Hysten Rpt – Apr-Jun ’13
As we reflect over the last couple of months we continue to rejoice over the goodness of our Heavenly Father. During April and May we continually experienced God’s presence in our lives and ministry. As we count our blessings, we are reminded of your love, support and prayers, without question they are most certainly gifts from our Heavenly Father.
April, May, and June were busy and productive months for us. Highlights of these months included the honor of being asked to be the keynote speaker as this year’s Godorehai (All-Japan Area Wide Worship Seminar). The forum was held on the campus of IbarakiChristianUniversity. This was not only a spiritually uplifting event, but for me a special honor to be asked to speak before such a diverse assembly of the Churches of Christ in Japan. In May, Etsuko and I were blessed to witness our firstborn, Harmony, being added to the Lord through baptism. As proud parents we joined with the Angels in Heaven (Luke 15:7) in rejoicing over Harmony’s rebirth and becoming a member of the Lord’s Church. In June, we were blessed with the arrival of Karen Loveland and Margaret Hatcher. This year they partnered with us by performing one-on-on Bible English classes with 34 students. Through the grace of God, we hope to capitalize on their evangelistic endeavors in the coming months.
“God values the service we render Him whether great or small.” This statement has become a personal motto of mind. It serves as a reminder to be ever diligent in my service to the Lord. It is a matter of emphasis I stress to those I strive to encourage as we seek to do ministry together. Every month here in Japan is filled with opportunities to serve God and there are many things to which we devote our attention and efforts. Realizing even the smallest act of service is noteworthy to God as evidenced by the parable of The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), serves as a real motivator for our members. Daily we are active in various forms of ministry involving evangelism, teaching, and counseling.
Most of our time in April and May was dedicated to preparing for the start of this summer’s English ministries. We prepared and looked forward to the anticipated benefit of our sisters Karen Loveland and Margaret Hatcher coming to partner with us. Thus, prior to their arrival we were kept busy with advertising and registering potential readers for this summer’s English Bible studies. We also worked to create and finalize the curriculum textbooks, the major tool utilized to facilitate this year’s summer English Bible classes. We recruited new and former students and I am happy to report God allowed us, to exceed our quota of readers. Thank you for sending Karen and Margaret to partner with us. I am very optimistic our collective efforts will result in more prospective candidates for the Kingdom.
The highlight of the month of April was being able to return to our old “stomping ground” in Ibaraki to participate in this year’s Godorehai (All-Japan Area-wide worship seminar). The seminar was hosted on Monday at IbarakiChristianUniversity. This year’s theme was “God’s Work in Us.” As indicated above, I was blessed with the opportunity to be the main keynote speaker for the seminar/event. My message was entitled, “The True Source of Our Strength” and the scripture I based my sermon on was Philippians 4:4-13.
God graced my message! I was well received and the seminar was well attended. The Sunday just prior to the seminar, I was invited to speak at the Katsuta Church of Christ, also in the IbarakiPrefecture. Overall, our time in Ibaraki was a blessing. It was wonderful to reunite with many brothers and sisters throughout Japan. In addition to the honor of speaking, upon our return to Shizuoka, I was asked to send a manuscript of my message which I have later learned is being published in Japan’s gospel magazine the Fukunishi. God is good!
In May we were blessed to see our firstborn, Harmony, give her life to the Lord. Though just a youth, Harmony conveyed to us her heartfelt desire to obey the gospel, a clear sense of what it meant to do so and the importance of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. As parents, what a comfort it is for Etsuko and I to be a part of the process of embodying Matthew 19:14 “… Let the children come to Me….” The Lord has truly blessed us and we are tremendously proud of Harmony in her decision to follow the Lord.
The other high point of May is one on a personal note. Close to the end of May, our nephew, Adrian, came to Shizuoka. Over the years, we have become accustomed to having guests come to visit; however it is special treat when that guest is from home (and that guest is family). When I first left for Japan Adrian was only seven years old. I still remember how difficult it was for me to leave him. To see him grow into the man of God he is, gives me immense joy and satisfaction. Although his visit was primarily with us, Adrian was able to interact with many we serve with as well as those whom we continue to try to reach for the Lord. We really enjoyed our time with Adrian. His stay with us was very encouraging.
As mentioned above, in June the long-awaited arrival of Sisters Margaret Hatcher and Karen Loveland came to fruition. This is the third year in a row that the Nakada congregation has been able to host a team from you, our supporting congregation. In addition to being a tremendous blessing to us, Karen and Margaret are a great a source of encouragement and support. As in their previous visits, these wonderful sisters partnered with us in our attempts to grow God’s Kingdom in Japan by teaching English Bible classes. Thirty-four participants in all were able to take their classes. With God’s help and the students continued involvement, we plan to continue to reach out to those with whom they interacted and studied with while in Shizuoka.
God continues to bless us in our ministry/mission to Japan. Thank you, again for allowing them to come this far to partner with us. Please pray for our collective efforts in attempting to strengthen the church in Japan with the ultimate objective of bearing a spiritual harvest for the Lord.
With Warm Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten