It has been a long time since I have written, again. We have been very busy trying to get things done. Even after I had my heart worked on, I have not had enough energy or stamina to do many things. Keeping up with the church work has been hard. I will go in again June 15th for a few days to do another procedure, my 5th one. This time, they will put a wire into my heart to freeze some of the nerves. Please pray that this will help me move around more quickly. I am not one to sit around and do nothing. I still preach twice a month and teach 6 classes. I am still camp director and also must attend many meetings. I direct all the work at camp, it is a fun job, but very demanding. As I told you before, this is the 30th anniversary of Tomobe church and the 60th of camp. The Japanese are very big on celebrating such anniversaries.
Yasuki Nishimura started working with me at Tomobe from April. He also does tutoring several times a week to help support himself and preaches at other congregations once or twice a month. This helps him get a feel of what the other churches are like. He is doing a good job. His mother is one of the pillars of this church. She teaches the Bible in the children’s classes, does much physical labor around here and visits the sick and disabled.
A Let’s Start Talking team is coming on June 2nd, so we are preparing for that. We are printing about 4000 fliers for LST, but our machines are so old that it is difficult to keep them working. This year we have two men from Oklahoma Christian. We usually have 3 to 4, so we can only have about 30 readers this year. If we have some first-time readers that know little English, Jean and I will take some of them, maybe in small classes. Each year, several new readers stay around and take classes from us after LST ends. We have also had 3 baptisms in the past 3 years that have come from the LST program. Two are still here, but one moved to Tokyo to find work.
In Japan, there are no mass baptisms. We take them one by one. But I feel the church here in Japan is getting stronger and developing leaders. Yasuki graduated from the Japanese School of Evangelism at the Tachikawa church in Tokyo. It is a 3 year program with some of the preachers taking turns teaching the classes. Sometimes Skype is used if the teacher or student lives too far away. It has turned out several good preachers. The preachers are getting older and they developed this program to train new preachers. More new students are needed to become preachers. The number of preachers is going down rapidly. The older preachers are dying. Only about half the churches here have preachers, now. Most of them are part-time and many have little training. Missionaries have also decreased. I only know of 6 full-time missionaries in all of Japan. There are several English teachers that are also missionaries. Not many people think of Japan when planning missionary work. It is not a hospitable place for foreign religions. But that does not mean it is not a good place to work. Many people are studying Christianity, but few are giving themselves to God. Please pray for this country that it will turn to God. Islam is making inroads. We must do more to develop men and women that are dedicated to the one True God.
Serving Him in Japan, Marlin and Jean Ray