How would it feel to be the first to accomplish a feat? Would you lean toward pride in your accomplishment or humility in what God did through you? Maybe a little of both, if we’re completely honest. Let’s meet Yoshie Koyama who was the first lady from Japan to attend a Haggai Leader Experience. This breakthrough occurred in 2001 and today Yoshie is still impacted by her equipping in Maui.

Why is it such a big deal that Japan allowed a female to obtain a visa and be equipped in a Christian environment, half a world away? Although in this decade things are changing, traditional gender roles are still deeply rooted in Japanese society and women often find it hard to step into groundbreaking roles. Yoshie explains, “In the long history of Japan, women have accepted this inequality even among Christians. Many of them are rather reserved and are not willing to take the leadership position for sharing the Gospel and equipping others. They need to learn more and get equipped so that they can grow in their leadership. They need to know the importance of women’s roles at home, at church, and out in the community and society.”

So how does Yoshie serve as a pastor of a Christian church with such stigmatisms alive in her culture? With deep respect for Japanese traditions and her family. And with the desire to make her Savior known in her community and around the world.

Yoshie and her husband, Daiso, pastor Gifu Full Gospel Church.

She and her husband, Daiso Koyama, have been pastoring Gifu Full Gospel Church for several years. She explains, “I haven’t felt any difficulty in working together with my husband who was the senior pastor [and so my boss at work] and is currently the advisory pastor. I have been in charge of the ladies’ group as their pastor. I take initiative and leadership in planning and ministries. I communicate well with my husband, and we cooperate together. I encourage wives to have their own ideas, share them with their husbands clearly, and listen to his response. Then decide the matter together and carry it out.”

And carry it out, she does. Yoshie realizes that she has to have a part in equipping the younger ladies, saying, “At our church, with the ladies’ group, I am trying to teach and equip them so that they are faithful to the Lord and love His Word, family members, His family members, and non-Christians. With the other leaders, I am trying to encourage younger ones to take the responsibilities to keep it going and enlarge the work for His Kingdom.”

Doing her part in her corner of our world, Yoshie seeks to leave a living legacy for generations that follow. One that shows all people matter and that God loves each one. That His people need to share the hope, which can only be found in Him. And she does this through serving others with respect and showing hospitality to all she meets — all with humility that the Lord chose her to break down boundaries to minister to the women of Japan.

Written by Valerie Dyke