Methodist MIssionaries Together!

This past week we had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a Regional Methodist Missionary Meeting held in Hiroshima, Japan.  Missionaires from East Asia and the Pacific, their familes and Staff from the US all gathered for about 5 days.  We shared stories, worshiped and prayed with one another, and sought to better understand how we can bring the gospel to the world and what it is our tradition has to offer.  Dr David Pascua from the Philippines helped us to see that our focus as Methodists should be on helping both the individual and society become more and more like God.  The Kingdom of God should break into our hearts and that can help us to seek the society around us looking like God’s Kingdom.

It was a blessing and an encouragement at the same time to share and listen to those serving around this area of the world.  As we returned back to ARI, we were energized to continue our work and to help our community members and our community itself become more and more like the one God calls us to be.   Won’t you join us in this work?

Discussing about ministry, missions and what God is doing in Asia and the Pacific!  Thank you Dr Kemper for the photo!

Discussing about ministry, missions and what God is doing in Asia and the Pacific! Thank you Dr Kemper for the photo!

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So we know you want to see and not just read!  Find photos of the past month below….  Wow, Spring is here and Summer is just on the horizon!!!!

The class of 2015 with guest speakers, the Takami's and our new director, Ms. Tomoko Arakawa.

The class of 2015 with guest speakers, the Takami’s and our new director, Ms. Tomoko Arakawa.

Getting to know all about you!  This pink ball opens the door to the 2015 community, keep your eyes on the ball!

Getting to know all about you! This pink ball opens the door to the 2015 community, keep your eyes on the ball!

there.  Waiting for the sheet to drop and for the fun to start!

there. Waiting for the sheet to drop and for the fun to start!

As the sheet drops you met say the other persons name first.  If you lose you join the winners side!  Ganbatte!!!!

As the sheet drops you met say the other persons name first. If you lose you join the winners side! Ganbatte!!!!

The 2015 ARI Community has finally arrived!  After we finished our first day of ice breakers and community building we had this photo.

The 2015 ARI Community has finally arrived! After we finished our first day of ice breakers and community building we had this photo.

In Japan a famous past time.  Eating, sharing and enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms!

In Japan a famous past time. Eating, sharing and enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms!

Fetzer Study Presentation at Sophia University in Tokyo.  After 2 years the results of this study on ARI and her impact on rural communities in Asia and Africa were presented.  Many thanks to all who came out to support, ask questions and learn.

Fetzer Study Presentation at Sophia University in Tokyo. After 2 years the results of this study on ARI and her impact on rural communities in Asia and Africa were presented. Many thanks to all who came out to support, ask questions and learn.

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That’s not Yahoo, but Yaho! It’s kind of like sayin Hey there! or What’s up? In Japanese. It’s a little old, retro, 70’s lingo but it is understood!

It feels like it has been a long time since an update was last given and we are sorry for the long interlude. The winter has come to an end, although not without a fight. It is just this past week that we finally had nights where the temperature continued above freezing. We are thankful and excited! As we have said before, being from a warm climate means that you come alive along with the flowers and trees when spring finally comes. Growing up, neither one of us association spring with flowers so much, we didn’t notice all the life because it never really died in the winter. But once you live in a place where snow falls, freezing temperatures continue and life all around seems gone, Spring is a real wake up call!

Of course with spring comes a new year of training! The participants of this years program at ARI have all arrived and will soon finish their first month here. 5 weeks ago these 33 people were only names and faces, but now they are becoming colleagues and friends. This is wonderful, but there area also plenty of sorrows that accompany. One participant lost her elder sister days after arriving. We have 3 participants from Nepal, all of whom’s immediate families are safe. But they have lost their homes, many people in their communities and they are very worried about their communities. We are doing what we can to support them, but it is sad. Disasters so far away become very, very close at ARI.

As the new training begins, we need to ask all of you who support us to pray with us. Pray that the training will be impactful and pray that as we face all of the unknowns this year, that the Holy Spirit will be our strength, that Jesus will give his peace to each participant, volunteer and staff and that the Father will guide us throughout these 9 months.

Pray for us as well. Nasushiobara Church and Youth Group and the Minngos Gospel Choir are growing and maturing and now we need God’s guidance as we seek to train leaders to guide in these ministries. This coming December we will be back in the US for home assignment and although we plan to come back in March of next year, this is a good opportunity to empower other Japanese leaders to keep ministries flourishing.

Finally, if you would like to give to the Nepali disaster, UMCOR is accepting donations for the work there. One formal ARI Volunteer is now a UMC missionary in Nepal, and safe, so know that our church has feet on the ground and we can empower them to take physical and spiritual support to people who are hurting right now. Donations to support the response to the earthquake in Nepal and other international disasters can be made through UMCOR Advance # 982450.

Hope to see you back here soon!!!

In Christ,

Jonathan and Satomi

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Merry Christmas!

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

2014 is ending and a new year is beginning! We pray that you have been blessed this past year and have something to be thankful for! We are definitely thankful for all the love and support we always receive from you and many others and hope this letter finds you doing well!
As we look back on 2014, we really feel like the year went by so quickly. There was no big event that happened in our lives, but many small ones that seemed to come right after another, and before we knew it, it’s the 12th month of the year! This might have something to do with us growing a year older, but none the less it means we’ve been blessed with more time in ministry and to meet new people!
You might be thinking what kind of little events! We had a couple of freak snow storms in the winter that closed trains, highways and caused plenty of trouble. Then we saw off our pastor of 2 years and welcomed a new one at the end of March. As usual a new class of participants arrived at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) and began their training in April. In June we had the first mission team from the Florida conference visit and minister with us! Thanks CCW! Then Jonathan’s mother and niece came to Japan for a few weeks! We went on a whirlwind with them around Japan, introducing our niece to many first time experiences! There would good ones, and uhhh things that were maybe too different for her at this age! We continued with programs for the gospel choir throughout the summer, the opening of our new chapel on campus in September, Oikos Chapel. Of course our Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration, a couple of trips to Western Japan and now the participants have graduated and we are ready for Christmas!!!
It seemed that there was always something to do, someone to meet or somewhere to go and once one deadline had been met, a new one was ready for us. We do not know if that is true for everyone, but it was the way we felt this past year. It was very easy to just become busy, and be caught up in going through the motions.
But in the middle of the year there were things that would happen which would wake us up from this slumber. We had three participants from Liberia this year in the training program. Ebola hit their communities and they sat here helplessly as friends, relatives and community members passed away. Although Ebola was on the news and everyone knew about it, it was happening within the lives of our friends and felt very very close. We were challenged to think of how to help people cope with loss and helplessness.
Yet in the middle of it all we were encouraged. One of these participants is a pastor and continued to say that what we needed was more prayer. He led revival services at several churches where we would pray and anytime there was good news, he was the first one to be thankful for the hand of God. In the midst of incomprehensible suffering and a feeling of helplessness, this man taught us to seek the face of God and be thankful in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for us through Christ Jesus.
This has helped us as we continue to recover from the disaster and nuclear meltdown of 2011. 2014 marked 3 years since the disaster. Our campus has almost completely been rebuilt and radiation levels have continued to drop. In fact the only two things we would not eat from campus were Bamboo shoots (used a lot in Asian food) and local mushrooms. Although we can not say that there are no longer any effects, things are becoming better. But it is an ongoing struggle and thankfulness has been important.
And we are thankful for the continued learning and ministry opportunities that we have had both at ARI and in the local community. The Gospel Choir, MINNGOS, continues to grow and reach into the local community. We became much closer with other gospel choirs from our prefecture this year, doing more and more singing with local people. This has helped us to think more of how this choir can both share the hope of Jesus Christ with both those singing with us and local people who are searching for salvation. From nursing homes to schools, local festivals and churches, God has allowed us to meet many new people. He has also opened up the hearts of more of our members. They are seeing Jesus, not as a religious figure, but as a friend, as a savior, some even as their own Lord and Savior. This has encouraged us time and again. This year we have been told by many people that while they liked singing before, singing Gospel music is different for them. They feel something. We tell them that when you are praising the Lord Jesus, something different happens, freedom, peace and the power of the Holy Spirit comes over us, calms us, clears our vision.
As we realize that this group is a great place of ministry we are also praying and seeking for how God would use it into the future. As a missionary friend told Jonathan, the missionaries Job is not to do ministry as much as empower others to do ministry. We have known this and sought to do that, but were challenged again to continue seeking for a local person who can lead this ministry into the future.
Our role as missionaries has also been on our minds as we continue serving Nasushiobara church. The church called a new pastor in April and it has been a pleasure to work aside him this year. He has really took the lead, showing us what it means to build a church with people, to help the church build herself. We have watched not only the church continue to grow, but also the people take ownership and become more active. We are very excited for the future, as this pastor has also brought a new vision and things that we have been praying for are now becoming a reality. Praise God!
Now you might be wondering what we personally have done this year. Well Satomi has joined hands with some local ladies to begin a children’s foster home. This has taken much time and energy, but she is learning many things about children and their need for love. Although God has not given us children yet, we are sure this type of work is preparation for our future. Satomi also began her own garden. Although it took a few years to start since coming here, she went full speed ahead with a bountiful harvest that was able to be shared with many! Even now, she has planted some onion and garlic to harvest in the spring!
Jonathan on the other hand tried his hand at some cooking this year. One comment always raised by ARI participants is the desire to practice food processing more. Well, guess who provided that opportunity??? Yes, Jonathan! He made jam, pickles, baked cakes, bread, you name it! Nothing burnt down and the food was edible! Jonathan also made a concerted effort to ride his bike more this year. After returning from the US in March of 2013, his pants have definitely felt tighter, and this was one effort to loosen them up a bit. Only time will tell if it was successful!
Together we tried to take some more time to be together and make an effort to see more local sights. We realized that there are several famous Christians from our area and plenty of beautiful creation that we had not yet seen. Both of us being from tropical climates and rather flat landscapes, we are learning each year to not just dread winter but to learn how to enjoy the changing of the seasons and the mountains and rivers that are so close by! God’s creation is beautiful!
As we close, we thank you again for your own going support. Through your financial gifts we continue in ministry and believe the Kingdom of God is advancing. We continue to look for covenant partners in ministry and if you are interested please to let us know and we will tell you more about the process. We also thank you for your love, letters and emails. They are a blessing, giving us joy to continue
We thank you very much for your continued prayers and ask that you continue this year! We have written prayer points on the back of our Christmas card this year! Please put this somewhere you will remember and pray for us, our ministry and Japan when you are able!
Finally, we hope you are following our ministry throughout the year on our blog. If not, go on it today! We try to keep it up to date and knowing you will be reading it keeps us accountable to do so!!!
As we head into 2015, we pray that God will bless and keep you. That the Kingdom will continue to advance and that Jesus will reign in the hearts of more people! Maranatha!

Community Life Christmas Party 2014

Merry Christmas from our Community Life team at ARI

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Minna de Gospel! MINNGOS!

We are in the 5th year of ministry at ARI and almost that long we have been involved with a local gospel choir that we helped to start.  We meet weekly here on campus at ARI and have around 30 people form the surrounding community joining our staff, volunteers and participants to sing praises to God.  It really is amazing how week in and week out people are so willing to gather to sing, pray and be together.  Probably half of the members are not official followers of Jesus.  They are weekly having experiences through the music, words and fellowship, but they are still just taking it in.  But some of them have become followers of Jesus and their stories warm our hearts.

Music has power.  In fact one pastor from Ghana tells me that people have to be careful not to be taken over by the power of the drums in his churches.  There are spirits involved with music that are not all from God.  But God has and continues to use music to touch the hearts of people and more importantly change the hearts of people.  For both of us, that has been true.  How about you???

This year MINNGOS took on many opportunities to minister.  While they were all blessings, we learned a need to pick and choose, or that sometimes even ministry opportunities need a no.  Because this is a very difficult thing to practice we ask that you join us in prayer, that God will use this group for His Kingdom and give it’s leaders wisdom on how best to do ministry.

Recently we have had students from the local university, a local middle school principle and some teachers at local schools come and be with us.  There are many new opportunities and ways to go with this ministry but we really want it to be used in the most fruitful way, not just anything.  So again we ask that you would join us in prayer, that God would continue to use this wonderful ministry, but deepen it and empower it through the Holy Spirit.

