In 1999, a man named Michael Oh had a vision for a seminary in Japan that would train up a new generation of Japanese Christian leaders for the Japanese people. In Japan, nearly 80% of pastors are in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
More than twenty years before the vision for Christ Bible Institute (CBI) was born, pastors in the Nagoya area were praying for a seminary where young people could be trained for gospel ministry.
The Lord began part of the process of answering those prayers in 1998 when Michael and Pearl Oh came as short-term missionaries to Nagoya, Japan, with Mission to the World (the mission sending organization for the PCA denomination). During their sixteen-month term, Michael asked various missionaries, pastors, leaders, and young people the same questions: “What can be done for Japan? How can we break out of this spiritual stagnancy? What is the most important thing needed for the future of gospel ministry in Japan?” The answers were all the same: “Young leaders need to be trained.”
After a long process of prayer, consultation, and research, Michael felt that the Lord was calling him to launch a new training ministry for Japan. Though there were existing seminaries and training centers, there was a geographic need (with few resources in Nagoya, a city of five million people), a theological need (with many seminaries moving more and more towards liberalism), and a pedagogical need (with most seminaries using educational models unchanged since the 1950s).
Over the next four years, the initial CBI team was recruited, the educational model of Christ Bible Seminary (CBS, the seminary branch of CBI) was developed, and numerous meetings were held in Japan and the United States to build strategic partnerships with Japanese leaders and churches, American churches and organizations, and theological seminaries.
In January 2004, Michael and Pearl and their two daughters Hannah and Mikaela returned to Japan. They were joined by Gerry and Jessica Wheaton (and their sons), Soo Chung, Japanese staff workers Masaji Nakayama and Tom Shimatani and part-time staffer Rev. Yuzo Kurokawa.
In April 2005, Christ Bible Seminary first opened its doors. In May 2005, CBS moved into a location at Nisshin Christ Center, in a suburb of Nagoya.
In June of 2008, CBI in partnership with various churches launched a new English worship service called All Nations Fellowship.
The heartbeat of CBI has always been to be placed strategically within the city, and CBI leadership began exploring opportunities to purchase a building in downtown Nagoya.
From February 15 to May 15, 2010, the CBI team called for 90 days of prayer for CBI and for the purchase of a building we found downtown. God raises $1.2 million in 90 days! But the building CBI hoped to purchase was sold to someone else…
In April 2010, God showed CBI leadership another building—a bigger building in the center of the city, just a 5-minute walk from Nagoya Station. And CBI was able to buy the building.
On March 16, 2011, CBI received keys for the new building. Ministries were re-located downtown, and CBI was able to expand our ministries to include Eikaiwa (English Conversation) classes and the Heart & Soul Café, a safe space for young people to build relationships, on the first floor of the new building.
On April 25, 2014, CBI celebrated its 10th year of ministry with the installation of a cross on the roof and a sign on the building reading “Christ Bible Institute” in Japanese. CBI desires to continue lifting up the cross of Christ and the name of Jesus in Japan.
October 9, 2003:
FONTS (Friends of Nagoya Theological Seminary) is formed to pray and advocate for the vision of CBI.
January 15, 2004:
Official birthdate of CBI! Michael and Pearl Oh, with their daughters Hannah and Mikaela, arrive in Japan.
Decision to change the name from Nagoya Theological Seminary to Christ Bible Seminary (CBS).
April 4, 2005:
CBS officially opens!
May 18, 2005:
1st CBS Convocation. 5 full-time students and 6 part-time students are enrolled at CBS.
CBS students go to the U.S. for a vision trip.
D.A. Carson first teaches at CBS. Robert Coleman and Willem VanGemeren also teach at CBS. Our guest professors provide great blessing for the CBS students!
July 29, 2007:
1st Heart & Soul Outreach Worship Event! 180 in attendance!
March 21, 2008:
1st CBS Commencement: One graduate.
Takanori Oba, CBS’s first graduate and Ph.D. candidate, is hired to teach at CBS.
April 4, 2008:
2nd Convocation: Start of CBS’s 4th year! 7 new full-time students.
June 15, 2008:
1st All Nations Fellowship Church service and Sunday school.
November 28, 2009:
CBI’s first biggest event: A Brian Joo charity concert for a CBS missions trip to Thailand.
Feb. 15-May 15, 2010:
The CBI team calls for 90 days of prayer for CBI and for the purchase of a building we found downtown. God raises $1.2 million in 90 days! But the building we hoped to purchase was sold to someone else…
March 31, 2010:
2nd CBS Commencement: Three graduates.
God shows CBI leadership another building—in the center of the city—a 5-minute walk to Nagoya Station! And CBI is able to buy the building.
March 11, 2011:
Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster.
March 16, 2011:
Received keys for the new CBI ministry building.
March 26, 2011:
3rd CBS Commencement, in the new CBI building: 5 graduates
Heart & Soul Cafe and Heart & Soul Eikaiwa (English Conversation School) launch!
June 1, 2012:
First English Café Night at Heart & Soul Café!
August 1, 2012:
Nagoya Tax Officers tell us that we need to make it more obvious that we are a religious organization, and we will not have to pay tax! We create a window sign that reads, “God is Love” in many languages.
1st Baby English Café outreach event at CBI!
September 10, 2012:
CBI Building Dedication.
Michael Oh’s Personal Holiness class at CBS is simulcast to Tokyo and Chiba sites, in collaboration with ministry partners. This introduces the idea of a virtual CBS. Over 60 students!
Michael Oh is appointed as Executive Director / CEO of The Lausanne Movement.
Brett Rayl becomes Director of CBI Japan and CBI Team Leader.
1st Game Night at the Heart & Soul Café.
September 28, 2013:
Former Yakuza (Japanese mafia) turned pastor Shindo Tatsuya speaks at the Heart & Soul Outreach event! Over 170 people attend.
CBS student mission trip to Cambodia.
April 10, 2014:
6th CBS convocation: 10 incoming students. CBS now has 35 students.
April 25, 2014:
The cross and signage are installed on the CBI building! We celebrate with CBI friends and some gathered with FONTS in Philadelphia over Skype!
5th CBS Commencement: 3 graduates.
New missionary family arrives. The CBI team now includes 36 missionaries and children, and 6 Japanese staff.
LOVE JAPAN Conference is hosted by CBI in Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo. Over 1800 people attend! John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Michael Oh are some of the conference speakers.