Background of Megumi Chalet Karuizawa(MCK) partial property sales and MCK New Ministry

Warmest greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you for your prayers and wonderful cooperation for the ministry at Word of Life Press. Thank you also for your constant prayers for Megumi Chalet Karuizawa (MCK). We have been discussing and negotiating with many people for possible future ministry at MCK. Now we think we have a way to go, and would like to explain here in this letter about the background and future ministry at MCK. Because of the long-time negotiations with many people and relators, we were not able to share with you on each step, and we are very sorry for causing many concerns during this long negotiating time.

As you may know, we have closed the MCK ministry at the end of October, 2020. We know many people loved MCK, our Christian Lodging and Training Facility and came to visit us in Karuizawa. We saw the Lord’s blessing through you. Thank you so much.

Ever since we have been entrusted with the MCK ministry from TEAM in 2007, we have been holding many seminars, various ways of reaching the Japanese with the good news of Jesus Christ. However, the facilities are getting old and we always had to keep renovating and repairing many parts and there seemed no end. Almost every year we spent $100,000 for this renovation work. At the same time Covid-19 affected our ministry and it became very hard for us to continue the ministry there with the same style and the same size.

For example, in 2019, the water pump broke (as we used the well to take the water in) while we had a group staying with us. A few days later, we saw some cracks on the water-tank, and it took almost a month to get it fixed. On some other occasions, we had to change the boiler, toilet, and there was no end for almost a year to try to catch up with fixing the facilities. At the same time, we had to protect our guests, and these troubles were getting bigger and bigger.

We asked the builder to see what we could do. They said, we will have to spend $100,000 a year to deal with these issues, and this caused our decision to close MCK ministry for a while. Then, Covid-19 came into the picture, and for 2020, almost all of the group guests kept cancelling the reservations, and caused us a big deficit in the ministry there.

Word of Life Press Ministries Board as well as Word of Life Press Ministries Leadership team have been praying for MCK’s future about how to continue the MCK ministry. We thought of many ways, such as asking some other group to take over the management. At the end, our decision is to sell part of the property, and start a new ministry with the left-over property using part of the sales money. We started with selling some of the property to the Christian groups, but no way was found and ended up selling part of the property to the secular relator.

Of course this decision was not easy, the Board members advised us to be very careful on selling the property. At the same time, because of Covid-19, the Word of Life Press Ministry sales decreased, and caused us a big fund-shortage. At the Sept., 2020 Board Meeting, the decision was made to sell part of the property to take care of the shortage of funds of Word of Life Press Ministries. It was a very hard decision to make.

When we shared about selling part of the property with TEAM missionaries (some TEAM missionaries are Board members) and others, some said “we understand the reason now why you have to close the MCK ministry because of the decayed parts of the building”. Some said, “it is too bad you had to close the ministry, and sell part of the property, but we entrusted the ministry there, so we respect your decision of the Board and the leadership team.” They understood how hard it was to close the current MCK ministries.

From the beginning, MCK was used all the way through to expand the Gospel message as well as for the growth of the Christian faith. Mr. Tygert started the Bible College in 1949, then TEAM took over the ministry as Karuizawa Christian Center, and then Word of Life Press Ministries came into the picture to manage the facilities for a Retreat Center type of ministry holding seminars and lodging and rest places all through the year.

At present, we are preparing for the new MCK to continue the spirit of Mr. Tygert which has been kept for more than 70 years. After the sales contract was made on May 30, 2022, we started tearing down the buildings. We feel very sad and lonely looking at the building torn down, but we know the Lord has His new plan and we have a hope in Him. We pray and hope the new MCK ministry will be built on His will and will be used abundantly.

It is now almost a year and half since we closed the MCK ministry. Many people are asking what is going to happen. We thank the Lord for many people’s prayers and concerns. We will make sure that we will meet their requests and desires as we plan the new MCK ministry.

We will let you know once we make a final plan for the new MCK.
Isaiah 43:19 – “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”(ESV)

July 1, 2022
Mr. Shinichi Iwamoto CEO, Word of Life Press Ministries

A Perspective on the New Developments at Megumi Chalet Karuizawa

Tom Sloan, Former: TEAM Missionary; TEAM-Japan Chairman;
WLPM Board Member; MCK Board Member.
Current: WLPM-USA Chairman

“. . . I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

In the 2200 years of church history, it is apparent that the church has not been dependent on physical facilities to further the great commission. In fact, facilities can be both a blessing and a hinderance to the expansion of the kingdom. As I travel across America, there are many, many old churches that are abandoned and in a serious state of disrepair. Other churches have no people but have been transformed into art galleries or museums. People travel to Europe to visit the grand cathedrals that served a wonderful purpose in their day, but today are tourist locations and not centers of gospel proclamation. God Himself was not restrained by buildings and land when he brought Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem. At the same time, these same buildings and properties, in their time, provided a great assistance in taking the Lord Jesus Christ to the world.

