Hello family and friends!
We write this newsletter with great excitement with what the Lord has done and started to do through the mission team we received from our home church this month.
“I don’t think it would work in Japan…” is what Pastor Ogawa thought when we started talking about going into the public schools. We didn’t know that until the Sunday after the team left, when Pastor Ogawa confessed in front of the church, relating with great excitement what he had seen the Lord doing through the team and through himself.
The truth is that we didn’t know if that would work either! But there are times when a “crazy” idea crosses our minds and we are not sure if it is from the Lord or just crazy. Over many years of serving on the mission field, we realized that often it’s both!
We began praying with Pastor Ogawa and the rest of the leadership, moving forward one step at a time and to our surprise, one door opened. It was right at the school where our children go and then we understood that was one of the reasons we felt the Lord’s clear leading when we were praying about putting our kids in the local schools last year. The constant meetings with teachers and the principal were vital to building relationship and trust throughout the year. (This school year our two elementary students, Johann and Olivia, go to the local school two days a week and are homeschooled three days a week.)
After this first door opened, it was only a matter of time and contact with the right connections that the other schools opened as well. So during the week they were here, we went to two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school.
Each school was different and the group was so flexible to work with whatever they had. We also had opportunities to do a presentation as a Gospel Choir (that was planned on the fly), and they worshipped with so much energy that it was contagious to all who watched! They also were able to introduce themselves openly about their purpose not only to the school but also to the TV channel and newspaper reporter that came to see what was happening.
Their time here started with some worship together, followed by an awesome Japanese meal prepared by Pastor Ogawa. The next morning, Pastor Andy Smith preached for Sunday service. There was an introduction of the team and at the end, a great time of praying and ministering to those who stepped up for it.
The team also visited a nursing home, reached out to kids at the local sports gym after shooting some hoops together, hosted a mini VBS for kids at the church every afternoon for one hour, did outreach activities in the evenings, and finally right at Machida train station we did one more presentation of the Gospel Choir worship!
The kids went out to talk to the people who gathered to watch, inviting them to come to the big Friday Night Outreach we were planning, which was just a bigger version of what we do here every Friday night. We had a great turnout with music, skits, games and a straight message by Adam Barker, who was leading the team. There were quite a lot of new people that had never come before and who said they would come again even when the team is not here anymore.
We are glad to say we are so proud of these young people that worked so hard to be able to come, kept a good attitude as they faced jet lag, bad weather, spiritual, emotional and physical challenges and yet, did not stop showing their smiles and Jesus’ love toward every person they came into contact with. The coming of the team was a great encouragement to us and to our children. There was a lot of singing, dancing, playing and laughter. There was an environment of love and unity that caused others to want to join in and hang out with this crowd.
All of these were opportunities that the Lord provided, and our whole team was encouraged once again to see how He manifests Himself if we will just take a step forward by faith and not by sight. We wish we would operate in that realm every single day, don’t you? But thankfully, our patient Father continually works with us and takes us by the hand to learn to trust Him as we step out of the boat and walk.
I guess the lesson of this month, for us, our church here, and we believe for the mission team is that God manifests His power when we decide to step out of the boat!
In which areas of your life has the Lord been challenging you to step out and believe Him?
THANK YOU for praying them through, and for upholding this nation and our mission in your prayers. Please continue to pray for those that were reached throughout this past week, that they would continue to come and eventually come to faith in Jesus Christ! Hallelujah!
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10
Below some images of what happened during that week…