Osborne April ’11
Hello Friends and Family,
With some recent technological problems and limited time, I apologize I cannot send out my regular report this month. I know this is ‘text only’ but I do want to ‘touch base’ with everyone: giving a few highlights, share upcoming ministry, and seeking your partnership in prayer.
In past reports, I’ve shared about a growing friendship with Hiroaki. Recently, Hiroaki asked if he could move into our house as a big life step, and to grow in his search about a relationship with Christ. I believe this is a huge step in discipleship as well. Through prayer and conversation, our ‘family’ was reminded that it’s not our house – it belongs to God and is a house of ministry where people should encounter God’s love. With joy, we have welcomed Hiroaki into our home and family. Please pray for this growing relationship and transition.
Another friend and seeker is Takumi. Recently graduated from Ibaraki Christian University, he works for the National Postal Service. He lives in company dormitory in Chiba, and goes back and forth by train to Tsuchiura (a town 40 minutes south of Mito in Ibaraki) where he works. He’s looking for an apartment in Tsuchiura or Mito so that he can live nearer to us. It’s incredible that this seeker has budgeted weekly train fare and meal times to worship at Mito Church every week. Please continue to pray for him and his journey to faith.
East Japan Disaster Relief
This month has been incredibly busy for those within Japan and also for those outside of Japan lending support in various ways to meet the challenge of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant disaster. Through several meetings and lots of prayer, a committee has been formed and shape/focus to our work is coming together. We’ll work alongside the Be One house church network that have worked tirelessly for several weeks. A truck has been purchased for taking supplies, and we send our first (of many!) teams from Mito Church to serve from April 29-May 7 in the town of Ishinomaki. Last Sunday, we had an orientation time, and we’ve been collecting supplies at the church building that will be packed into vehicles tomorrow. We leave early Friday morning.
A blog has been set up online to share with others what we are doing and how funds are being used, and including ongoing needs as we discover them. As you have a chance, I encourage you to look at the blog at least once a week to keep up to date, and to guide your prayers for this effort. The blog is East Japan Relief. If you cannot access the internet, perhaps you could ask someone savvy in that area to print off the latest update for you.
Please pray us: there is still some risk, and even as we take precautions, we never know if another earthquake or tsunami could happen. While this is sobering, we trust that God is guiding us and protecting us and we value your prayers. Please pray for group members specifically by name: Gaku, Emiko, Hiroaki, Keiko, Toshiyuki, Akiko, Koichi, Sasha Ingle, Joel Osborne, Kendon, Brett, Allen, and Bradley.
“Megumi No Ido” (Well of Grace / 恵みの井戸) Young Adult Cell Group
Our cell group has exploded in numbers as we have between 14 and 18 people each week. One third of this group are seekers, and there is almost an equal balance between men and women in this group. Recently, we had a picnic and time of praise under the beauty of the cherry blossoms. Many cell group members are becoming involved in the disaster relief ministry. Gaku continues to grow in his role as a spiritual leader, worship leader, and teacher in this group (and slowly in other roles at Mito church). Currently we are studying about who God is and how He reveals His character in scripture. In May, the Namae family will host us in their home for a meal and Atsushi & Mari will come to share about choosing a Christian spouse, building a strong Christian marriage and family. We desire your prayers daily for this group of young Christians and seekers.
Seven new AETs (Assistant English Teachers) selected by my brother and an additional four from Mito’s sister city of Anaheim, California, arrived in Mito on April 15. We are excited to share life with those God has brought to Mito this year. I have a sense that with the addition of many of these new people along with the foundations and growth of many from this past year, we will take deeper steps spiritually and missionally. On a personal note, Sasha, Gaku and I are so excited and thankful that God has brought some of our closest friends in that group. Please pray for these people: Ben & Erica, Annalisa, Paul & Brooke, Holly, Terry, Kayu, Brett.
Church Life & Ministry
It is a busy time for Mito Church. In our recent annual Community Discernment, we affirmed this year’s spiritual theme “Like A Tree: Deepening Roots, Spreading Branches”, including Ephesians 4:16. Our goals for this year: 1) Rooted in Word, 2) Rooted in Community, and 3) Rooted in Love. We’ve completed the preaching series on Ephesians, and Atsushi and I will begin a new series on 1 Peter. We committed to continue our service in Agape (homeless ministry), Cambodia, and to put considerable effort for the long haul in the East Japan Disaster Relief.
In the transition, we are having a period of praise and prayer on Wednesday evenings. On Sundays, we are completing the Spiritual Disciplines. Recently, we studied about Simplicity and Worship. New studies on Sundays and Wednesdays will begin after the Foreigner Retreat on May 13-15.
Some of the recent special events were: celebrating the Easter season including a time of worship planned by those in the children’s ministry, our annual children’s blessing ceremony, and our annual memorial day at the church gravesite to give thanks to God for the lives of faith of those who have gone on before us and be reminded of our future hope. The Yamamuras, Gaku, and Masako are planning a fun concert and fellowship activity at a mountaintop cafe for the afternoon/evening of May 15.
We give thanks for the many ways God is changing and growing us, and the ways He is working in our midst and around us. May we continue to give ourselves obediently and sacrificially for Him and for His glory in Mito city, in Japan, and in the world.
Thank you for your ongoing prayers and words of encouragement. Blessings on your journey.