eNews – November 2013

aloe-cactus-1For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
                                                                   Jeremiah 29:11–13
You may be asking; “What’s with the picture of the Aloe Cactus?”I was talking with Pastor Troy the other day, about our time here in Japan, and how this year, more than ever, feels like we hit the ground running right after the missions conference, only to look at the calendar and think; “Oh my! It’s November…”.

The plant in the picture was about the size of one of its tiniest parts, when we moved here. That little cactus has honestly been through some of the worst treatment any plant may have ever endured. Many times it looked brown, and possibly dead due to our very “brown thumbs”.

Look at it now! We have learned that principle; “Grow where you are planted”. Now, looking back over the last 8 years, I believe our ministry may have even outgrown our little pot. We have been praying for the last couple years, “What is next Lord?” For now, we continue to grow where we are planted.

Dear Friends,

We are happy to tell you that God’s work is continuing steadily in our little part of Japan. We apologize for not keeping you up to date, and for stuffing a lot into one newsletter to catch you up on our work here.  Pictures are worth a thousand words so don’t miss them 🙂

Highlights:
The school year finished in June and we held a four-week summer school course for kids who needed the extra English help.

Then, all focus was on preparing for Vacation Bible School. We had a good VBS turn out. We were especially blessed that the youth in the church, who in previous years attended VBS, worked as crew leaders and helpers this year.

John: Worship, teaching and IT:
Working with CRASH and church websites to keep them up and running smoothly, is from time to time is called upon to teach on a Sunday morning either here at our home church or for the Machida church services. The worship ministry is really going well. New leaders are being raised up and John has been able to pass many of the leading responsibilities.

Belinda: A teaching powerhouse:
Belinda continues to teach an English Bible class once a month. She and another Japanese believer here are leading a women’s discipleship class.

There are many here needing and greatly desiring to grow in their relationship and knowledge of Jesus. Please pray for us to have wisdom as we prepare.

God has also opened up an opportunity for her to meet once a week with Miwa, a Starbucks barista, for whom she has been praying.

Other Events during the year: (Highlights in pictures)

VBS:
John worked very diligently on recording all the VBS songs in Japanese (live recording project), as well as recording live voice overs for the VBS animated video. It was a lot of work, but everything came out great and all the children were able to hear about Jesus through songs and videos in Japanese. The materials were shared with other churches in Japan for their VBSs.

We barely have just a short break before we plunge back into teaching. John still teaches English twice a week at a “cram” school. Belinda continues to oversee the GCIS International school operations. Starting this year, GCIS is partnering with Calvary Online school, so our Junior high and high school students are taking their core classes online.

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Love Feast: (Held every month – This was around Easter)
So much one-on-one ministry happens over a meal.  Body life and fellowship are vital.

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Matsuri: (Summer Festival)
Summer festivals are very popular in Japan.  We open our church to the local community, providing a Christ centered option to other Budhist and Shinto parties.  These are more children centered as well.

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Harvest Festival: (Precedes Thanks Giving)
How do you demonstrate to the Japanese the concept of “Thanksgiving” and why we give thanks?  A harvest party country style of course!

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Pastor’s Retreat: (Annual CC Japan Pastor’s Retreat)
It is our heart’s desire to connect and fellowship with other CCs and like minded fellowships.  We hold a conference for that every year.  This retreat though is for Pastors and Missionaries to take a break from ministry to the churches and pour into each other.  It takes place in rustic cabins out in the mountains.

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Children’s Blessing: (This is our answer to the Budhist tradition)
Budhists have this tradtition and many of the body of Christ here need to know that we can bless our children in the name of Jesus.

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Ome Festival: (International City festival – Theme this year was “USA”)
This is a two day festival that involves the whole city.  Our area is the “International” area.  Several local churches participate with us in this event.  The clowns: “Hope”, “Joy” and “Love” stamp the scripture cards for the children after they read each verse.  Then they can go have a face painting or do a craft free at our booth.

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Baptisms: (Usually in summer – the water is COLD!)
We baptize several each summer in the river.  It’s public so that other non-Christians along the river can obseve. We have had several Pilipino families attending this year.  These two children are from one of those families.

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Still growing:
We have stayed the course God has put us on. We have prospered where we were planted. Our days and lives feel a lot like that little cactus plant. We are praying as we feel we have overgrown our little pot, and that God may have something very new in our future. Historically, God has moved slowly, yet abundantly in our walk with Him.

So, God has been doing great things and continues to work here in Ome.

Praise!:

  • God has given us a busy but productive year
  • He has provided so faithfully
  • GCIS School is doing better than ever
  • Worship ministry has grown in maturity and excellence (He is worthy of our best!)
  • He has protected us

Prayer:

  • We desire to come in late January to see our second grandchild born
  • God would give us wisdom, guidance and direction for the next year
    • Ministry here
    • Possible ministry elsewhere
  • He would continue to cover our minds and hearts in a spiritually needy place
  • That John could lose weight (Type 2 dibetic)
  • That He would continue to cover and protect our children living in the US

A Special Note: Our GCIS students will be traveling to Los Angeles early in December to be part of a Children’s DVD production.  They will be performing Japanese worship songs with dance motions for a DVD, which will be distributed throughout Japan.  Right now in Japan, Christian children’s ministries are very rare, and a majority of churches do not have any kind of children’s Sunday school or youth programs at all.   Please pray for this DVD to have an impact in bringing the gospel and love of God to Japanese children.