Who We Are

Chair’s Message

The JELA Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve neighbors with the love of Christ.

For many years, we were an incorporated association called the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Association (known as “JELA” for short). In September 2021, we converted to an incorporated foundation. At that time, we decided to change our name to the JELA Foundation, because we wanted to go beyond the boundaries of the Lutheran Church, even though we were born out of it.

The goal that JELA envisions is the image of the righteous people described in Matthew 25:35-36 of the Bible. That is to say that we strive to:

  • Give food to hungry people,
  • Give drink to thirsty people,
  • Welcome strangers,
  • Clothe naked people,
  • Look after sick people, and
  • Visit people in prison.

We at JELA ourselves engage in activities to do these things, support such activities by others, and foster people who aspire to do such activities.

JELA has prepared a sponsorship program called the JELA Supporters program. By this program, you can continuously support JELA through a monthly or yearly donation of a certain amount. The amount can range from 1,000 yen per year (which is feasible even for a high school student!) to 10,000 yen per month.

Please consider participating in JELA’s mission by becoming a JELA Supporter.

Shiro Furuya
Chair, Board of Directors
JELA Foundation

Our Mission

We serve
people in need of help
in Japan and around the world
with the love of Christ

Our Motto

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me …… Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Matthew 25:35,36,40

Our History

The JELA Foundation began in 1909 as an association of Lutheran missionaries from the U.S. and as such is one of the oldest NGOs in Japan. At the time, the Japanese government granted permission to carry out mission activities in the areas of education, social welfare and mission.

Founded by American missionaries of ELCA predecessor churches, JELA began its work in a day when Japan needed both schools and social services. JELA funding helped establish schools, orphanages and homes for the elderly, and also provided money for the building of dozens upon dozens of Lutheran churches. After World War II and Japan’s climb to affluence, JELA turned its attention to other needy areas of the world, particularly Asia.

JELA’s Christian mission is to serve all people, regardless of race, nationality or religion. Our mission is best described in Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Currently, JELA is engaged in a wide range of programs – including the support of refugees in Japan, construction of schools and study centers in South Asia, and sending volunteers abroad to help people in need. JELA has established saving children as its special mission. JELA aims to help as many children as possible who suffer from a lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of proper education and lack of adequate health services.

JELA now works with other international Lutheran NGOs to provide necessary aid in India, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Brazil, which has a large Japanese immigrant population. Yet, JELA feels no geographical boundaries and will follow God’s calling to serve others anywhere in the world.

Our People

Board of Councilors

Kiyohiko Akehi (Retired Pastor, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church)

Hiroyuki Takita (Secretary-General, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church)

Chitose Sakamoto (Pastor, Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church)

Hiroyuki Nakagawa (Former Director, Tokyu Agency International Inc.)

Miki Taniguchi (Domestic Relations Conciliation Commissioner, Kumamoto Family Court; Civil Rights Commissioner)

Emi Yamauchi (Staff Member, Bethany Home)

Yuichi Nakajima (Principal, International Christian University High School)

Tomoko Arakawa (Principal, Asian Rural Institute)

Takeshi Kobayashi (Managing Director, Hunger Free World)

Board of Directors

Shiro Furuya, Board Chair
Chief of General and Financial Affairs, Soen Gakuen

Hiroshi Morishita, Managing Director
Auditor, Japan Lutheran College

Shun-ichiro Matsuoka, Managing Director
Pastor, Ookayama Lutheran Church

Kaoru Watanabe, Director
Executive Director, JELA Foundation

Naoki Asano, Director
Pastor, Ichigaya Lutheran Church

Yoichi Sugimoto, Director
Pastor, Kumamoto Lutheran Church

Rika Fukazawa, Director
Labor and Social Security Attorney

Takashi Aoki, Director
Visiting Researcher, Meiji University

Lowell Gretebeck, Director
Ph.D.; Professor of International Development and Business

Yoshiko Ando, Auditor
Former Financial Officer, World Health Organization

Kiyoshi Ikenaga, Auditor
Director, Tokyo Association of People from Kumamoto Prefecture; Former Councilor, Kyushu Gakuin

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