"For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 2 Cor. 2:15
Japan is very different from the US, especially California in many ways, but one of the most pronounced in my mind, is that we have real seasons. Everything follows the changes in weather. There are different foods, social gatherings, manners of dress, sounds and smells. Because of the hot humid weather in summer, there are many different insects and especially mosquitoes. Japanese use special insect repelling incense to repel these pests, its smell wafting through the streets and byways.
We as Christians, bring a new flavor to the area as we live here. It is no secret that we are Christians and serve here in our community. In a place where the Spiritual darkness is so strong, that we battle its oppression daily, our Christ fragrance wards off the pestilence of vain religion in all seasons.
We have just finished our seventh year of ministry in Japan and I know that God has been diffusing the fragrance of Christ through us in ways that we can see and in ways that we may not know until we see Him at last in heaven. This last year has brought a lot of change both in our ministry and in our own lives. Things have settled a bit more toward "normal" since the earthquake and tsunami and we are looking forward to what God wants to do in us and through us as we press in to the next season.
Some ministry highlights from this year:
Belinda was able to be a part of the Operation Safe team in Ishinomaki in March and training seminars in Hitachi in July. What a blessing! This ministry continues to be for children and adults alike, who have been affected by the tsunami. (We posted an article about this before. See it again here:)
Holy Week is filled with remberances of Christ's ministry and love.
Easter Service in the park was a blessing as we worshiped God together and local people looked on and heard the message from Pastor Jonathan.
After a picnic lunch, the children playing in the park were invited to join in the Easter egg hunt, which is always a fun time for all.
(To see the video of the hunt, click here!)
One of our biggest outreaches at Grace Christian Fellowship is VBS. This July 60 children attended and several of them prayed to receive salvation. Some have even returned to attend Sunday school with us.
At the end of August we had our annual Yukata Party, which happened to fall on Belinda's birthday, so it was a double blessing for her.
For 6 weeks this summer, John had the blessing of giving the Sunday message at a church in Machida (near Yokohama) as the pastor was away in the U.S. He was thoroughly blessed and encouraged by the body of believers there.
And finally, Grace Christian International School has entered into it's 9th year here in Ome! God has blessed us with a great team of teachers, including two new ones, and awesome students, also including two new ones.
What a blessing to know that God has prepared these works for us beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
• John had the blessing of teaching the Word and making new connections with the church in Machida this summer
• God is healing Belinda's brother's facial injuries after his having been attacked. He suffered multiple fractures and underwent 7 hours of surgery to reconstruct the bones in his face.
• God is opening the doors for new ministry opportunities.
• Women's Saturday fellowship continues to grow and to be a blessing for the ladies at Grace.
• Continue to pray for Belinda's brother. He is seeing double and may need more surgery to repair his vision.
• Pray for us to continue strong in the ministries God has given us, and not to grow weary in them.
• Pray for God's provision as we desire to visit our families and friends in the U.S. at the end of this year and to attend the missions conference, which is always a great encouragement for us.
• Pray for Belinda's friend Dana who has terminal cancer and does not know or desire to know God who loves her.
• Pray that we would stay with God's timing as we look to transition into new ministry opportunities.
• Pray for the ongoing work of CRASH and Operation Safe and for those who are still suffering the effects of the earthquake/tsunami disaster.