The difficult task of any church leader is to determine when something is a blessing to the proclamation of Jesus Christ and when it has become a burden. That is a very difficult task, requiring much prayer and consultation. Is it time to reduce the ministry or at least adjust the ministry at Megumi Chalet Karuizawa (MCK) or should there be a continuation, even if requiring great effort and expense? Who makes such decisions? The history of MCK may give some indication toward these questions.

My history with MCK may be flawed, but I heard that in the beginning of the Tygert era, the property extended all the way to Kumoba-Ike. However, when the need arose, the lake front was sold to maintain and continue the Bible school and ministry. The ministry could have ended at that point.

When it came time for Mr. Tygert to retire, the ministry could have ended then, but TEAM was approached about purchasing the property and after some negotiations, TEAM did acquire what was then known as Karuizawa Christian Center (KCC).

After a number of years, TEAM leadership realized that without some visionary leadership and management, as well as large financial investments, the ministry at KCC could not continue. The ministry could have ended then. This required the leadership of TEAM and WLPM to consult about the possibility of the property and investments in new building being held by TEAM while the management was the responsibility of WLPM. This idea was then agreed upon by both TEAM at an Annual Conference and by a vote of the WLPM Board.

TEAM-Wheaton, under pressure from the International Revenue Service (IRS), began to pressure TEAM-Japan to turn over as many ministries as possible to Japanese leadership. At this time, it was apparent that TEAM-Japan could not manage MCK, thus there were discussions first within the leadership of TEAM and the Board of WLPM to shift full ownership of MCK to WLPM. The idea to turn over full ownership of MCK was taken to the TEAM-Japan Annual conference and the WLPM Board for approval of this arrangement. The ministry could have ended at that point, but WLPM shouldered the full responsibility for everything until the present.

Because full ownership and responsibility shifted first from the Tygert family, then to TEAM, then to a joint TEAM/WLPM effort, and then it finally shifted fully to the leadership of WLPM. As outlined in the letter from WLPM (the Board of WLPM and their leadership team), it was determined that it was time to downsize because of conditions with the facilities, changes in Japanese culture, and the ability of the Japanese church to fully use all this facility. The ministry could have ended here. But, WLPM has a new vision for a much smaller ministry that they believe will fit with the current ministry needs and opportunities in Japan. Will this effort succeed? Only the Lord knows this outcome, but the current chosen leadership of WLPM has determined that this is the way the Lord is leading, just as the Lord led in each and every step in the history of MCK.

The Bible often refers to God’s people as sheep. The implication is that the church is weak, and in need of God’s guidance and protection. In our following of the Good Shepherd, the church sometimes does a great job of following the Lord, while at other times, mistakes are made. Perfect obedience to the Lord will only come in the eternal state, thus we are “prone to wander,” as the hymn writer puts it. By the grace of God, the gospel message continues to go out into the world, not by how well we manage things, but by how well we express the Lord Jesus Christ first to other believers and then to the world. A major element in this process is how well we respect our leaders and forgive our leaders while at the same time, how well the leaders don’t lord it over the people but serve in all humility. Our testimony is not primarily in material things such as buildings and lands, but in love, grace, truth, respect, etc., etc., towards those in the body of Christ first, and then together we express the gift of the Spirit and the love of Jesus to the world.

I am confident that through the 70 years of ministry that have taken place at the site of MCK, through the changes in ownership and leadership, God has been directing. He is directing at this time too. Have mistakes been made in the past? Yes, of course. Are mistakes taking place right now? Most likely some of the process of reaching this decision and executing it have resulted in some mistakes. But is God in charge and leading? I do believe that the leadership of WLPM has done their utmost to seek and know the will of God concerning this decision. I do trust and support them. It is not easy making such major decisions. It takes courage to lead, and I believe that the leadership of WLPM should be supported as they have sought to know what the will of the Lord is on this matter.

Let me end with three memories. At a TEAM annual conference back in the 1980’s, John Schone stood up and with tears in his eyes expressed his deep concern that the foundation for what is the current dining-kitchen-guest facility was grown up with weeds because TEAM didn’t have the will or the funds to move forward. About 2000, 20 years later, I saw MCK full of people, churches having retreats, schools using the facilities, seminars being held and tens of thousands coming at Christmas time. Finally, a few years ago, I walked around the facility, and no one was there, the buildings were beginning to show serious wear, and the place had lost its glory. In my 40 years of contact with MCK, I have seen it undeveloped, then moved into very effective ministry and then slip into disrepair. Who had the money to rebuild the whole facility to meet the needs of the current Japan? The need for something new was obvious. Prayer was needed for God to show the way forward. Who was praying? Did you pray? I believe the Board of WLPM and the staff and leadership prayed. And I believe that the Lord is leading. May we all see the blessings of the Good Shepherd’s leading in this next phase of MCK. Remember, Jesus will build His church and He will do it through the key word in that three-letter acronym of MCK (Megumi Chalet Karuizawa). “Megumi/Grace”.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be on you, in you, and through you all for His glory.

July 3, 2022
Tom Sloan