Hysten Rpt: Sep ’11
Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan! As always, it is our sincerest hope and prayer this newsletter reaches all of you enjoying the grace and blessings of our wonderful Lord and Savior.
Over the last two months we have been busy using a mixture of evangelism programs in our pursuit of the lost here in Japan. Our primary interaction has been with those we are teaching through our English Bible classes. This particular setting provides opportunity for those we teach to learn or sharpen their English skills. More importantly, it opens a window for dialogue with our students to advance and present the gospel. During the past two months we continued our efforts to provide spiritual growth to those previously won to the Lord and encourage my fellow ministers with whom I interact.
We also made return trips to Rikuzentakata and the Ibaraki Prefecture to encourage and support victims of the major disaster Japan has experienced. I also participated in further relief efforts along with another missionary and two of my fellow ministers.
July while a very productive month for us began with an unforeseeable setback. We learned that the second follow-on Let’s Start Talking (LST) team that was to come for six weeks was not going to be able to come to Shizuoka as previously scheduled. This was due to health issues being experienced by some of the team members and other factors. This was a real blow to us when we first learned of this change which appeared revolutionary in scope. We had already recruited 40 plus prospects/readers. Karen Loveland and Margaret Hatcher who were of course from our home congregation there at MacArthur Park, did a superb job when they were here. Their record of performance was not only beneficial to our ministry, but their legacy by way of the reputation they established with those they taught, spread to some of those who were to experience the second LST team. Learning we were not going to be able to receive the second LST as previously planned posed a real dilemma for us. BUT, by the grace of God all was not lost as a result of our being able to implement a revised plan—which came to be for us, “Plan B.”
“Plan B” consisted of me implementing a three-week session for our readers. In wanting to accommodate the many who had applied for LST, I decided to have a three-week short session. We advertised and recruited extensively to encourage those in our area to come to the table of opportunity; we could ill afford to allow vacating what was promised in a land where losing face is deeply embedded in the culture. Perceived abandonment would not enhance for a moment our credibility as Christians. Three weeks is certainly not six weeks, but it is better than ‘cancellation’ and once again by the grace of God, He blessed the modification we made.
Unlike our Shizuoka English Bible Classes (SEBC) that allow a student to take one one-hour class a week, the short session allowed each reader to take up to three one-hour classes a week. As a result, for the three week period I taught on average 45 students a week. Needless to say, keeping pace was quite the task; however, it was a blessing to interact with new and return students more than once a week. This year through the short sessions, we were additionally blessed in having the opportunity to identify first-hand, the interests and spiritual needs of each student. The sessions were also helpful in distinguishing those prospective students who may be more open to receiving the gospel of our Lord and Savior. For the most part in previous years we have relied heavily on the feedback reports of our LST workers concerning the interests and potential viability of prospective students. Our participating more directly this year which caused us for certain to have to stretch, did provide the bonus of us receiving the results of the assessment report/review, sooner!
At the end of July following our short-sessions, we made the return ten-hour journey to bring supplies and aid to those in the city of Rikuzentakata located in the Iwate prefecture. As in previous trips I traveled with two brothers from the Numazu Church of Christ, minister Tomoyuki Shinozaki and missionary Eric Robinson. On this occasion, Brother Fumio Maeda, my co-worker in the faith at the Nakada congregation, was able to come and serve with us. Personally, these works of relief are a blessing to be a part of, yet they do provide for a measure of sadness. Although progress continues and strides in restoration are being made, it is still very evident that life for many will never be the same. Virtually any onlooker would find it difficult to process the moments of grief that are often shared. What remains of Rikuzentakata is a shadow of what it used to be and its citizens are constantly reminded that although Rikuzentakata remains home, it looks nothing like it once did. As the debris and broken buildings are cleared away, so are the memories, dreams, and hopes of those who once inhabited this city. In short, we have interacted with those deeply impacted, shared in supplying aid and endeavored to offer the benefits of accepting Christ. We pray that God will open the hearts of those we have aided. We are prayerful that they will want to know God so that they can truly receive the comfort, hope, joy, grace and love that only God can supply. We have distributed all the funds you so graciously entrusted to us. It was a blessing to be your emissary! Please continue to pray for the many who continue to recover from the recent tsunami/earthquake.
August is when most Japanese take their vacations. The exodus of many for some R&R gave us opportunity to wind down a bit, enabling us to take a brief trip to the Ibaraki Prefecture. While there we were able to make a brief visit to Etsuko’s parents. We were glad to see that Etsuko’s parents are doing well and that their home was in better shape. Like many in the area their home is in need of roof repairs. The situation in Ibaraki has greatly improved since our last visit, which was shortly after the tsunami/earthquake. Unfortunately tremors still remain. Please continue to pray for the many in Japan who remain so deeply affected by the March 11th Tsunami/Earthquake.
Much of our time in August was used in preparing new Bible textbooks and contacting potential students for our Shizuoka English Bible classes (SEBC) that began at the end of August. Following this summer’s LST and short session classes we were blessed with good numbers to work with. Many new and former students participated this summer. It is from these participants that we must decide who is showing the most potential for Christ. This year we received 45 applications for our SEBC classes. It is always a challenge for us to decide which students to add and which students to delete. The interest level they display in learning more about Christ is the primary determining factor. We continue to praise and thank God for your continued love, prayers and support.
In Christ and for His glory – Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten