Grace and peace to each of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! We pray this newsletter finds you blessed and fruitful in the Lord. We are so grateful for each of you who take the time to read this newsletter and all who pray for us and our work here in Japan.
This has been a very eventful month in a lot of ways, and we’re excited to share with you the various things we have been involved with recently.
As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, the state of emergency in Japan has finally come to an end, and case numbers have plummeted over the last several weeks. In our town of Matsudo, there have been repeated days with zero new cases, and even Tokyo has been in the 20s and 30s. This has allowed people to be more comfortable getting together and opened the door to planning for some big activities over the coming weeks and months.
We’ll talk more about those plans in a minute, but first, we are excited (and a bit amazed) to share that we officially have a teenager in the family! Cambria turned 13 this month, and we’re very glad the state of emergency ended in time for that, as it allowed us to get together with friends and celebrate her birthday as a family with a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome. It’s bittersweet of course to see her growing up, but what a blessing to watch all the ways she is growing and learning. She’ll actually be helping us out with some events in the future, and it’s so wonderful to have an extra helping hand who we can trust.
Along with being able to celebrate Cambria’s birthday more freely, we’ve also been able together with a number of people. We’ve had the Kobayashi family over several times this month, and were finally able to get together with our longtime friends, the Kawakami family. We are so grateful for these friendships. Every time we get together we can’t help but think of how much we long to see these people we love become followers of Jesus. As much as possible we try to plant kingdom seeds in these times together, talking about how God blesses and shapes our lives. We pray that God will give an increase that leads to saving faith and obedient discipleship. We would ask that you be praying for these two families especially as well.
In addition to interpersonal relationships, the “re-opening” of society has also allowed us to start planning for some big events over the coming months. First and foremost, starting on November 14, we will be launching a kids English Bible class on Sunday mornings. Especially because we know so many children who speak English in our community or who have an interest in English, we think this could be a great opportunity. This project is especially on Sara’s shoulders, with the other ladies of the congregation helping out a lot. Please be praying for this event as we launch. We would love to see it become something meaningful to the community, but as with all plans, the blessing must come from God’s hands.
In addition to the kids English Bible class, we’re also beginning to make plans for Christmas events. Specifically, we are hoping to have a true Christmas-week Sunday event this year. In the past, this has been our most well-attended worship service, and we would love to see that happen again. This will require virus numbers to stay low, so please be praying that they will. The theme for this year’s series will be on the joy Jesus brings, and why it is that his birth was met with joy. Especially after several years of a pandemic, joy is something everyone needs. Please be praying that God will be putting it on the hearts of people to come and hear these messages and that it will become a catalyst for gospel-centered discipleship. We don’t just want to see good attendance – we want to see that attendance leading to people who follow Jesus. Your prayers specifically for that would be greatly appreciated.
If things go well into the winter, we are hoping to start our English worship service early next year. It really depends on the virus situation though, as we don’t want to get stuck in a stop-and-start cycle that discourages continued attendance. So again we would appreciate prayers that Japan’s numbers will remain low.
We sometimes get discouraged with how much of a barrier the virus presents us here, but it is neither our right nor of any benefit to complaining. We entrust the timing to the Lord. We intended to come to Japan in March of 2019. Instead, it was almost December and that was after months of not being sure we would be able to go at all. But God used that timing to put us in this perfect location – better than anything we asked for or imagined! Will he not use the timing now to produce further fruit? We believe he will.
On the plus side of numbers being low at the moment, we were able to participate in a fun community event in our neighborhood on Halloween day. Although Halloween was virtually unknown in Japan just a decade or two ago, it has become a somewhat big event here, so the neighborhood decided to have a fun event for the kids. We dressed up, gave out candy, and were able to pass out some fliers for the upcoming kids English Bible class. This wasn’t a church event, but any event we participate in is an opportunity to be salt and light, and we’re thankful for each one the Lord provides.
We do have one final bit of news that is very sad to share. Our dear brother Yukusue passed away this weekend. We will deeply miss his voice and presence at Matsudo, but we rejoice with him in that he is now dwelling surrounded in the presence of the Lord awaiting his glorious resurrection. What is a loss for us is a gain for him, and there is yet more to come. The church is going to try to reach out to his daughter to offer comfort and love. Please pray for us and for her and any other family members, that even in his death, Brother Yukusue may plant seeds of faith through the church in which we so faithfully participated for the final years of his life.
Thank you, as always, for each one of you who prays for our family and our work. We are so grateful for your prayers! As you remember our work in prayer, here are some things we would love for you to remember:
- Prayers of thanks for all that God has given us – our house, our community, a loving church with people willing to work, etc.
- Our upcoming maiden Kid’s English Bible Class on November 14th.
- Our planning and preparation for the Christmas series and related events
- That God will connect us with those seeking and open hearts of those around us already
- That God will grant us wisdom of when to say things and what to say
- That God will help numbers remain low so things can remain open
- That our DBS (Discovery Bible Study) sessions will continue to go smoothly and be fruitful for the church
- That God will help Japan to open its borders soon
- Some specific names you can pray for: Kawakami family, Kobayashi family, Mr. Gotou, Fujita family, Saeki family, tennis coaches/staff/new friends