At the Ishinomaki church one woman came up me after the sermon and said, “Sensei, I suffer from depression.” I was a bit shocked by her directness but said in at least six unique ways that “Jesus loves you.” She began to smile and tears ran down her cheek. There is much power in the Name of Jesus and in His Gospel!
DISASTER AREA IN JANUARY – Joel Erickson from Bethany Moline church joined John for a trip to Tohoku Jan 4-13. Thanks for praying. Tohoku was cold but the weather was good, very little snow. We had no trouble getting around in “snow country.” 1) We completed the last section of Abe’s house started by Team Ohio in November. 2) We developed a deeper relationship with the Shojis. They are the same family I shared about at the Converge Worldwide Biennial meeting (http://www.gospelrest.com/a-story-of-one-family/). Mrs. is reading Christian author, Miura Ayako’s, novel Shiokari Pass I gave them for Christmas (last Christmas was a Bible). We rejoiced with them in the progress made on their property since the tsunami.
CONNECTING WITH JESUS
1. Elaine will be the main speaker at a women’s luncheon at the Tokyo Horizon Chapel on Saturday February 9th. Pray that both pre-Christians and Christians would be reminded of the great love of the Father.
2. We have a Valentine’s Dinner with the Agape Group on 2/10. Pray that God would speak to their hearts.
3. Elaine’s Birthday is Tuesday February 19th. She will turn 60. Help her celebrate!
4. Elaine continues to minister weekly with women through her classes and mentoring. Pray for each woman. The Bible studies are phenomenal as each person goes home changed each time.
BUILDING FOR IMPACT
1. The Church Planting Institute (CPI) is endorsing seminar March 4-5 in Sendai on Rural Church Planting. There are 929 towns and villages in Japan without any church. There are also 41 other areas unreached and 11 cities still without churches. Please pray that more churches will be started in towns and villages of Japan! John will be facilitating some training sessions.
2. Thank you for praying for several key meetings with JEMA and CPI leadership for the CPI National Conference this November. We are moving forward to DO MISSION. Pray more as we work more!
3. Japan Disaster Response teams are still needed through December. Pray as John develops our response to planting churches where we have worked. PTL! Partner Dean Bengtson moves into the neighborhood February 7th. This will develop the permanent presence we have worked for.
Thanks for praying for John’s greeting to the Tokyo young people becoming adults on 1/15. John shared with them the need of hope in Japan and challenged them to be a People of Hope because we have a God of Hope (Romans 15:13). Continue to pray that Elaine and I do exactly that each day.
From Nov 5-7 is our Church Planting Institute BootCamp. Numbers exploded as we went from 45 last time to 90 this time. Now we are ready to export the BootCamp in various parts of Japan. Already many are encouraged. While I was there a videographer shot a brief greeting to you. Please pass it one and maybe show it at your church.
This is a great story of one victim of the disaster struggling in his life and how a group of serious Christians can cause him to think about his life. A great story of really sharing Christ, a changed life, and the power of prayer. These are the kinds of relationships our volunteers and our partners are in everyday we minister.
This video to us has very familar faces. Besides the families of victims there are people we worked side-by-side in Urayashiki with Dean Bengston. Some notables in the video are Paul Suzuki, SEND Japan director, Warren Janzen, SEND world director, Jonathan Wilson head of CRASH and a few people we worked with mudding out the Watanbe’s house. You can even catch a photo of our dear friends the Fujinos with Southern Baptist. Scenes are also of Minami Sanriku just up the coast. Keep playing, soooooooo much still to be done.
Though there is much work to be done, disaster victims do have time to thank those who have helped them. If you donated funds, worked as a volunteer, or prayed for disaster response ministry this video is especially for you.
Over 9 months later, people in the disaster area still live in temporary homes. Half of the 61,000 homes in Ishinomaki were lost in the tsunami. Difficulty still continues. More homes need to be rebuilt.
Every year Elaine invites all the women from her various cooking, needlepoint and Bible classes to our home to celebrate Christmas. They sing Christmas Carols (note the video) and share a Christmas message from an invited guest. Today, December 5th, 24 women came and heard Chiho Nakano, our pastor’s wife, share the meaning of Christmas with them at the Tea. The house is packed with women who really have a great time. They all went home with the Campus Crusade produced Legacy CD of light jazz music and message. Except for Elaine and Chiho all of these women are pre-Christians, pray for the message of Christmas to become real to them.
Since May 2011, Converge Worldwide teams have been working in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse (SP) and their associates in Ishinomaki. This video highlights the kind of ministry that SP does throughout the region, like distributing home kits and being involved in reconstruction. Many of us have met country director Matt Svenson and a few of us worked with kickboxing pastor Kishinami.
If you are interesting in working as a volunteer we can introduce you to wonderful people like those hightlighted in this video.