We pray this report finds you all enjoying the love and blessings of our wonderful Lord!
Much occurred during the monthes of May and June. As in every year, a great deal of our early summer efforts went into preparing for and facilitating this year’s Let’s Start Talking (LST) program. This year we were blessed to have a team of three from Abilene Christian University partner with us in our attempts to reach the lost in Shizuoka City. As a matter of information for those of you who may not be familiar with LST, we in Japan have used the LST program in recent yeas as a springboard for evangelism. LST uses the Bible as a tool to teach English to those who wish to enhance their English skills and in the process, we attempt to draw people to our Lord and His Church. Following a person’s introduction to Christ through LST, we seek to continue to cultivate a relationship with them with the hopes of making them dedicated and effective disciples. Please continue to pray for us in our evangelistic endeavors as we strive to win souls for the Lord in Japan.
In reviewing the month of May we can honestly say we tried to accomplish as much as we could within the time parameters the Lord blessed and made available to us. As we approached the countdown to the arrival of this year’s LST team on May 24th, we (brother Maeda, my fellow minister, and I) took on the major project of painting and repairing the interior of the Nakada church building. Giving the building a physical facelift was an extensive task that consumed both our time and personal resources. Since the Nakada church building’s inauguration some 54 years ago, the interior had gone without repair or new paint. Needless to say, the church building was in serious need of maintenance and a newer look. God’s grace combined with our deep desire to see the facelift become reality spurred us on to perform and complete the tasks as soon as possible. Always in the forefront of our minds was the personal satisfaction we would feel when the refurbishment process was complete. We were able to repair old walls, paint the inside of the church building and do some sprucing up in other ways as well.
We used what time we have available outside mending the building, to continue our quest to do what we could to maximize the potential benefits of the LST team arriving. There is much corresponding, planning and organizing that must be done in order to host a team successfully. As in every year, we endeavored to encourage as many Japanese participants as possible to study with our arriving LST teams. I am very happy to report that God blessed our efforts and that this year’s LST program started well. We will of course continue to follow-up with those who participated. Please pray for us that we can convert some of the prospects we were able to recruit and are now working with.
An additional area of interest that occurred in May was the wedding of Nakada church members Junji Okazoe and Makiko Tanaka. As I indicated in some of my previous reports, Brother Junji informed us in January that he was planning to marry Makiko Tanaka in May. We were flattered to be asked us to be “Witnesses” for their wedding, which is a very special honor in Japan. Additionally they asked me to speak at their wedding. We felt very blessed to share and celebrate what for them was a very special occasion, their wedding day.
At the beginning of June we traveled to Mito, Ibaraki to participate in another wedding. On this occasion I officiated. The wedding involved one of our former young adults, Minako Yasuike, with whom Etsuko and I interacted and studied with on a frequent basis when we were missionaries at the Mito congregation. We also know and often interacted with her groom, now husband, Brian Snow. It is always a unique challenge to perform a wedding in English and Japanese; however, with God’s help, everything went well. Unfortunately, because of our responsibilities surrounding LST in Shizuoka, we were not able to stay in Mito as long as we would have liked to visit family and friends.
I am grateful to brother Maeda, my co-laborer at Nakada, who graciously agreed to handle any issues that might arise while we were away. We were pleased to learn a good number of this year’s LST students were returnee participants who have been a part of LST in previous years. We were pleased even more so, to discover that many who were in our class are some of the same students who are a part of our Shizuoka English Bible Classes (SEBC) that we offer. The remaining numbers of prospects were recruited through a variety of different means; e.g., newspaper advertisements, handouts and door to door canvassing. We were blessed with a total of 48 students who participated in this year’s LST. It was refreshing to learn that our exhaustive efforts to print and distribute several thousand pieces of literature on behalf of LST contributed immeasurably to our overall attendance. Please pray that we will be able capitalize on the soul winning opportunities that the Lord is blessing us with.
The first week of July ushered in the close of LST for the season at the Nakada congregation. Following the departure of this year’s LST team, we began to implement many of the plans we made in preparation for our Shizuoka English Bible Classes (SEBC) which began the second week of July. Every year, in addition to helping to facilitate LST during the summer and sustaining our usual works of ministry (indicated below), much of our time is devoted to the ongoing process of developing textbooks in support of our SEBC classes. We also spend a good deal of time contacting former and new perspective students.
God has blessed us to see new students and many of our past students return to participate again in our classes. In all, we are currently scheduled to host 23 man-to-man classes and 3 group classes a week. As we have indicated in the past, there are various obstacles to overcome in order to reach out and evangelize in Japan. Seeing many students return and new students join our classes is always a welcomed encouragement and blessing. Needless to say, seeing many returning students is a good sign that our readers are becoming more receptive to the Gospel of Christ. Although for many, English in the beginning was the main impetus for attending our classes, we are pleased to see that the apparent lasting impression for some is starting to become learning more about Christ. It is our humble prayer that the foundations we are laying today, will be the establishment from which the church of tomorrow in Japan will stand. Please join us in this prayer as we continue to labor towards this cause. We say it often, but please know we are sincere when we say “Thank You!” for your love and support of us in Shizuoka, Japan.
Warm Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten