I’ve been in Japan for half a year now, so I wanted to give everyone a quick update! The Cherry Blossom season has come and gone and now everything is fresh and green outside. I’ve now experienced every season Japan has to offer, and all that comes with them (fall leaves, lots of flowers, humid heat, freak blizzards, a few earthquakes and a couple of typhoons). I feel like I’m starting to get a better grasp on the language, and hearing Japanese spoken all around me all the time is becoming normal. I can pick up context and details of passing conversation most times, but I’m still working towards being able to put together a conversation. Learning to imitate the bus and train announcements helps with getting used to the emphases and tonalities, and it’s fun to get a laugh from people by mimicking the train station messages.
Crane and Sakura blossoms at Shakujii Koen
God is still guiding and leading, and I’m still connecting with new people often. I’ve joined a men’s group that meets on Wednesday mornings at an Indian restaurant owned by a missionary from India who’s been here for a long time and set up his restaurant right across from the station. It’s been great to be in fellowship with missionaries and believers of various ages, backgrounds and from so many different organizations. We spend the time having breakfast and talking about a specific topic that is brought to the table by someone who Sobi (the owner of the restaurant) chooses. Because the group is so diverse, the discussions have been rich and enlightening and the different perspectives give a lot to ponder. We always end by praying for each other. With so many missionaries here, I feel more and more like this town is the right place to be for me to learn about ministry in Japan.
My family will be coming to visit in mid-May, so my wife and I have been spending a lot of time getting our house ready. God has provided in simple ways, so even though we’ve been very busy, we’ve enjoyed the process. My nephew Marty is thinking about going to college here in Japan, so my mother, sister and he are coming to check out universities. Please pray for this time to be life changing for all of them.
Lastly, here’s the most exciting bit of news for me in this update. A couple of weeks ago, a Japanese woman named Makiko whose son takes English lessons from my mother-in-law put her faith in Christ. This in and of itself is worthy of giving praise to God, but I feel especially grateful because of the way it came about. A little backstory: In 2016, I came to Japan to be a part of a worship and songwriting workshop. My wife, who at the time was just a friend, also joined. Because of that workshop, some of the people at Wako Bible Chapel (the house church her father pastors) decided to start writing worship songs and hymns. It wasn’t long before they had a CD of the songs, all based heavily on scripture, recorded (with my wife singing all the songs, my father-in-law recording everything at home, and our friend Shin-san writing most of the lyrics. I helped a little with writing some of the melodies.) They gave the CD out to anyone and everyone, believer or not, including Makiko-san. She had been listening to it over and over until it was worn out and began reading the Bible. Last month when she went to my mother and father in law to pay for her son’s English lessons, she asked what these things mean, in which they were able to share the Gospel. She went home and threw away all of the idols and statues in her house, has been coming to fellowship with us on Sundays and will be getting baptized next week. Please pray for her growth in Christ and knowing God. Pray especially for her family who, as is often the case here, oppose her acceptance of Christ.
Sisters in Christ
This has been one of the most encouraging things for me, seeing that art and music can truly make an impact, especially when the truth is not compromised, weakened or sugarcoated. As we start to wrap up the next batch of songs and hymns for the second record, please pray for God to use these songs in the same way, and that He would be glorified through this creative offering. We are all praying and expecting to have more testimonies like Makiko’s to give God praise for in the future. As the next year brings more creative opportunities and the connections I’ve been making start to turn into collaborations, pray that God’s Spirit would move and inspire art that is truthful, encouraging, edifying and is always to the praise of our Father and the Savior, Jesus.
Please continue to keep us in your prayers, especially as we continue to minister in small ways and look toward greater opportunities in the future. My personal prayer lately has been to have connections and build relationships with at least one congregation in each prefecture of Japan within the next couple of years. Thank you to those of you who have supported us with your generosity in giving and in your time spent praying for us. God bless!
At the rose garden in Hikarigaoka park with family and friends from Wako Bible Chapel.