eNews – April 25, 2009

Japanese_Shijo_Lantern

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

In talking to people I know back in the US, and even here in Japan, there are many who are expressing what is sometimes called “FUD”, or fear, uncertainty and doubt.

We recently attended the Calvary Chapel Japan conference and celebrated Holy week.  Winter is giving way to Spring in earnest.  The weather is warming up.  “Sakura” or Cherry Blossom season is at its crest.  Birds are chirping outside now as they have done for thousand’s of years as God’s design expresses His majesty throughout His creation.  Seasons come and go, but God remains the same through it all.

God is saying to me, “How can you so easily accept these annual events with so little doubt that I am here and in control, yet let this season of history concern you so?  I gave you the book and you not only know the ending, I have revealed to you the events leading up to the climax of the story.  You are doing what I told you to do.  Now, just keep the main thing, the main thing.  Tell them about me.  Anything else is ‘extra’.”

I am reminded that all these seasons, events, and traditions are important, even wonderful.  They are provided as tools to encourage, remember, and express God’s love for us. His desire is still to reach hearts so in need of Him.  For all of us as Christians, Jesus is the focus.

Seasons:

One of the things we love about Japan, even though it is very challenging at times, is that we have “real” seasons here.  In California we had them, but they tended to feel like two instead of four.  One of the favorite times of year in Japan is “Sakura” or Cherry Blossoms.  After a long winter the plants, as well as the people, really seem to come alive here.   

CC Japan conference:

The annual Calvary Chapel conference in Japan is so meaningful to us.  We feel our “roots” are so very Calvary Chapel.  It’s sometimes easy to feel a bit disconnected from our lives in the states.  Worship styles, ministry styles and just basic fellowship here all have a Japanese flavor to them.  Don’t get us wrong.  It’s not a bad thing; it’s just different.  This conference is like a fresh recharge of our spirits where we can reunite with friends from across Japan as well as from the states.  The quality of ministry at this conference is just so wonderful.

GCIS Field Trip 

Most of you know a big part of our ministry here takes place in the Grace Christian International School.  To be honest, being teachers didn’t really fit the mental image we had of ministry in Japan.  Now, however, after seeing so much fruit in these precious children and the way God is working in the parents of these precious souls, we have real joy in pouring into their lives. The Truth of God’s Word is part of everything we do.  They take the Gospel home to their parents, sharing the lessons they have learned.  God is using these little evangelists so wonderfully to reach out to the community.

With all the Sakura blossoms bursting out all over and spring in the air, it is a perfect time to have a much needed field trip.  About 40 minutes by train from here is the beautiful Showa Koen (park).  It used to be a US military base but was given back to the Japanese.  This wonderful expanse is filled with beautiful gardens of flowers and opportunities to enjoy the open spaces.

Foot washing: 

This service is a favorite tradition here at Grace Christian Fellowship.  Following Jesus’ example, we have an extended time of worship, communion, ministry, and prayer.  There are many traditions we can enjoy as Christians and we feel this is one of the best.

Good Friday 

Holy Week is so important in the Christian life.  The world often looks at a diluted form of a Christmas tradition as the focal point of the year.  I was born on Christmas Day, actually, but I know that Jesus was not.  I feel mixed emotions during that time of year.

Holy Week and Easter represent a relationship with Christ different from any other faith.  Yes, on Good Friday we observe Christ’s death on the cross.  We are humbled by His willingness to take on our sin and provide, for those who will accept it, the salvation from the death that sin delivers.  On this night, we commemorate His sacrifice by reading through the account of Christ’s death on Calvary. We blow out one of seven candles as each scripture passage is read.   As the last candle is put out the church is dark.  The church doors are closed, representing the closed tomb of Jesus Christ, until the joy of Easter arrives and we can celebrate the resurrection of our risen Lord. 

Easter Sunday 

This year we celebrated Easter at a park, Wakakusa Koen, just a few blocks from the church.  The Lord provided beautiful weather.  The park was still adorned with God’s glory expressed in the Sakura and plum blossoms.  Did you know that Oume (or Ome), the city we live in, means “Plum”? 

With worship music filling the air and families all spread out on their blankets around the area we occupied, we were so blessed to see many new faces as people joined us.  The Gospel was shared beautifully in a simple message of God’s power and Grace.  An invitation was given and many raised their hands to receive Christ.

One interesting thing that happened was that an older lady came to our area to complain about the volume of the music.  After talking to her a few minutes, she told us that she was Catholic.  We explained that we were celebrating Easter.  She was surprised, “Oh, today is Easter!? Oh, well then we need to celebrate!”  Her whole countenance and demeanor changed.  She joined in with the church family for the rest of the day.


Praise:

  • For Easter in the park where many were able to hear the gospel and receive Christ.
  • Grace Christian International School children who are learning more about God and His love for them everyday.
  • For God’s continued provision during economic trials.

 

Prayer:

  • For God’s provision of new teacher interns and new students for the next school year.
  • For new missionaries to come as we have 2 missionary families returning to the states.
  • For continued language learning.

If you are interested in any current needs, we are in the process of updating them on our website:  “Praying For”