This report is being written the day before we return. The past five weeks have been filled with activity giving little time for reporting.
The main event during this reporting period is the visit of a deacon and his wife, Gordon and Patricia Corder, from the Park Avenue church of Christ in Memphis. This is our overseeing congregation and has been since 1977 when we went as a family to Japan. Through this year (2015) the Park Avenue church has supported a person in Japan since 1977.
Many of the ministers and members in Japanese congregations have visited Memphis and worshiped with the Park Avenue church. Josephine and I are grateful for the church’s continued support in letting us minister in Japan for two to three months each year. This year marks the eighteenth consecutive year to do this since our family returned to Memphis in 1986.
September 6 we worshiped with the Mito congregation in Ibaraki. This is the second largest congregation with about ninety in attendance on Sundays. They are also involved in feeding the homeless in the area each month. With a number of Assistant English Teachers for the Mito school system, the church also provides English Bible study as an outreach into the community.
On our visit this time we heard a message from a minister in training with the Mito congregation. He had a good message concerning making a positive impact on the people we meet. We are to “do good” and through that show God’s love to them as expressed by Jesus Christ. It was good to hear the message and also to see a young minister in training. This was his second sermon.
Our Ochanomizu and Tachikawa classes continued. However, the Wednesday Ochanomizu class (September 9) was canceled because of a typhoon which brought heavy rain to the area and severe destruction to an area of Ibaraki. The Tachikawa class was the second in a three part series on the Trinity as we looked at trinitarian passages in the Old Testament.
September 11 Josephine and I stopped over in Ikebukuro on our way to the airport. This is the end of the line for the train line we lived on. It is a great shopping district with some big department stores. After a brief time looking around we headed on to the Tokyo-Narita Airport to greet our visitors. Gordon and Patricia Corder arrived on time and we four quickly boarded a bus to take us to the Tachikawa church third floor dorm.
That Saturday we all traveled to Tomobe for an afternoon meeting. This was an outreach to the students in the School of Life as well as visitors to assemblies. There were twenty in attendance with five non-Christians. My lesson was based upon the book by Antony Flew There Is a God which chronicles his journey from atheism to theism. The church had requested something on the Bible and science. I felt this lesson which I gave three years before might be good especially since I did not have time to work up a new lesson. Marlin Ray, missionary with the Tomobe church, was unable to attend. He was hospitalized with pneumonia. As I write this report he has been discharged and is making slow recovery. The Corders were able to visit him in the hospital.
Sunday worship at Tomobe went well. The lesson I presented was from John 8 concerning the woman caught in adultery. It is important whether we choose to leave Jesus as the Pharisees did or remain with Jesus as the woman did. Remaining with him brings forgiveness and encouragement to be faithful to his will.
Following our visit to Tomobe our guests and we went to Hakone to do a little history study about the Edo period as well as enjoyed time away from the city of Tokyo. Hakone is a former volcano and there is still volcanic activity in the area. Part of the area we normally visit was off limits due to the danger of eruption.
Wednesday of their visit was a quick tour of the city of Tokyo with a metropolitan area population of over thirty million. The Tokyo-Edo Museum is a great place to see the history of Edo/Tokyo from its early days as a castle town at the end of the Warring States Period (c. 1467-c.1603) to the present day.
That evening we worshiped with the Ochanomizu congregation. I completed the second lesson on the “Father, Son, Spirit and the Christian” showing how the Trinity is involved in the Christian’s life. Our guests shared a report on their medical mission work in Belize and Guatemala. That was an encouragement to those who were at the meeting.
Thursday our guests again presented a report on their medical mission work. There was a number of questions about their work. That time together was followed by a wonderful meal and fellowship. Friday was a rainy day which gave us time to rest a bit. Saturday we had lunch with Masa and Mari Nonogaki to hear about their work. Our guests were close to the Nonogakis when they attended the Park Avenue church while in school at Harding School of Evangelism.
That evening we had a wonderful treat. We journeyed to the home of one of the Ochanomizu elders for a home Bible study and fellowship. It was a blessed time with twenty Christians studying the Bible and worshiping together.
Sunday we worshiped with the Ochanomizu congregation. I spoke in English and Japanese as it was a joint worship with the English speakers and Japanese. That period of worship was followed by a time of table fellowship. Josephine spoke that afternoon to the ladies. Her topic was “Changing Saul to Paul” discussing Saul’s three days of blindness before his conversion.
We returned to Tachikawa that evening for our guests to do their final packing. We put them on a bus Monday morning for their return trip to Memphis.