Greetings in the Name of our Lord from Shizuoka, Japan! We pray you all are enjoying the bountiful blessings in Christ.
Our summer has been busy! We continue to interact with many throughout the city of Shizuoka and surrounding Prefecture in our quest to secure prospective disciples for our Lord. We are excited about the potential of many we are working with. Much of our time during May and June involved preparing for and facilitating the efforts of this year’s Let’s Start Talking (LST) program. I am happy to report that once again, our efforts were given added dimension because of the visit of two apprentice missionaries you sent our way, Margaret Hatcher and Karen Loveland. Karen and Margaret aided our efforts tremendously. They were not only a great help to our soul winning efforts, they also were an inspiration to all the members of the Nakada congregation. During July we began several personal evangelism follow-up efforts through our SEBC classes as well as worked to strengthen the members of the Nakada congregation.
We are excited about the opportunity God blessed us with recently being able to baptize a young man into Christ. It was a special situation; I will elaborate about the joy of this occasion more in my next newsletter. Though the degree of difficulty here, due to culture, hedonistic lifestyle and pagan influences are great and at times frustrating, our evangelism efforts have been blessed. Etsuko and I are so very thankful, through the Lord and you, we have been instrumental in 44 souls being added to the Lord since beginning our mission outreach in Japan. Your assistance and support has served to advance God’s Kingdom and you have been a blessing to us and the nation of Japan. Thank you so much for gracing the lives of many in Japan!
The end of May marked the closing of our spring semester for our Shizuoka English Bible classes (SEBC). The ending of the semester allowed us to catch our breath a bit, but not for long Among several projects we pursued is the development and producing of our own Bible study curriculum. For the most part, we compose our own Bible study lessons, booklets, tracts, etc (SEBC study guides pictured). This requires a lot of time, but we find making the effort to provide something the Japanese can relate to, essential to our ability to communicate. Etsuko being Japanese, an English major graduate ofIbarakiChristianUniversity, and a devout Christian is an invaluable resource to not only me, her husband, but also to her fellow Japanese as well. Being a mother of four children and the wife of a minister/missionary, she stays busy! Etsuko helps me in developing and writing many of the handouts and teaching materials we use. As a result, we believe the Bible study guides we create go beyond just being “textbooks;” instead, they are designed with Japanese thinking in mind. Besides our SEBC classes many of our materials are used by our annual LST teams to augment their classes. In regards to LST in addition to the above, a good portion of our time and efforts went into advertising for LST.
As indicated above, at the end of May we were encouraged by and blessed with the return visit of Margaret Hatcher and Karen Loveland under the auspices of the LST program. Their arrival was much anticipated not only by us, but some of the students who had opportunity to interact with them during their visit last year. I must point out that our students were certainly not disappointed by the time Karen and Margaret spent with them. They are still talking about their experiences and Etsuko and I as well as the Maedas, are doing what we can to maximize what these two sisters in Christ contributed, most certainly for the cause of Christ.
A good number of this year’s LST students were participants who have previously participated in previous years’ LST programs or who have been a part of our Shizuoka English Bible Classes (SEBC) we offer. The remaining numbers were recruited through a variety of different means; e.g., newspaper advertisements, handouts and door to door canvassing. After printing and distributing several advertisements, we were blessed with 34 students. To say that Karen and Margaret did a wonderful job would be an understatement! Many of our readers have already begun to ask if they plan on returning for a third visit. Thank you for sending Margaret and Karen to serve with us again this summer!
The time following LST, is always a critical time for us. The months leading up to LST, are filled, as we have indicated, with much preparation; however, it is also spent evaluating and critiquing the receptivity levels and spiritual development of those we are trying to reach for Christ. This is by no means an easy task. Forming friendship with our potential converts is crucial in helping them come to the Lord; however, it becomes a challenge when you have to tell some of those whom you have formed a relationship with they will not be able to participate. Every year we must assess our situation carefully. As in almost any situation there are those who are not good soil for the Kingdom and others who can be a detriment to what you are trying to accomplish. Through Margaret and Karen’s diligent efforts and our overall combined efforts we are currently scheduled to host 27 one-on-one SEBC classes and 2 group classes each week. These classes began in July.
In addition to our evangelistic endeavors through LST and our SEBC classes, in May, June and July we continued to pursue opportunities to strengthen the body that meets at Nakada church. We do this on two fronts: First, individually through one-on-one and group Bible classes. And second, through sermons. Among the challenges that threaten the church in Japan is the average lay person and/or prospective convert are limited in the amount of time they can devote to coming to church. This is primarily because of the Japanese work ethic, concurrent with tremendous culture and family demands. A twelve hour work day is not unusual here. The resulting impact is limited spiritual education and spiritual fellowship involvement. Thus, we strive hard to make available to those with whom we interact, useful resources and in addition, we try to make our times of worship and fellowship meaningful experiences. Our Sunday morning time together, for many, remains the main source of Christian fellowship, spiritual development, and spiritual edification. With this in mind through my preaching this year I have been focusing on Christian fundamentals to reaffirm to all, who and what we are as Christians and reaffirm what benefits we all enjoy in Christ.
Please continue to pray for our efforts. A good number of our readers have confessed that they do believe in God and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior; however, getting them to come forward has been somewhat of a challenge. In some cases, parents and family are hindering their advance and in others, like the rich young ruler they are faced with counting the cost. Please pray that all who are sincere, will have the courage to not allow anything to stand in their way. Once again, thank you for your partnership in advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nation of Japan.
With Warm Regards and Love,
Ken and Etsuko Hysten