Hysten’s Rpt: Feb-Mar ’13
Although Spring has come, it is still very cold here in Shizuoka. It is at this time of the year I am sometimes reminded of one of the luxuries readily available in the United States, “Central Air-conditioning and Heating.” In spite of the cold weather, we are blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be on the mission field here in Japan. The warm hearts we experience reflected in lives of the many with whom we interact, leaves little time for us to reflect on weather conditions. It is a recurring blessing to see the smiles on the faces of the many with whom we regularly interact. I want you to know the support you provide and the encouragement you send, we realize is a manifestation of God’s grace—to us personally and to the nation of Japan.
As has been in years past, the months of February and March are groundbreaking months (so to speak) for us. The new Fiscal Year in Japan begins in April. Thus February and March are crucial months for planning and mapping out goals and objectives for the forthcoming months. Administrative and logistical needs are always matters of consideration, but most importantly we seek to refine methods that have proved effective in our past outreach efforts. We also strive to think of new initiatives we hope will prove effective in the future. We continue to find the greatest potential for soul winning is through our Shizuoka English Bible classes (SEBC). Our SEBC program is a more direct path toward introducing “the greatest story ever told” to those we’ve been blessed to encourage our way. The program highly compliments some of our other evangelistic tools like “Let’s Start Talking,” placing flyers/tracts, preaching, Bible classes part and parcel to church attendance, etc. Beyond our efforts to attract new converts, we continue to do what we can to work toward spiritually strengthening those previously won to Christ.
During February we focused on making minor revisions to our SEBC curriculum and undergirding our efforts to breakdown some of the barriers of paganism we are continually faced with here. This is a delicate process because so many of the errors we work to overcome are obstacles interwoven into the culture. Our SEBC classes provide an excellent forum to discuss the differences between custom and truth. For the most part our classes are going well and we continue to see growth in many of our students. We devoted a good amount of time in February encouraging and working with those who have been recently baptized. We are pleased with how they are progressing and with the outcome of some of our planning, as it pertains to the new fiscal year, which includes fellowship in the interest of their spiritual welfare. We are so thankful to God for gracing us with these new souls; we covet your prayers for their spiritual growth and the potential to utilize them as conduits for even more fruit.
The adjustment from a pagan lifestyle to a Christian way of life is a giant step for our Japanese friends. The transition is most complicated due to less than one percent of the population being Christian. The fact of the matter is that even among those who claim to be Christian, most belong to religious groups from the “denominational” world. Those that are members of the Church of Christ are among a smaller minority. Notwithstanding this reality, we do what we can to encourage and educate all with whom we come in contact, especially our recent converts. Praise be to God for the opportune challenge to proclaim the saving grace that comes from being obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we strive to help build-up the church in Japan.
In addition to our daily work of missions/ministry (see above and schedule of monthly events below) we began the process of coordinating with the Let’s Start Talking (LST) offices for this summer’s LST mission campaign. Unfortunately, it is looking like we will not be able to host a team from LST this year. In the past we have been able to host a campus team from LST; however, in the last couple of years planned teams fell through. The “constant” we have been able to rely on is the team sent by you, our home congregation. We are looking forward to Sisters Karen Loveland and Margaret Hatcher coming to assist us once again this summer. Experiencing their past service and loving hearts for some of the student readers they have already come to know, is being greeted with great expectations! Etsuko and I along with the members of the Nakada congregation are confident they will once again, do an excellent job!
A couple of years ago we shared with you the wonderful blessing of one of our student readers, Mari Sawabe, giving her life to the Lord. In the same letter, we requested prayers for Mari’s daughter Maaya. Maaya was born prematurely in March of 2011. As a result of her early delivery, she was born with several small holes in her heart. We are pleased to report that after two major surgeries Maaya is doing and growing very well. We greatly appreciate the many who have kept little Maaya in your prayers. She still has a weakened immune system; however she continues to improve. Please continue to keep Maaya and Mari’s family in your prayers. May God bless each of you as you continue to serve Him and for your partnering with us in our common quest to win the lost of Japan to Him.
With Warmest Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten