice ranging from soprano to tenor – of Lee Dengler’s ‘Christmas Sanctus’ as well as the traditional Christmas carols ‘Carol of the Bells’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy’, before ending on a climax with a Christmas Carol medley and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
Thereafter, a rare opportunity was given through the performance of the Passacaglia by Halvorsen on violin and cello, performed skilfully respectively by Ms Mai Udagawa and Ms Aoi Udagawa. The first movement of the difficult Cello Concerto in B minor (op 104) by Antonin Dvorak followed next with Ms Aoi Udagawa on the cello, attended with a virtuoso piano accompaniment by Mr Kenneth Teh. This particular cello concerto by Dvorak is regarded by many as one of the finest of all cello concertos, and requires great skill to perform, especially during the coda where the cello plays three whole octaves and many double stops.
Madam Tomoko One and her team has been a regular fixture in many JCM concert events, and this time the hula dance group was larger, encompassing a wider age range among the performers and a wider variety of song genres. As always, the Christmas concert ended with a powerful moment of solidarity and oneness in Christ’s family through the closing candle service and the singing of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ to the tune of the traditional anthem ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
In her greeting message, Pr Mayumi shared about the significance of Christmas. Christmas is a time where we remember one of the most remarkable events in history. It was the time when a Being of such infinite power and majesty, without limitations, had the grace and mercy on a lost people to come in the form of such a finite being as us, and furthermore to minister healing and restoration on Earth, and most importantly, to provide the infinite gift of eternal life unto us. No other faith has claimed this nor can they claim this.
Pr Mayumi expressed that God did this out of His great love and compassion for humanity and He has only one commandment for us to follow. Looking at the laws of Japan, she shared that she found that there were 2000 laws in that nation. God’s only commandment to us is that we obey Him, and that this commandment of God is to shield us. The greatest way we can express our obedience to God is in loving Him and in loving others.
Christmas is a time of celebration through the joy of music, which is like the song of the soul, but it is also a time where we remember what God has done for us and of His great love and of the unity in the Body of Christ.
NOTE: JCM Agape is located at the 16th Floor of Menara 1 Mont Kiara. They have a weekly Sunday service in both Japanese (2-3pm) and International Sunday service in English (3.15-4.30pm). A sunday school runs concurrently with the Japanese service, and there is a weekly Wednesday choir practice for JCM’s well-known Hallelujah Choir.
The JCM Agape Network learning Center (JANLC) is a community learning center, where quality learning is provided in a loving atmosphere where children and adults can grow and learn together. Currently, the JANLC provides classes in language (Japanese, English, Bahasa Malaysia, and Chinese) as well as in music (Piano, Flute, Drum, Vocal Training, Music Composition).
To find out more about JCM Agape network both as a church and learning center, you may visit their website at http://www.jcmagapenetwork.com/ or their Facebook page at /JCM-Agape-Japanese-Church-in-Malaysia-173304479359939 All pictures kindly provided by the church.
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