Another two weeks have passed. The big event during this time was the Ochanomizu church’s Hakone Bible Camp. The word “camp” is probably a misnomer as it is held in a very nice hotel near Hakone with excellent meals.
The theme for the camp as well as for the year is unity taken from Ephesians 4. I was one of three main speakers and thankfully I spoke first from Ephesians 4. My title was “Traveling Together.” The flow of Ephesians leading up to the admonition of walking worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1) and doing what is necessary to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) begins with Paul’s statement in chapter one about receiving the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). In chapters two and three Paul adds that this makes us God’s family (Ephesians 2:19-20) and through that family (the church) God’s wisdom is manifest (Ephesians 3:10-11). Therefore, Christians are to walk worthy of their calling and endeavor to maintain the unity of that family. I modified the lesson and used it as a sermon the next Sunday at the Tachikawa church at the minister’s request.
The Hakone Bible Camp is an opportunity to get out of town and enjoy time with the Ochanomizu church family. This was the first time at this camp for about one-third of the participants. From young families to older members, it was a great time of fellowship. One-third of the regular Sunday morning attendance were at camp. This left the remainder to worship together in Tokyo. We missed several regular attenders due to health and scheduling issues.
One highlight of the camp is worshiping with the Numazu congregation in Shizuoka Prefecture. This congregation was begun after WWII by Sarah Andrews. Brother Shinozaki is their full time minister and their Sunday morning attendance is about twenty to twenty-five. They had just finished a Let’s Start Talking effort with a group from Pepperdine University. About eight years ago this small congregation built a new meeting place next to the multipurpose house Sarah Andrews lived in until her death in 1961. It is truly a blessing to see two church families worship together.
Josephine continues to meet with three ladies on Thursday afternoons. They are studying John, but many questions are asked about other things on the minds of these ladies. These are marathon study periods lasting up to two hours for each lady. We sow in hope.
At the end of last week, she received her topic for the ladies’ class at Ochanomizu later in September. She has been preparing that lesson for translation. She writes the lesson and has it translated and printed for the ladies. This is given to those in the class which prompts discussion when she teaches. Josephine works through a translator, but knows enough about Japanese culture and Japanese to adapt what she teaches to those in the class. She had a compliment and eager expectation for her class while at camp.
Most of the time in between these events are filled with study. I’m sharing three lessons for the Japan School of Evangelism on the topic of the Trinity. Most of these lessons have been written in English so most of my time is spent preparing presentation slides in Japanese, having them checked for errors, and working up vocabulary. Language study never ends. Language is an amazing thing and most of us have trouble mastering one. Thankfully I have some very good brothers who check my Japanese and help pick out the right words.
Additionally there are new assignments for our meeting with the Tomobe church later in September. I’m still waiting to hear from the group in Hachinohe as to what they would like to study. Then there is another lesson for the Shizuoka retreat the Monday before we return to Memphis. All of these are great opportunities to get into the Word and study Japanese at the same time.
Weather wise we have been blessed with cooler temps. But these have come with overcast skies and off and on rain making everything damp and susceptible to mold. So far we have not been affected by any typhoons.
Thanks again for your encouragement and support in this effort. — Dwight