Taylor Report – March 31, 2022

Grace and peace to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! We hope this newsletter finds you all well and growing in Christ, wherever you are.
Spring has sprung here in Japan – at least in the Tokyo area. It’s a beautiful time here and we’re grateful for the signs of new life that God gives us at this time of year, especially through his creation.

As the days have become warmer and people are getting outside more, the virus numbers have decreased enough that Japan has finally released society from what is called the “manbou” – the various measures intended to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. In fact, during a recent speech, the prime minister mentioned the need to move toward normal life again, which is the first time anyone in the government has spoken about that, as far as we are aware, so we hope it is a good sign for the rest of the year.

This is especially important for us as we plan for upcoming Easter events. With the measures lifted, we can invite friends and neighbors more easily. This year we’ll be doing our normal Easter worship, using the opportunity to share about the resurrection of Jesus and all that means. Afterward, we’re hosting an event for families and children and planning to hold an Easter egg hunt at the park across the street from the church building.

Cherry blossoms blooming in Matsudo

We’ve already invited several people and will be posting information about the day online, so we’d request your prayers that anyone whose heart may be open to the gospel would attend. The opportunity to talk specifically about the resurrection to our community is such a gift, and we want to use it wisely and for it to be fruitful.

While Easter is a big deal for us here and a big opportunity, God is working in other ways and we have seen that recently at Matsudo. Two Sundays ago, two older women – Mrs. Aoki and Mrs. Yamaya – showed up to worship. Apparently, they were on their way back from visiting the local shrine down the street and saw our building and decided, “Why not stop in and see what it’s about?”

Mrs. Yamaya had probably never been to worship before at all, nor heard a Christian prayer or anything of that nature. Mrs. Aoki had attended a Christian school of some kind when she was young, so she had some exposure to Christianity. It is that seed planted many years ago that pulled her to want to visit.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Yamaya did not return the next Sunday, but Mrs. Aoki did and we are so grateful for that blessing. We ask that you would please remember her in your prayers. In fact, we would ask that you stop and say a prayer for her right now – that God would continue to pull on her heart and press her to continue attending and hearing the message of the Kingdom, and to respond to that call in faith.

Madeleine, Cambria, and Boston beneath cherry blossoms at the Sumida River in Tokyo

A couple of days ago, one of our neighbors in our community invited us out for sushi at a local restaurant and then wanted to take us to see some nighttime cherry blossoms in Tokyo. This neighbor – Mr. Gotou (pronounced: Go-toh) – is a widower, and keeps pretty busy with various projects at an apartment complex he owns next to his home, but he does seem to be a bit lonely. We’re happy to get to spend time with him and share Christian love as best as we can.

Boston with various kinds of fresh sushi

These times can be challenging in some ways. For example, when he orders baby squid for Sara and the kids to eat! But also, some of his topics of discussion can be difficult to manage, both because of his opinions and because of the language barrier. But we are grateful for these opportunities and this relationship. Please be praying for Mr. Gotou, that somehow the relationship we are building will prove spiritually fruitful, and for us, that we will live the kind of lives that show him the light of Jesus.

We’re hopeful as we continue to move into the year. We’re hopeful because we continue to see God working in this community. We’re hopeful because it seems Japan may slowly be taking steps to open up again. We’re hopeful most of all because Jesus is risen from the dead!

We pray that this same hope will fill your hearts and strengthen you and give you peace as you continue to walk as disciples of Jesus in your own communities.

As you remember our work in prayer throughout 2022, here are some things we would love for you to remember:

  • Prayers for upcoming Easter events
  • Prayers of gratitude for Matthieu’s baptism, and prayers for continued growth
  • Prayers for continued success and fruitfulness with the Kids’ English Bible Class
  • Prayers for Sara as she works with our friends’ new English school
  • That God will continue to work at Matsudo regardless of the COVID situation
  • That God will allow the pandemic to come to an end soon so things can open and get back to some kind of normalcy
  • Some specific names you can pray for: Mrs. Aoki, Mrs. Yamaya, Matthieu, Mariko, Tomoko, Kawakami family, Kobayashi family, Mr. Gotou, Fujita family, Ebata family, friends of our children, coaches and staff at tennis