We pray that the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation, is alive in your mind and hearts as well and that as we partner together, God will spread the Gospel through us throughout Japan and the world.  Thank you to all of you who do that with us in prayer and through your finances.  Also, if you have thought about sponsoring our ministry financially in the past, as we head into Christmas this is as good of a time as ever!  Head over to The McCurley’s page and you can find the link to do that online!

Thank you again!,

Singing at a charity concert in Fukushima!  Jonathan's face...

Singing at a charity concert in Fukushima! Jonathan’s face…

It says Minngos!!!

It says Minngos!!!

It's not easy to get 100 people to take a picture together!!!

It’s not easy to get 100 people to take a picture together!!!

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Samui desu ne!!!!

These are words we are hearing very often around here at ARI these days… It means, it’s cold!!!!! And last week we had the coldest day so far this winter, meaning when we woke up to our morning excercises at 6:30am it was about -5 degrees Celsius, which is in the low 20’s!!! Usually we don’t get much below freezing until the end of December. The participants (students) at ARI were a little shocked and it seems like many have gotten sick from about 6am-8am everyday this past week! :)

We want to say thank you to everyone who gave on Giving Tuesday! We sure do hope and pray that at least some of you got your donations doubled this year! They say we will know on the 15th, so keep a lookout on the mission homepage to know.

As we said it is cold now, but we must admit that life at ARI here in Japan has gotten considerably better for us between 2011 and 2014. The usage of insulation in the walls of houses is a very new phenomena in Japan and as we have been rebuilding, we have been able to add insulation into the buildings. This makes winters at least bearable. We have also been very concerned with becoming more self sufficient in our energy usage and creation of our own energy and have put new efforts into using solar energy and bio-gas. Almost all of the buildings on campus now have solar panels that we use to heat water. In the winter we run the water through the floor of some of the rooms to heat the rooms and the rest of the year, the water becomes our hot water to wash our hands, dishes, take a bath, etc… We also are investing time into learning how to create solar powered stations on campus that can charge electronics, or give energy for an LED light along with other purposes.

The reason why self sufficiency is on our minds so much at this moment is because in a matter of days, Saturday the 13th to be exact, we will have our 42nd commencement service. All of the participants are making their final presentations of their dreams for their communities and first steps upon return to their countries. Many of them are thinking of how now they are going to be self sufficient. How will they really put into practice all this learning that they have been putting themselves into!

So we ask that you pray for us! This coming Saturday at 1:30pm the commencement services will start and by 4pm we will have 27 new graduates from 15 countries! If you have time, we encourage you to go to this link (found on the ari website and even pray for each of the soon to be graduates by name.

This week we will try to keep posting each day, pictures and updates on our Gospel Choir, church ministry and the two of us!

We hope you are warm as we are definitely trying to get there! :)

Jonathan was on his last day of the Western Japan Caravan!  This year 20 days.  Very happy reunion when he returned home!  :)

Jonathan was on his last day of the Western Japan Caravan! This year 20 days. Very happy reunion when he returned home! :)

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Double your support again!!!

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and we are thankful for you!!

We pray that this post finds you doing well and healthy!

We want to pass on this information from the mission board.  Just like last year the first Tuesday of December is giving Tuesday, this year that is Dec 2nd.  If you were planning on giving anyway we would love for you to do it on that day.  If you weren`t then we`d encourage you to think about giving on that day!


Here’s the catch.  You have to be one of the first, so you need to do it at 12 midnight Monday night, just as it changes into Tuesday


remember that’s Eastern Standard Time (Hawaiians you guys need to be ready around dinner!!!!).

Agsin, we said….

Many of you already support us financially, but we wanted to let you know about a GREAT opportunity to DOUBLE your support! Especially if you were thinking of supporting us soon, we ask that you think about submitting it on


December 2nd is giving day for GBGM and funds, up to $50,000 per project will be doubled on that day only if you give online. So….

Especially if you were already planning on giving towards our ministry (or any other ministry like ARI) then go to

If you already know you want to support us, then go to the following link on TUESDAY the 2nd and give your hearts desire :)

Thank you!!!

As always, you can see what’s happening with us on our blog,

Jonathan and Satomi McCurley

“I read in a book that a man called Christ went about doing good. It is very disconcerting to me that I am so easily satisfied with just going about.” — Toyohiko Kagawa –
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