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D.C.-area planter, church taking Christ to ‘all peoples’

WASHINGTON (BP) — What connects Osaka, Japan and Fairfax, Va.?

Given that Fairfax lies less than 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., one might expect several connections between the major Japanese port city and a suburb of the United States capital. But, one particular link has led to radical life change for several Fairfax residents.

About a year ago, All Peoples Community Church (APCC), led by pastor Kenji Adachi, held its first service. Pastor Adachi, born in Osaka, moved to Fairfax in 2003 to pastor a multiethnic church in the Washington D.C. metro area.

Growing up in Japan, Adachi and his family were non-practicing Buddhists, but when he was 6 years old, his family moved to the Bible Belt city of Greensboro, N.C., which, Adachi contends, at the time had “more churches than Asians.”

After being saved at the age of 16, God called Adachi into the ministry while he was in college. He earned a master’s degree in theology and set out for the D.C. area with his family where he would pastor for 12 years before starting the church planting process.

Adachi did not seek to plant out of a mere desire to do “something new.”

As he puts it, paraphrasing pastor and author Tim Keller, “church planting is the single most effective way to reach lost people, and not just lost people but the types of people who are new in the area, people who are millennials, people who are un-churched, people who are de-churched and people who are of different ethnic groups.”

Adachi’s vision to see all these different types of people come to know Christ would become the namesake of All Peoples Community Church (APCC).

Adachi planted with the help of McLean Bible Church. Together they partnered with the Send Washington D.C. effort of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) in an effort to reach one of the world’s most influential cities.

Clint Clifton, NAMB’s city missionary in D.C., pointed out that “the vast majority of churches in [the Washington D.C. area] are plateaued and declining, and 80 percent of our churches have seen no growth in the past five years.”

Such trends helped fuel Adachi’s clear passion for the D.C. area. A native son of Japan, he had the opportunity to plant, according to APCC’s vision statement, “a church for all peoples united in Christ, for Christ and for [their] community.” That vision led Adachi and his team to success as the church, in just nine months, now averages around 120 attenders every Sunday.

Before deciding to plant in Fairfax, Adachi had lived in the community for more than 10 years. Despite the leg up such familiarity gave him, he knows that he has not been alone.

“I credit my core team that helped us launch,” Adachi said. “They were people that I had decade-long relationships with that I could trust and rely on.”

Adachi readily points out, “Jesus is building His church with His people.”

The fellowship that would become APCC started in Adachi’s home as a Bible study in January of 2016. As it grew, the gathering started meeting in a local school, Eagle View Elementary.

Outreach efforts have included block parties and a free sports camp at the school. APCC’s dedication to serving the community has continued.

“They are focused on neighborhood and school ministry rather than being an attraction from a regional standpoint,” Clifton said.

One of the highlights so far has been APCC’s First Annual Fall Harvest Festival that took place last year. With the help of a team from a partner congregation, Church of the Cross in Grapevine, Texas, the event drew “easily 500 people,” Adachi said. The local fire station even brought in their fire engines, which helped draw attention to the festivities.

This past May, APCC had its first baptisms, and four people made public professions of faith in the Eagle View Elementary School cafeteria. Since the church’s official launch last September, at least five people have been saved. Pastor Adachi can relay several stories of people whose faith has been rejuvenated through God’s working in the ministry of APCC.

Many unchurched people are attracted to the church first because of how it serves the community. Adachi calls this “hearing the Gospel backwards.” Conversations start with the subject of restoration and creating positive change in the community. Adachi’s lost neighbors start working for the Gospel and, in the process, hear the Gospel as Adachi and other members of his church explain the reason they work so hard to restore the brokenness in their community.

Adachi’s passion for all peoples and APCC’s dedication to the community have created a channel for the Gospel to reach many in the D.C. area.