Grace and peace to each of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We’re happy to be able to share an update from the work here in Japan with you today.
August has been a rather quiet month, but it’s also been an important month in setting the stage for what’s ahead.
Most importantly, we are happy to say that both Leslie and Sara are now fully vaccinated (notwithstanding a potential booster next year). Sara received her second shot on Tuesday, 8/24, and Leslie received his yesterday as of this writing, Thursday, 8/26. We are so grateful for those who prayed for our well-being in getting the vaccine. Sara had only one day of feeling rather tired and having a headache. The next day she was basically fine. Leslie is currently experiencing very similar side effects – some fatigue and a very mild headache. Lord willing, he will wake up tomorrow feeling one hundred percent again.
Now that we have completed our vaccination process, there will be some doors opened that have been closed. Some friends will likely feel a little more comfortable attending worship services with all the adults having been vaccinated. It will be easier to gather together in our home both with non-Christians and other Christians from Matsudo and around Tokyo. Since coming to Japan at the end of November, we have only seen three other Christians who do not live in Matsudo. Two of those we only saw for a few minutes outside of our house when we arrived, and the third only at worship. Now that we are vaccinated, we believe we will be able to change that.
That’s not to say everything will change immediately. We will likely still be wearing masks for some time. Over the last several weeks, Japan has seen record cases and deaths. We are still under a state of emergency that continues to be expanded into other prefectures. The medical system is overloaded. Recently, there are many who have been turned away from hospital after hospital, sadly with deadly results at times. So the situation is serious, at least in our area.
Sara after getting her first shot, and Madeleine being … herself! 🙂
However, being vaccinated should allow us to begin taking steps forward, and – praise God! – we’ve already begun to see some moves in the right direction.
Perhaps most importantly, this past Sunday we had a church meeting and discussed making a small but significant change to our time together on Sunday mornings. Starting in September, immediately following our worship services, we will begin doing Discovery Bible Studies together as a church. Discovery Bible Study (DBS for short) is a simple method of studying the Bible in a small group with the aim of helping people internalize the teaching of scripture. DBS focuses less on learning information and more on obedient discipleship, encouraging not only personal application but also sharing with others. It is a method used by a number of congregations and missionaries. Perhaps one of the best resources for learning about it is from the North Blvd Church of Christ.
Of course, learning information is still very important! This is why our DBS time will coincide with our upcoming sermon series on the Sermon On The Mount. Leslie has been studying and preparing for this series and the associated study since the spring. During worship, we will do our normal activities, including the sermon, where Leslie will teach on the day’s scripture reading. Then, during the DBS time, we will discuss together how the passage applies to our daily lives and challenge each other to live in light of that in the coming week, seeking opportunities to share that light with others.
We are very excited about this upcoming addition to our time together and would request your prayers for an easy adaptation. Japanese people tend to be very reserved. There will definitely be cultural challenges, and we will need the Lord’s blessing for this to be successful (as with anything). But we believe it will be fruitful if we press through, as it allows the members to be transformed into the image of Christ, grow closer to each other, and be better equipped to share their faith through their daily relationships. We are grateful that we are all now vaccinated, as this brings a bit more comfort to the members in staying around after worship to discuss God’s word together.
Our kids spending time with some of the neighborhood’s kids at our local park. The boy in the blue shirt next to Madeleine speaks fluent English, and his family is one of a few we are notably optimistic about.
We are so excited about what is in store at the Matsudo church, and by God’s grace we will see much fruit over the coming months and years. We don’t know what lies ahead with the pandemic or anything else, but we know he is working in all situations to bring more people into his kingdom, and we are so thankful to get to participate in that work.
As we plan for the future work with the church, we have continued building relationships in our community which we pray (how we pray!) will lead to hearts being drawn into God’s kingdom.
Perhaps one of the most important ministries we have here continues to be worked out through our kids. With summer break ongoing and the weather often sizzling, we have had neighborhood kids over to our house almost every day of the week, usually for several hours at a time. Sara has even prepared dinner at times for the kids, and encouraged parents to let the kids stay over and take a break. We don’t know when we will see it, but we are confident God is preparing fruit through these relationships.
Additionally, all of our kids have recently begun tennis classes at a nearby tennis school, and Leslie has joined as well. This has already given us the opportunity to invite one new friend to worship, and to make connections with multiple others who, prior to meeting our family, did not know the Matsudo church exists. We believe the more we get involved in our community, the more fruit we can bear for Christ. It’s been amazing to see how God has guided us to people as we do this.
We still have several plans down the road that we are waiting for the right timing to begin. We are still eager to begin a children’s ministry through the church, as well as restarting the parenting group. Please be praying that Japan’s covid numbers and vaccinations improve, so we can begin these ministries sooner rather than later.
Cambria in one of her tennis classes. She was a little nervous at first, but seems to really be enjoying it more and more, as do all the kids.
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:
- That our upcoming series on The Sermon On The Mount will be fruitful for the church and any visitors
- That our first DBS studies will go smoothly and be received well by everyone; that we will have good engagement and powerful encouragement
- That Japan’s vaccination process will continue smoothly and quickly, so the church can return to its full pursuit of making disciples in this community
- That our children would continue to become comfortable in Japanese and their daily life here
- That Sara and Leslie will have wisdom in how we pursue relationships and discipling in this community
- That the borders will open soon so others (and ourselves as well) can go and come freely
- Some specific names you can pray for: Kobayashi family, Mr. Gotou, Fujita family, Saeki family, tennis coaches/staff/new friends