Dear family and friends,
We hope this finds you all well and enjoying this special season. 2018 has been monumental for us. Many of you have “walked with us” on this journey, so I won’t go into details here, and I wouldn’t have space anyway. But I would like to quickly recap our year, giving thanks to God for His grace along every step of the way.
“Isn’t Japan so good?”, is what we have been hearing lately from our children. This truly sounds like music to our ears. We have been praying for this since 2016 when we were getting ready to leave Brazil for good. Thank you for standing with us in prayer!
After leaving Brazil in June of 2017, we spent seven months in the States, which was a very special time of reconnecting to friends and family. Then on January 30th, we were off to Japan.
It had been nearly 15 years since we left Japan, so for our children it was a completely new experience. They are now: Joshua-16, Dominique-14, Israel-12, Johann-10, Olivia-6, and Annaliese-4. We had tried to teach them some Japanese during the last couple of years, but because of the lack of opportunity to use it, we had a hard time progressing beyond the basics. This is the main reason that we made the drastic decision shortly before coming here to put our children in Japanese school for the initial season in Japan. We strongly felt the Lord’s leading in this, and His peace, although you can imagine the challenge it was.
We are so thrilled, though, with how they have flourished here! This is God’s grace, for sure. They are speaking and understanding Japanese SOOO much better than ten months ago, and being in school has given us a new cultural understanding as well as many opportunities to get to know people and reach out to them.
We continue to work with the ministry in Brazil through a growing list of emails of families who receive our family devotionals and videos with biblical teachings on family. Currently we are working on an online platform to provide all the content we have ministered in our family seminars as well. The second edition of our book was published this year and we continue to produce other resources as well.
Fabio continues to meet frequently with Pastor Ogawa for prayer and mutual encouragement, and recently we have been working on a remodeling job in the church building. Below are some praise reports concerning our family, ministry and this church:
- In March, Israel plus Pastor Ogawa’s two daughters were baptized. This was the first baptism in five years in this church!
- In May we began to have English Night Outreach every Friday, and we have had a very good turnout, week after week, mostly of totally unchurched people.
- In June, Fabio began full-time Japanese language school. It is very challenging, but he is learning day by day.
- In June, Elizabeth was able to begin a Bible study for some ladies that wanted to know more about God. She has had three sessions of four weeks each, and each time several have participated that are not yet Christians, but their hearts are opening.
- In September, we encouraged the Pastor Ogawa to begin weekly prayer and worship times on Wednesday evenings. Then in November, he started a Bible study just before the prayer and worship time. Mrs Yamashita, who just got saved and got rid of her idols, have been coming faithfully to it, and it was recently announced that she and Mr. Han (a Chinese brother) will be getting baptized in March!
- In October, we began a Kids Club Outreach every first Sunday afternoon of the month. At the three we have had so far, we have not had a huge turnout (11-15 kids each time), but each time there have been new ones – some that had never been inside a church before!
- This month we took a vision trip to Nagasaki prefecture. Nagayo is the unchurched town where we plan to church plant after our preparation time in Tokyo. It is the region through which the first missionaries came to Japan in the 1500’s, that is also known for one of the ugliest Christian persecutions in history, and was a target of the atomic bomb. Despite all this suffering, we felt God’s grace and the people’s friendliness everywhere we went. Please continue to pray with us to go and proclaim LIFE in Jesus to the town of Nagayo!
We are encouraged to see all the Lord has done and excited for all that He will continue to do. As we have stepped out in faith, He has continued to surprise us in ways we have not expected! He continues to show us that He knows what He is doing. Unfortunately, we don’t always seem to think so, right? 😀 But we are learning, step by step.
During this Christmas season, let us continue to remember that He is the never changing God and that with just a Word, He can calm the storm, invite a man to join him to walk on waters, raise Lazarus, give sight to the blind, heal diseases, provide for the needy and surprise the generous with even more out of His great generosity. For if He gave his own Son Jesus Christ for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32) He is able to do above and beyond what we can ask or imagine! (Ep 3:20,21)
May He open our eyes to see that He is big enough, no matter what our challenges might be. Let us continue to believe and press on with our eyes fixed on Him. The reward is guaranteed.
Thank you for all your love, prayers and support. We love you and love to have you as a partner with us to serve the King of Kings and expand his Kingdom. Thank you. Obrigado. Arigatou.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9). What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all —how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:31,32)