Albright Japan Trip ’14 – Rpt 4
With only three more Sundays remaining for this trip, the pace of the travel picks up. The past three weeks have been very exciting. The three lessons for the Japan School of Evangelism went very well. These are recorded and the DVD’s made available for use in churches.
The first lesson was entitled “Baptism: A Birth from Above.” In that class I surveyed twelve passages in the New Testament dealing with baptism as the believer’s birth into God’s family. The second lesson was entitled “Praise: The Fruit of Lips Praising God.” Here we surveyed the history of praise from the time of David through the New Testament, a change from a worship centered in physical actions and performances to one centered on the Spirit. The final lesson was “God’s Very Great and Precious Promises.” Here we learned principles about God’s promises from Paul’s voyage to Rome and then looked at seven specific promises God has given his children. That class lasted two hours. That’s a lot of Japanese.
In addition to these classes for JSE, we journeyed to Ochanomizu on Wednesday evenings to share the lesson on God’s promises with that congregation over four evenings. This coming Wednesday evening, September 24, will be our last meeting with that congregation on this trip.
On September 7 we met with the Matsudo church where Steve and Debbie Carrell minister. Leslie and Sara Taylor also work with the congregation while Leslie completes language study. Following the morning sermon we had a tea time and fellowship period. This was followed by a class.
That afternoon we visited Debbie who was hospitalized the week before we came for a recurrence of cancer. We were able to have fellowship around the Lord’s Table as we remembered God’s love shown through his Son. She has since improved enough to continue her chemotherapy as an out patient. Jim Chen, a graduate student now living in Sendai with his wife, came down to visit for the weekend. He accompanied us to Matsudo.
The next day, Monday September 8, we traveled to Yokohama for the monthly ministers’ meeting for ministers from Tokyo west. This was hosted by the Nogeyama church which was started by E. A. Rhodes following World War II. They also have a kindergarten.
On September 14 we visited the Shirosato congregation for the first time. This is a church plant by Jim and Noriko Holmes who moved into the area several years ago. It is located west of Mito about thirty minutes by car. Fourteen gathered to worship followed by a time of table fellowship. It was a beautiful Sunday and it felt good to get out of Tokyo for a bit. Jim and Noriko have an English school on one side of the building they use for their school and the church meets on the other side.
The big event during this time was the visit of Dr. Jack P. Lewis (95), one of my former professors at Harding School of Theology, and his son, Jerry. They arrived Friday evening, September 12, though their luggage did not arrive until the next day. Dr. Lewis is honorary dean of JSE and has been a great encourager for the school.
He spoke Sunday morning for the Tachikawa congregation with Nao Fukushima translating. Monday, September 15, was the twenty-fifth anniversary lectureship for JSE. He spoke twice for that meeting with Nao Fukushima and Masa Nonogaki translating the morning and afternoon lessons.
Following the lectureship the teachers met for an overnight retreat to discuss curriculum and other matters. Dr. Lewis spoke to the teachers the next day with Tadayoshi Aikawa translating.
Wednesday before the Ochanomizu class Nao Fukushima took us and the Lewises to see Sky Tree and Asakasa in downtown Tokyo. This was about the only time they had to do touristy things. It was our first time to see Sky Tree up close. They left Japan the next day, September 18, and had a safe trip back to Memphis and Boston.
On the third Sunday of each month the Ochanomizu church has a joint worship with English and Japanese speaking members. For the last several years we have attended at this time so that Dwight could speak. The Ochanomizu congregation was our Japan sponsoring congregation when we came in 1977. Following the worship they always have a pot-luck fellowship meal.
For the past several years our visit with the Ochanomizu church has been the occasion for seeing several of Josephine’s former “Friend-to-Friend” students. These are ladies Josephine studied English Bible with while their husbands were in Memphis with a company or doing medical research. Some of the friendships have lasted for over fifteen years.
Josephine had a ladies’ class after the meal. She was asked to prepare a lesson on “Evangelism and Feelings.” The church’s theme for this year is on evangelism with 2 Timothy 4:2 as their theme verse. Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
Earlier in the summer we hosted some Ochanomizu members on their visit to Memphis. As a thank you, they invited us to supper following all the Sunday’s activities at Ochanomizu. We were escorted to the twenty-first floor of a local building to a Chinese restaurant for a wonderful meal and great view of the city of Tokyo. As we ate night fell and the city lit up. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with two wonderful Christian families.
Three more weeks to go until we begin to pack up and break up “housekeeping” here in the dorm. But there are eight lessons to give during that time, several people to see, and many places to go. Thanks again for your encouragement and prayers.