Hysten Report – May ’10
Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan!
As we review our activities for the months of March and April, we are pleased to report the Lord continues to be gracious unto us. He has blessed us to retain and keep high, the interests of several of our students who have been attending our classes for some time. We would certainly be pleased for you to join us in thanking God for His interceding for us. Please pray too that He will become increasing involved in the lives of those we are seeking who are young and old and virtually from every aspect of life.
March and April are particularly busy times of the year, since this is the window of time when the Japanese Fiscal Year begins and ends. Employers and employees alike have many demands placed on them during this period—so much so we usally experince a substantial fallout in the numbers of people attending classes or church. This year however, we are happy to report that for the most part our numbers remained steady. Through the grace of God we have also been blessed to add a few new students. Most of our evangelistic push comes through our Shizuoka English Bible Classes (SEBC). Therefore, we were greatly encouraged to see our student’s involvement remain constant, which we are praying will lead to more opportunities to convert them to Christ.
During March we placed more emphasis on conducting “one-on-one” studies. We continued to offer the SEBC group classes; however, we wanted to make every effort to provide as much individualized attention to our students as possible. We are optimistic this change will provide a better opportunity for our students to gain more knowledge and understanding…which will hopefully culminate in their obeying the Gospel. For the foreseeable future, this will be our approach. We recently had one of our former students from Okitsu decide to make the trip out to the Nakada congregation to participate in one of our group classes. In addition to her, we were blessed with another student as well. This brings our total to 18 “one on one” studies and five group classes a week. As you can imagine, we invest a great amount of time and effort on behalf of both endeavors. Our available times, outside of these classes were readily filled as well.
In our last newsletter we reported about participating in the engagement ceremony for one of our young adults at the Nakada congregation, Junji Okazoe. Brother Junji informed us in January that he was planning to marry in May to Makiko Tanaka. In March we began conducting marriage counseling with them as well as another couple from Mito, Ibaraki, Brian Snow and Minako Yasuike. I am currently scheduled to participate at Junji’s reception in May and perform the wedding ceremony for Brian and Minako in June. Ironically, Minako is one of the young adults Etsuko and I interacted with when we served with the Mito congregation in Mito, Ibaraki. Please pray for us that God will grant us the wisdom to balance our lives, accordingly, as we serve as missionaries and minister in a variety of capacities that will be productive and in concert with the will of God in Japan.
Most of our work of ministry and missions in April was consistent with what we accomplished in March. We continued our “one-on-one” and group Bible studies; interacted with brethren from some of the other congregations in Shizuoka; made hospital visits and performed counseling with individuals having need.
The Let’s Start Talking (LST) program for this year is right upon us. Every year, the Nakada congregation host LST around the May/June timeframe for up to six-weeks. The designated time period for this year has been established by the Nakada congregation. Scheduling LST is something that has to be coordinated very carefully because of what’s necessary to have all the administrative details and participants in place. There are the students who make up the pool of those who may be interested; scheduling that is affected by the various participants’ employment; advertising development and distribution; lodging and transportation arrangements for students and teachers; avoiding conflicts with other educational opportunities the prospective students may be pursuing and, having the continual interface with LST headquarters who facilitate sending students from various locations (normally) from the United States.
LST is a very wonderful program that has been used very successfully here in Japan; however, it does require a lot of preparatory work, which was a part of the many things that occupied our time in March and April. This year, we made over 10,000 advertisements and we are currently circulating them around Shizuoka City.
Every other month we try to have a fun activity that will allow us to interact with our SEBC students in a different format outside of our classes. At the end of April we were blessed to have a Mexican style party. Now being in Japan, we didn’t have anything real authentic; however, we were able to put our Tex-Mex cooking and Piñata making skills to use. In addition to sharing in the food and fun, the night was highlighted by devotional lead by yours truly. In all, nineteen people attended.
A Note Concerning More Effective Use of Our Time:
Since September, we have been trying to focus our ministry efforts primarily at the Nakada congregation since it is our primary base of operations and the congregation is located in a major hub of the city most people frequent. We have continued to interact with the other congregations in the area on a limited basis. We have evaluated our productivity, the amount of cooperation we receive from the other ministers, and how spending our resources and time overall will best benefit the work of the Kingdom here in Shizuoka. We have concluded continuing to work with the Ooigawa congregation is not prudent and a detriment to what appears to be more potential in Nakada. Ooigawa is often as much as an hour drive. On occasion we have noted some growth in our students at Ooigawa; however, but it is apparent none of them are at this time remotely close to accepting Christ.
In short, we have decided it would be best for us to invest our energies primarily in the Nakada congregation; allowing us to maximize our abilities in reaching potentially more people. We continue to lift all of you up in prayer and in so doing, we ask God to bless each and everyone of you and your families for all that you are doing for the Japanese people, our family and the work of the Kingdom overall. As always we appreciate immensely your support and ask that you keep us in your prayers as well.
In Warm Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten