“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Th 1:2–3
Wow! Look at that pic of us from when we first went out as missionaries! It’s hard to believe sometimes that we have been here serving in Japan for
13 years as of this summer. As the seasons pass, we see the fruits of taking a long view of ministry. Many people who found Christ here are now serving in the church. Our video when we first were sent out
Summer is one of the most active times of year for ministry. Work-aholic schedules
relax just a little. Japanese have more than just Sundays to spend some more family time.
One of the ministry models that has proven so effective has been the “VBS” one. Not only has this reached our community effectively, but through “Operation Safe”, a vision of Pastor Jonathan, this style of curriculum has been packaged in such a way as to effectively minister the Gospel during disasters. By providing a safe place for children, parents can address the issues of the effects to property and lives. Churches and other non-government organizations have been trained all over Japan as well as other places like the Philippines, China and Korea.
OpSafe Responce to flooding in Higashimatsushima:
Just before VBS in
July, a massive amount of rain fell to the south of Japan’s main island causing extensive flooding. Belinda drove over 4 hours down with another church missionary to bring Operation Safe supplies and materials for a local church training. While there, they were able to participate in the volunteer clean up of mud left from the disaster.
They spent several hours in near 100 degree temperatures (41 celcius) with a team of volunteers filling bags with mud and then loading them on a truck to be hauled away. They filled the truck with large bags of mud at least 6 times! Because of the extreme heat, all volunteers were under strict order to work a maximum of 20 minutes and rest for at least 10 minutes.
It was a great experience working alongside the people of the community, who continually expressed their gratitude for our help.
All this ministry here in Japan is founded in the church “at home”. For us, until God moves us on, that is Ome, and God has had us focus on the body here as a foundation to reach the rest of this part of the world.
Two traditional VBSs this year:
We partnered with a ministry this year to come alongside a Calvary Chapel pastor and his wife ministering in Higashi Matsushima, an area hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami centered in Tohoku. Belinda and 3 team members traveled there and ministered to about 20 children. This is one of the many areas barely reached with the Gospel.
At our VBS here in Ome, we presented the Gospel to over 50 children this year. We have been here long enough to begin to see children who had previously attended VBS, grow up and become team leaders now to the next generation of kids in our community. This is how ministry is supposed to work!
By now we think you get the picture. We often start with materials from organizations in the USA, but everything has to be translated and tailored to Japanese speaking culture. One example of that is the songs we teach the children. Usually we get tracks with vocals, but they are all in English. One example of the effort it takes is to take the instrument tracks and after translating the songs into Japanese, we use our own talented people to re-record everything in both languages. John produces all these songs and gets them ready for use in VBS events. This process takes weeks to complete but the results are an extremely effective tool in communicating God’s Love and purpose to these children.
I want to hear the VBS songs in English and Japanese!! (<---- Click here)
We so often reach the parents through the children. Parents either watch their kids enjoying the event or the kids bring the music, materials and crafts home where their parents see it. Many of the parents and families who attend our church first heard the Gospel at one of the summer VBS events.
Video of song and dance (<--- Click here)
John, besides overseeing the worship ministry, all things “web” and assisting with the preparation of materials used in VBS, is focusing more on men’s ministry this year. The men have a monthly breakfast where the issues men are challenged with, as well as family issues, can be addressed. Oh yeah, we have a great breakfast too 😛
Ministry is ongoing on a personal basis as we keep our “Spiritual Antennas” tuned to others. One example is someone we mentioned before named Eduardo. We met him at Costco of all places. He is married, (and struggling in his marriage) to a Japanese woman. There are three children involved. He has received Christ and now seeks to see his marriage saved. Please pray for him and his family. This is an opportunity for God to be glorified in a way that will impact many others.
Belinda has been leading a women’s prayer group every Sunday to pray specifically for prodigal children and unsaved spouses. Ladies who previously found it too difficult to commit to a regular weekly prayer group have been joining her consistently as she personally invites each woman to pray each week after the service with her.
She has also been able to meet individually with 3 other women for prayer on a weekly basis.
One vision she has is to get these Christian women reaching out to the community through a “Christmas Tea and Cookie Exchange”. This is not a typical event in Japanese culture, but one that could have an impact in our community as we can invite many non-Christians to attend. Something to pray about!
The assistant pastor, Tom Cotton, and his wife Chika started a Sunday afternoon English Café where we can invite local Japanese to have English conversations with native speakers (us) and enjoy coffee, tea and snacks. We pray for God to guide the conversations to Biblical topics and the gospel. Each week we have at least one or more Japanese come. On occasion, some have stayed for the Sunday evening worship service held afterward. It’s been encouraging and exciting as of late to see the attendance to this format of outreach increase.
John is working with one of the church members who, as a Japanese graphic artist, has developed many, many hours of
children’s ministry materials for teaching the Bible. But what is “Kamishibai”?
The reading “kami” can mean a few different things in Japanese. You say “kami”, but the kanji (the pictogram) can be one of several kanji. Two of the different kanji can represent “Paper” or “God”. “Kamishibai” means a story told along with drawings. We are creating a website called “kamikamishibai.com” which is like a Japanese “play on words” meaning “Story of God with paper drawings”.
She has, as mentioned, created hundreds of images, texts and resources to go with this children’s ministry resource. John is building the website and converting all the resources to be ready to distribute via the web. This is a huge undertaking, but blessing and fruit it has produced here in our church will be spread across Japan for other Japanese speaking ministries.
- For over 50 children attending VBS
- For summer ministry and discipleship opportunities
- We have had several new people attending GCF in the last month and they are ministry minded people - Yay!
- For John as he continues to meet with and disciple other men (Please remember Edwardo and his marriage)
- For Belinda as the new school year begins and for continued opportunities to minister to parents and students.
- For the children and parents who heard the gospel at VBS this summer.
- For opportunities to share the gospel in our English classes
- For God’s guidance and direction as we are still seeking new ministry opportunities
- For our visa renewals to go through without problems
We want to thank you again for all the prayer and financial support over the years. Some of you have been supporting us the entire time we have been here. We just want to say how encouraging your prayers, support and personal email mean to us.
THANK YOU! and God bless you richly.