The Summer has ended, Fall is starting and it’s the time when things seem to be overlapping. The weather is still quite warm and humid, but the nights are cool and breezy. There’s still a few cicadas singing here and there, but the Brown-eared Bulbuls and Azure-winged Magpies have returned with their screams and screeches (I miss American songbirds). The trees are still green, but the Spider-lilies and Cosmos have started to bloom. You can still buy watermelon and peaches at the markets, but they’re accompanied by Nashi pears and Chestnuts. I really enjoy these in-between weeks when the seasons change because it’s a reminder that something new is coming, and almost like a fresh start.
This summer had its unexpected challenges, but from those challenges my wife and I learned and grew. Seeing the Lord work in difficult times is always a good reminder of His presence, grace, mercy, provision, guidance and love, and we need that reminder often because we so easily forget. At a later time, I’d like to share what we’ve been through and what we’ve learned, but it feels as if there might still be more to learn. The most basic lesson I think we took away is something that is a recurring lesson in most seasons, and that is to be content in all times and all things, whether abounding or suffering need. (Philippians 4).
As for ministry, God has continued to guide us and show us how to serve here in Japan, and specifically in the place where we are. We’ve had a lot of guests in our home lately, and it seems every day in October there will be guests staying in our home. This sort of ministry has been wonderful and eye opening, as each person has their own story. Some of them come and stay just because they need a place for a few nights, and this gives us a chance to fellowship and enjoy the company of brothers and sisters in Christ. Others, such as our current guests, are dealing with hard life situations and need refuge, need a place to unwind and laugh, need to hear the sounds of birds singing and fresh forest air every morning. I’m so thankful the Lord has provided a place where people can come ‘heal’ and ‘reboot’. I’m reminded of all the people in my life who were hospitable to me when I needed it most, am thankful for their examples and grateful to God for allowing us to minister in this way.
In other news, I recently did some much-needed soundproofing to my studio space so that I can record during the day without crows, children and every passing car making a cameo appearance on my tracks. That project kept me busy most of the summer and was challenging but fun. I’m thankful that the Lord has provided some work from back home to help us along in ministry here, and it’s a fun way to stay connected and make music with some of my buddies in the States. I’ve even been on songs that made it to radio (one was #1 on the Texas charts recently), which, ironically, was a goal I was reaching for in Nashville and never achieved. Now that my focus has shifted, it’s almost as if those achievements are just a nice pat on the back or a little gold star sticker on the board and not the jewel in my crown and thing that keeps me getting up every morning like it used to be. Funny how that works.
Speaking of music projects from back home that I’m involved in, one particularly exciting one is called “Simple Hymns”. The project is meant to bring time-tested hymns to younger generations that are in need of deeper truth in worship music. It features classic and obscure hymns with modern melodies which are all recorded with acoustic instruments and simple production in order to allow them to be learned and used by congregations of any size. The songs will all be available in video format on YouTube and each set will feature a different theme (the first being ‘Redemption’). Because the size of many congregations in Japan are around 20-30 people, this is the sort of project that would be perfect for the church here. Thus, my wife and I have started to work on some translations and perhaps will be able to make some recordings for the church here to use.
Back in the Spring I connected with a husband/wife duo called WIND (Nori and Barbie Kelley) who were here from North Carolina. I got to sit in with them on fiddle and mandolin, and just recently I had the privilege of playing on their next record, called "Incense", which is a collection of songs taken directly from scripture. It will be releasing sometime in October, so check out their site here for details. There will also be a Japanese release with some songs translated by my wife, Ai.
As for Japanese music projects, I’ve started working on some new songs for Wako Bible Chapel, started working on my own Japanese hymns project featuring Kokyu (Japanese fiddle) and other Japanese instruments and will also be working with Daisuke and Kazuko Yokoyama on their next record. I had a great time helping Daisuke-san and Kazuko-san at the International Worship conference in Machida and will be joining them again at the Zion Fest worship festival at Tokyo Christian University on October 14th.
Pastor Stephen Young from Crossroads of the Nations (the Japanese congregation in Nashville) will be visiting Japan next month (and will be our guest for a night.) We look forward to seeing him again and catching up on how things are going back in Nashville. My wife and I will be joining him for a couple of events to share music.
Thank you all again for your prayers and support. I’d like to ask for your prayers regarding ministry to those in the body of Christ that need encouragement and building up in their faith. One thing that we’ve learned is that the enemy will try to get my wife and I distracted and discouraged in our own lives and try to make us less effective in serving those who God has put in our lives. Please pray for God’s protection from these schemes and deceptions. Please pray for other ministry, as well. I am still hoping we can connect with more congregations, share music and words of encouragement. Please pray also for God’s continued provision for us to be able to keep serving here in Japan. If you would like to help support us, please be sure to visit the GivingFuel page here. As always, please feel free to write and say hello, and stop by if you ever come to Tokyo.
Much love in Christ,
Kyle and Ai