Church Location & Address:

3-3-3 Nakatsu-Cho, Iwakuni-shi
Yamaguchi-ken 740-0027 JAPAN
www.calvaryiwakuni.com

Calvary Chapel Iwakuni is a church plant out of Calvary Chapel Okinawa. It is located about 40 km southwest of Hiroshima, in Iwakuni city, just outside Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Sensing God’s call to Iwakuni, Mike Silva, a former U.S. Marine Officer, and his family left military life and moved to Iwakuni in September 2005. They started a Bible study in the living room of their home on November 13, 2005. God, by His Grace, established a church out of that Bible study.  In September of 2013 Pastor Mike and his family were called to Orlando, Florida and Pastor Glenn Phipps and his family from Calvary Chapel Okinawa moved to Iwakuni to continue the work began through the Silvas.

The Phipps family moved to Okinawa Japan in 2003 to serve alongside Pastor Rick Barnett at Calvary Chapel Okinawa, sent out of Calvary Chapel Living Water in Corona, CA. In 2013, they moved from Okinawa to Iwakuni, Japan, to serve at Calvary Chapel Iwakuni. Calvary Chapel Iwakuni is an English speaking church ministering primarily to military and government employees at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Currently the church has two people on staff- Glenn and Keegan Davis, who recently came up from Calvary Chapel Okinawa with his wife to help the ministry in Iwakuni. Up until July, Roy and Nancy Toma, a missionary couple with the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society, had been serving alongside the church as unpaid full-time staff.  They have since felt God calling them back to the states and have returned to California.  The rest of the leadership within the church is comprised of volunteers from within the body.  As it is a military base, families typically live there for three years before moving to their next assignment, so the turnover rate is very high, which provides a unique challenge to maintaining leadership within the ministries of the church. Adding to this challenge, many of the service members are gone for several months out of the year for military exercises and deployments, sometimes with little advance notice.

Worship Ministry – Nick & Je Metroka

I spent the last year serving as the Administrative Pastor and Worship Pastor at Calvary Chapel Iwakuni, Japan. The year of 2021 saw a lot of growth in the local body, as the church learned to deal with the lasting effects of COVID on attendance and membership. There were a lot of exciting things that happened, such as the relaunch of the men’s ministry with monthly breakfasts, and the return to in-person VBS over the summer. Although primarily serving in the administration and music ministries, I was also able to re-start the youth group in September, which has been a great blessing for the middle school and high school students in the body.

Of course, the biggest news is that Je’s fiancée visa was approved in the beginning of 2022, and Je and I were able to travel to Colorado to finally get married! We are currently staying with my family in Montana while waiting for all of Je’s paperwork to get processed and approved, but hope to ultimately make our way back to Japan to serve at Calvary Chapel Iwakuni together.

– Nick and Je Metroka

Children’s Ministry – Jacob & Zulema Bywater

“…I am accomplishing a work in your days – you would not believe it even if you were told!” Habakkuk 1:5

There have been so many unexpected twists and turns in the ministry over the past few years. After three months of interning at Calvary Chapel Iwakuni (CCI), I joined a missions team in the Philippines for a month before returning to the US for what I believed was a return to ‘normal’ life… but God had other plans. I was invited to return to Japan to join the staff of Calvary Chapel Iwakuni. So, in the fall of 2019 I returned to Iwakuni, Japan to serve as the director of children’s ministries. This was a new and exciting challenge as it was something that I had never before done. I remembered the words Pastor Larry (Calvary Chapel Curriculum) gave me shortly before my return to Japan, to simply teach God’s Word and let Him take care of the rest. It has definitely been a blessing to me to be able to teach these little ones and train and encourage others to do so as well.  During this time I was also given the opportunity to facilitate women’s Bible studies and help with the AWANA club aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

In the fall of 2019 I had the opportunity to assist Jacob Bywater with a Japanese Thanksgiving Outreach he was hosting at CCI.  Working together on this outreach provided us the opportunity to get to know one another – eventually leading to us start dating. 

In the beginning of 2020, COVID happened. As God would have it, the Hinchey’s were in Iwakuni when the lockdown began and David was instrumental in helping retrofit CCI for live-streaming services. This also allowed CCI to accomplish a number of much-needed remodeling projects while most of the congregation was attending services online.  I also had the opportunity to experience online teaching for both Sunday School and women’s Bible studies. Once the base lockdown was partially lifted, Jacob was able to step in and assist with the audio, video, slides, and live-streaming ministries.

In mid 2020, Jacob’s mother was diagnosed with liver cancer, causing us to question our plans and timelines. Jacob proposed and we were engaged in the fall of 2020. Due to our desire to have our immediate family present, and being sensitive to Jacob’s mother’s health restrictions, we were wed in a very small family ceremony in Beaufort, SC in December, 2020.  We returned to our various ministries shortly thereafter. Due to now being officially attached to the base with Jacob’s job as a contractor, we are required to adhere to military regulations regarding COVID restrictions and limitations. This has resulted in an often hilarious and frequently frustrating adventure dealing with ever-changing rules that we must follow if we wish to remain in Japan.

Looking back over the last couple of years, we feel blessed to have been along for this crazy, wonderful, amazing adventure, following God’s leading, one step at a time. The constant turnover in the military side of the congregation, and the ever-changing restrictions, have resulted in a constant change in ministry opportunities for us. We would like to thank you all for your prayers and support for us each and every day. 

We love you all!  

– Jacob & Zulema Bywater  

Read the CC Iwakuni update here

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