Hysten Report – Dec 26 ’10
Happy Holidays from Shizuoka, Japan!
I want to begin my newsletter by extending Seasons Greetings from our family to yours. We hope each of you experienced a wonderful Holiday Season. Our prayers for each of you, our wonderful family at MacArthur Park, is that you will experience God’s richest blessings throughout 2011. The past three months of 2010 as often is the case with our fast pace here, came to a close rather quickly. Most of our efforts surrounded accomplishing the various tasks that are necessary to be performed consistent with utilizing our primary evangelism and outreach tool, our many Shizuoka English Bible classes (SEBC). Our classes continue to be well attended. It is a joy and blessing to see our student’s gradual advance in learning more and more about God’s will for their lives.. We have seen God’s presence in our endeavors to serve Him in Japan through the blessings He amply supplies in meeting our needs. October through December were busy months; notwithstanding, God equipped us with encouragement and strength to run the race before us. One such blessing was an encouraging visit from some of our leadership and supporters at Mac. We were encouraged and thrilled by the visit we received from Brother and Sister Daryl Hutchinson and Brother and Sister Don Osborn. Their visit was not only a source of comfort to Etsuko and me and our children, but an uplifting experience to all who had an opportunity to experience them. Additionally, God also graced our ministry with the opportunity to experience some fruit from our labors with a baptism and new convert at the Nakada congregation. Please continue to pray for our mission efforts as we begin to move forward in the New Year. We are grateful to all of you for your continued love and support on behalf of the Kingdom and the MacArthur Park ministry/mission to Japan. Again, it is our fervent prayer that our Lord will bless you all in the New Year and future years to come. Happy Holidays!
In October we continued to pursue our goals of reaching those who participate in our (SEBC) classes. Additionally we were kept busy with preparing new textbooks and tracks for edifying the Christians here. We also stepped up the advertisements we send out to expand our borders in reaching more people through SEBC. The work of ministry/missions is always ongoing and we keep busy pursuing our main goals of strengthening and growing God’s church in Japan. Keeping pace with the demands of ministry here I must admit sometimes causes us to “stretch” and sometimes to even become a little weary.
This is why the recent visit from such key members as the Hutchinsons and Osborns was so inspiring to us. In addition to participating in our SEBC classes, church services and works of evangelism, Daryl and Lori and Don and Lisa readily interacted with our students and the Christians here. Brother Daryl spoke during the morning service and Brother Don spoke in the evening for our Coffee Night and Devotional evening for our SEBC students. Both messages were very uplifting and many Christians and non-Christians attended to hear them speak. In addition to receiving their support and help in our ministry, we were truly blessed with being able to fellowship and spend some quality time with them. Overall, we know we are tremendously blessed because of you our supporting congregation. Thank you for sending Daryl, Don, Lori, and Lisa as your ambassadors of encouragement and love. It is your love for us that enables us with great desire to tell the world about Christ. Thank you!
The Sunday following our visitors return to the States we were blessed to have a new sister added to our Lord’s Church. Through the grace of God, Mari Sawabe decided to give her life to the Lord on November 7th. Sister Mari and I have been studying the Bible for over a year. When I first met Mari she was pregnant with her second child, Maaya. During our Bible studies with Mari we learned that she had been having some health difficulties during her pregnancy and she feared for the survival of her child. In view of her concerns, we soon discovered that Mari was very open to talk about spiritual matters surrounding life. In fact she had been thinking about the existence of God and what changes would come about in her life if God did in fact exist! Additionally she wondered where exactly she would fit within the scheme of His plans for her life and the lives of others, with whom she regularly interacts. Over the course of many studies and prayers with Mari and her little Maaya, we saw Mari’s faith grow. She and her new little new one, Maaya, and her oldest child, Takumi, began attending church weekly. Over time, Mari decided that she could not continue living without the Lord in her life and thus, she wanted to be baptized. We are so thrilled to have a new sister in Christ!
Prayer Request: Little Maaya, was born prematurely, in March of this year. As a result of her early delivery, doctors report she was born with several small holes in her heart. In her early breaths of life, little Maaya barely survived her delivery. She underwent several operations, life support on a machine and two months in the hospital in order to survive. As you can imagine, this was quite a lot for both mother and baby to endure. During these low times we prayed often with Mari and wrote many letters of support, encouraging Mari to trust in the Lord for His care and mercy. As our Heavenly Father always does, in His grace and mercy he granted our petitions and secured little Maaya’s life. Maaya still has some holes that remain in her heart. If they do not close through what the doctors are terming ‘natural processes’ more surgery will be required in February. We are praying God will close the holes before then. Please keep Mari and her spiritual growth along with her little baby girl, Maaya, in your prayers.
December is always a busy month for us. People in Japan, in general, love events that surround ceremonies and festivals that have a traditional feel—and most do not fail to celebrate the coming of Christmas and the New Year. On the whole most Japanese do not know the true meaning behind why there is a Christmas holiday and the underlining reasons for celebrating are either worldly or commercially driven. Although the Japanese as a nation do not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, in view of the opportunity the occasion presents, we take time to focus attention on the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We do our utmost to seize any available moment to introduce people to the real story as to why the holiday “Christmas” exists. Many of the conversations we have with our students pertain to this time of year, pointing out why Jesus came to earth.
Every December we host our annual “Holiday Meal” at the Nakada Church of Christ. Every year, we order and cook turkey and other foods to share with our students. Turkey is not a native bird to Japan so for many of our students, it was the first time for them to eat turkey. A lot of time and work goes into preparing so much food. However, we are always blessed with a good attendance. This year 23 people came to share a meal, fun and Christ with us.
It is truly amazing how fast time passes. As we approach the New Year we ask that you pray with us and for us, as we continue to try and reach the people of Japan for Christ. Thank you again for partnering with us in this mission. May the Lord’s blessings be with you and yours.
In Warm Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten