- 2022 Christmas Services
- EFCA Quarterly Financial Update
- 35th Anniversary Combined Service
- 2022 Annual Assembly EFCA AGM
- Notice of Meeting and Agenda – Annual General Meeting 2022
- Q&A – Gen 3 & Rom 8 – 3 Oct 2021
- Q&A – 1 Cor 12 – 1 Aug 2021
- Encouragement & Welcoming Q&A – 24th June 2021
- Q&A – John 2 – 21 Feb 2021
- Christianity & Feminism Q&A – Oct 2020
Category: 2016 Japan Mission Trip News
Team photo- spot the Ninja’s
Final day of mission: So long farewell Japan
On our final day we again visited the new church plant in Nayoro. Thank you for your prayers as we got to Nayoro which is 1.5 hrs away safely. We weren’t sure as to how many people there’d be at church as there’s usually only 3 regular members and many of them are irregular! But as we pulled up to the church, there were several cars parked and a tiny church that was bustling with hype and excitement. Although there were only about 10 people there, God was working in powerful ways through this new church plant (about a year and half old). Dave again preached from Isaiah 2:1-4 about the ingathering of the nations, challenging the people to be missional wherever they are; while Phillip shared his testimony. We shared church lunch together over homemade Japanese curry.
Although a much smaller church than the Nagayama church and even smaller than EFCA in Sydney, we know that will do amazing things through this small congregation of the saints. Please pray that God would raise up a new pastor for this church as the current pastor is planning to leave next year wishing to plant another church somewhere else.
For the team, it has been a rewarding time to bond together, be challenged to take forth His gospel to whoever and to wherever. Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers through this time. We’ve been challenge to not let these last couple of weeks be something of a distant memory , but to keep the fire of being missional wherever we are- whether that be at uni or work or around the community.
It’s a challenge for each one of us and including you to be a Christian wherever you are and to hold out the gift of life- the gospel. Let’s all be challenged to pray for at least two unbelievers this year with the hope that they may come to know the true and living God.
Day 11: Aussie Aussie Hoi hoi hoi!
Yesterday we spent the time debriefing our time in Japan. It was a very encouraging time to affirm each other, look at highlights and think of how things could be done better- if God willingly we hold another one next year.
Last night and early this morning, we were all busily preparing for the Aussie Party that we had today. We baked 100 ANZAC biscuits, lamingtons, and cooked a sausage sizzle. We prayed that God would bring lots of new people to the party. Initially there were only 4 people that turned up and we thought- oh no. Many of the church members did ask their friends but they had things on. But the party still needed to go ahead!
We started with a quick welcome, then got our dancing boots on with bush dancing the heal toe polka. We learnt the steps and everyone had a ball of a time, but were exhausted by the end of it. We then taught them some English skills in how to order food. The dialogue went little like this:
Hello, how are you? (Well thank you, how are you?)
What would you like? (I would like a sausage sizzle, lamington, ANZAC biscuit and a cup of Milo please)
Would you like anything else? (No thank you)
That will be $25 please (thank you)
We went around practicing it in which they will use to order the food from the café. While this was happening another 10 plus others rocked up and joined us.
We also had an Aussie culture quiz teaching them cool stuff about Australia. We had the café and the new people had to order food. We had great conversations and they enjoyed the food very much!
Although the numbers were less than expected, we were encouraged that those who did come and were able to hear Naomi share her testimony of how God saved her though his grace and has given her true worth, hope and meaning in life.
Things to pray for:
-Please continue to pray that the seeds plated were grow and bear good fruit
-Pray that we’d keep in contact with some of the members from church
-Pray that the church would continue to have opportunities to share Jesus with their friends
-We head off again to Nayoro church (which is a 1.5 hr drive) that we’d get their safely as the car had some mechanical issues. Jimmy and Vivian left today to head back to Australia for work, so Hoi Yan is the only driver.
Day 10: Planting churches
Hi all, this is Jimmy and Vivian.
Thanks for your continuous prayers, that are so important and encouraging to us. Time flies, today is day 10 already. Thank God that we have built up good relationships with each other. We two are also promoted to the team’s dad and mum, (grandpa and grandma to little Sam, haha!). No worries, all our sons and daughters are still in good shapes.
Today, we had a 3 hour return long drive to city of Nayoro to visit a church plant. It seemed that everyone wasn’t used to being cooped up in car for long hours, and therefore we felt bit tired. But thanks to Philip, Calvin and Isaac who kept on talking and telling stories.
Kito Sensei of the church plant in Nayoro gave us a very detailed explanation of how Japan churches developed. One thing that impressed us was the difference between the church revival of Japan and Korea. In World War II, the Japan government censored all churches messages and forced churches to agree that Buddhism and Shintoism are acceptable. Moreover, the government put the emperor above God. Many churches compromised to avoid imprisonment. Although their lives were saved, the churches declined because of compromising the truth. On the other hand, the Korean churches didn’t compromise and many people lost their lives. However, the churches blossomed as a result.
Kito Sensei said that the Japanese churches today have learned their lesson, and hence are speaking out when the government are trying to change the law to allow Japan to go to war. This has implications for us back in Australia as well. During the Edo period, a person must die if he chose to be a Christian and also caused the lives of their neighbours. That is why in Japan, people hesitate to be different from their neighbours. It illustrates the urgency of spreading the gospel in Japan.
After the fruitful sharing by Kito Sensei, we took a short visit to Olympic skiing ground. That is for professional training nowadays. We are going back to the church plant this coming Sunday to join their service where Dave will preach and Phillip and Naomi share their testimonies.
On the return trip there was some minor car troubles. Thanks to Isaac who prayed immediately and we arrived to church safely. Yamamoto Sensei took the van to the mechanic and seemed it is safe to use. Praise the Lord.
- Pray for the churches of Japan to be the light and salt in the society to speak out the truth.
- Pray for Dave, Philip and Naomi, that their sharing on Sunday can encourage all the church members.
- Pray for the recovery of the team members
- Pray for the van will be in good condition that doesn’t affect our coming itinerary.
- Praise God that there was rain yesterday that could cool us down.
Day 9 Be prayerful always
One of the things that this church in Nagayama has made a huge impression on me is their diligence and commitment to pray. They come together every morning at 6.30am to pray for the needs of the church, evangelism, Japan and individual people in the church. On Wednesday (today) they also come together at 10am and 7pm to pray! That puts our prayer life to dead! It has been encouraging to see their passion to come together to pray. It’s something that I’m rebuked of and I’m sure that you guys back home are as well. You see, this is only a church of around 30 adults. And yet their desire to pray is just awesome.
In the arvo, Pastor Yamamoto shared about the history of the church in the Nagayama area, and how the church has gone through some rough patches in the past, and yet God has been faithful. Their vision in 2020 is to plant another three churches in North Japan and have 50 regular members in their congregation. Please continue to pray that God would bless their work and that more and more people in Japan would come to know Jesus.
We then visited a Japanese museum that showed the history of the Nagayama area and showed some really cool stuff about the area. A lot of the info was in Japanese so they had to translate it. Then we visited a couple of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines which was pretty dark spiritually We prayed together that God would open the hearts of the Japanese people who are caught up with this idolatry and to turn back to the true and living God- Jesus Christ. It’s sad to see that people have been seduced by the god of this age to write prayer requests for good health or good exam marks and offer them up to an unknown god.
Things to pray for:
-Give thanks for the faithful prayers of the people at the Nagayama church. May God bless the labours of their hand.
-That God would take the veil away from the hearts of the Japanese people and that they may come to know the true and living God.
-The team is getting pretty tired as we woke up early for the 6.30am prayer meeting. Pray for strength and energy.
“You yourself are a letter from Christ. Not written with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God”
Yoyoyo it’s yo woman Naomi!
Just kidding. Who is that. I don’t talk like that. Geesh. #InDenial
Anyway hey guys! Today we had our KIDS Aussie party at the Nagayama church. We handed leaflets out the other day to school kids going back to school. When we saw a kid or two, we just went for it, said “Douzo” (Here you go) and gave them the leaflets. As frightening as it was that we couldn’t communicate well with the children, we handed our expectations of how many would come over to God. It was truly amazing. In the end, more than 19 kids came along today.
This included at least 3-4 of them or more who has never gone to this church before, or has never heard about God. If you think about how there are 30 members of the church, and barely 1 person per year coming to know Jesus per church, having even just 1 child come, who doesn’t usually come, is so so encouraging!
With God, the fruit may be slow but it will surely come. This is something that we have been able to learn and appreciate.
At the start of the party, we saw many familiar faces, but also lots of shy unfamiliar faces of young girls and boys. We sat with them and yeah tried to communicate with them, if not then just smile and say hello. In a non-creepy way. Hopefully.
We started off with showing them the minties game. Everyone was in supeeerrr concentration mode, trying hard not to rip the minties wrapper and get the longest strip. Samuel did a great job at demonstrating how to do it. That was pretty brave since we’re talking about 19 other kids who didn’t speak his language!
Next *drumroll * was more fun and games! Yay! Haha!
So we taught them the song “My God is so Big” and sang it slowly and the kids were surprisingly all working hard on their actions. They all got involved and followed through. After that, we taught them a whole bunch of animal names, including koala (aka drop bear, because it’s cardboard cut-out was like 3x the size of the kangaroo), kangaroo, emu, cockatoo, and wombat. And did a whole bunch of games like fruit salad (animal version) and bang (animal pose version) and another animal pose game. We showed them how interesting the different types of animals were, and then taught them the biggest secret in the world! That is, that God made them all, including us humans. Tada! So unexpected!
The whole arvo was really active and the kids looked like they enjoyed it. What was really cool was that apparently some kids were asking them they could come again and see us again. So hopefully they will come along for Sat! The adult aussie party (can lure kids with snacks).
Honestly, today could have gone so wrong if the kids were bored, or if we couldn’t communicate ourselves enough, or if the kids were too shy to interact with us, etc etc. But it all went so well. And I reckon that’s something we may take for granted a lot in a lot of the things we organise in any context really. Recognising this, we really thank God for such a successful event and that so many children came along. This is definitely something we really want to thank God for in our prayers and in our reflections.
After (and before) the aussie party today, we handed out flyers for the Saturday adult aussie party. Well, rather than handing them out… since the Japanese people are so busy in their daily lives that you barely see any of them walking along the street, If you do see someone it’s almost always seniors or middle school kids riding their bikes home. So what we did was we went around with 500+ flyers and popped them into the mail boxes of the neighbouring streets.
It’s really interesting how the Japanese housings are like. Their front door is 50% only accessible after you opening a screen door and enter this little entrance place (not talking about the ‘genkan’ entrance where you take off your shoes, but outside the actual front door). And their mail box is either just a slit with a swinging lid or a box that looks like a first aid kid box. So it was a bit strange because half of the time, for me anyway, I felt like I was a burglar hahah… I think I looked really sus).
Even though we handed out quite a bit of flyers, I guess we have prayed to similarly hand over the rest to God, and continue to pray about it. I personally found myself getting a bit worried that the people are just going to throw the flyers in the bin, but today 2 Corinthians 3:1-11 really encouraged me and the team. It reminded us that the spirit that lives within us and the power of the gospel is so so glorious, and that we can have confidence in it. Verse 3:11 it says, “And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!”
At the end of today, the Yamamoto’s took us to dinner at a Patisserie owned by a Christian family. Woahhh! Christian family!
It was a really kawaii (cute) wooden shop filled with cakes and flowers and little souvenirs. The lady who served us was really nice and acted really generous. And the food? Oh man the food was really pretty, and really really yummy. There was either omuomu rice, or tempura, or pasta, with rice and miso soup and little salads, etc. Then came the desserts. It was like literally dining in a cake shop with different types of cakes, puddings, and desserts, but with legit restaurant standard good main-course food. Mmm the cream and fruity and chocolatey taste. –Insert more emphasis on how legit yummy they were, for all you food lovers out there. May the drool be with you-
In the end we found out, that the Yamamoto’s were actually treating us for the meal. Really, how many times now have they shared their generosity with us? We’re really thankful for just how much effort they have put in for us for so so many things; from the bare necessities to something as luxurious as a nice meal. This brings my thoughts all back to God with how much He blesses all of us; physical things and powerful relationships, and traits of love, generosity and patience – all because of Jesus. It’s an overwhelming awe that I can’t quite express in words without typing an essay.
Day by day, God may teach us many things, or we might feel stagnant, but it’s amazing that in hindsight you know that He’s always at work. And I’m so glad to be a part of this team and witness all the wonderful things that He does here in Japan. There are so many things to hand over to Him and pray about, and it would be awesome if you can to pray for us too.
Here are a few things you can pray for:
- Pray for the seeds that may have already been sown in the past week during the church service, kid’s camp, and kid’s Australian party and so on.
- Pray for the Saturday adult Aussie party, and that some people may show up at our door step wanting to know what there is in store for them (Probably food at first, but then after that, God! Yay!)
- Pray that the kids who are already coming to the church will continue to come along even as they grow older.
- Pray for the younger regulars as it is incredibly hard for them to share their faith, or even say that they go to church, with their friends and schoolmates.
- Pray for healing for Hoi Yan who has had varies pains for the last week, such as her back pain.
- Pray that our team and the church people’s hearts, minds and bodies can be revitalised each day through strength from God and sufficient sleep so that we can have the energy for the next day, as some of us are quite tired physically and some emotionally.
- Pray that we can keep God and the gospel as the centre of our priorities and lives so that God may be glorified through each and every one of us.
– “Yan time” Corner –
*Driving to Onsen, Jimmy following in another van*
Hoi Yan: “I hope I don’t drive too fast because we might run through a yellow light hahah…”
Hoi Yan: “We might lose Jimmy”
Isaac: “Oh you’re one of those people”
Hoi Yan: “I’m a sinner too”
- Zhen Garden
Day 6: If we call ourselves Christian, we are all already missionaries
Sup lads, I know you guys been missing me writing the blog, but I’m back with even more stories to share. Since we’ve come back from the kid’s camp we’ve been recovering from the intense sweat session. Some of the souvenirs we’ve taken back from the camp include a couple of mosquito bites, multiple sweaty shirts and a healthy dose of camping in Japan. For me in particular I took back more than 6 bites. Got rekt by nature.
Let’s get onto the real stuff though
So today we experienced for the first time the youth/Sunday school program at 9.30am and a full Sunday morning service at 10.30am. It was enlightening to watch the kids get really into the activities organised by the youth and Sunday school teams. This included a brief talk, some singing and some memory verse. I personally joined the youth group, where we spent time to share with one and another about how we feel living our lives for God every day. I shared about how I found it hard to keep looking at God with all the busyness of Uni and life. Overall it was encouraging to see how the kids can get really into listening to God’s word even tho it’s their summer holiday, they could spend that precious free time elsewhere. Then we had the actual church service that involved 6 songs, a talk from Dave on Isaiah 2:1-4 about the ingathering of the nations that was translated into Japanese and 2 songs led by us and a testimony from Jimmy. One thing that really stood out for me was how after the general welcoming, everyone got up from their seats and started to say good morning to each other. For me this was a highlight as each and every person would go out of their way to say hello to EVERYONE in the service, even people that were sticking to the edge of the room. Overall the service went well, Dave spoke faithfully to the church, challenging the congregation to not be afraid being a Christian in Japan but rather be an example and talk to others in whatever place they are. Jimmy pretty much was a tank, taking on his full testimony in Japanese even though it is his 3rd language. And the whole congregation got into the English songs we led, which was Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) and My God is so Big.
After the service we had a delicious lunch that included a yaki-udon and watermelon and cake that was baked by one of the Japanese members who used to be patisserie chef.
Some of the prayer points the church raised included
- For the Nagayama Church to reach their vision of having 50 members in the congregation and for an expansion in the church itself
- For the Australian team to be well rested and continue their mission in Japan devoted to God
- Plant more churches in North Hokkaido
- Unity between us and them
The Fun Stuff
So after the church service, the Nagayama Church kindly set up a cross-cultural session for us. This included 5 stations that involved Origami, Japanese Calligraphy, experience traditional Japanese tea ritual, wearing a yukata and eating some shaved ice! It was pretty fun watching the other members getting into each station. At the origami station, there was this hectic old woman who was pro with origami. She legit made a spinning top from paper. The calligraphy session was also very popular; here Vivian had a draw-off against Aika who learned how to do Japanese calligraphy. There were some nice designs made by everyone. At the tea stations, we learned how there is a fine art in drinking tea, which involved particular hand gestures and how you make the tea and drink the tea. For example we had to sit on our knees for the whole duration, leading to some of us having pins and needles in our legs as we couldn’t hold on anymore. Kana who took care of the tea told us she could hold the position up to 3 hours!!!!! Moreover the yukata station was only for girls, were Naomi had a go at wearing the dress. The whole time she had this funny expression as if she was dreaming and in a dazed by the whole experience. What a weirdo… Lastly the shave ice is what you expected; it was homemade and really refreshing as the weather has been hot lately. Overall as a team we are really thankful for the Yamamotos and the Nagayama Church congregations, who have graciously taken care of us and provide us with the necessities we need. It truly highlights the generosity and kindness in Japanese people. An example of this is lately they have been giving us fruit such as rockmelon, watermelon and cherries. Fruit in Japan is actually quite expensive as for example a single apple cost about 300 yen which is about $3; the rockmelon itself is over $10 per melon. As a team we are extremely thankful for this and we are continually praying for the growth of the Nagayama Church.
After some chill time, we headed to a Matsuri which is a summer festival that was happening over the weekend. It was extremely wild as there were HEAPS of peeps and lots of loud Japanese chanting throughout the night. Throughout the night we ate heaps of grilled and fried food which included yakitori sticks, karaage chicken and some soda and kiwi flavour ice cream. Pretty much we got fat over the night and we watched a ridiculously long parade that involved the local community. Actually went on for like forever so like cbbs, we left afterwards to go to the bath house for the usual personal and quality time that we have together. Then we duked it out on the taiko (drum) arcade game.
The Best Moment
* Trying to drink tea in a respectful manner*
Phillip: “ARGH MY LEGS I CAN’T HOLD THIS POSITION ANYMORE!!!”
How do we share the gospel if we can’t speak Japanese?
Hey all, Calvin here! Once again thanks for reading our blogs and praying for us, as we can really see God’s work here in Japan during our stay. I hope you’ve been enjoying reading it and having a small laugh, and we’ll continue to be keeping you updated… as long as there WIFI.
We haven’t updated yesterday because we were at the KIDS CAMP, sleeping and appreciating nature by all the MOSQUITOS EVERYWHERE! But hey it was great and it pretty much started like this:
So in the afternoon we waited for all the kids to come, trying to familiarise with them and not standing in our own group making a whole lot of NOISE! It was great so a few people turning up, including their mothers and fathers, and they weren’t shy enough to back away from our conversations. We listened to a small talk from Yamamoto-sensei to the children which talked about how God doesn’t lie, make mistakes and knows us and after praying we left to see this campsite.
The campsite was quite wide and it had a lot of facilities with it, ranging from an obstacle course to a smaller version of a golf course (weird huh? That’s not what you see everyday). There were a lot of people who came with us and there was still more to come! Turns out that the people who came to church were only primary schoolers and the junior higher schoolers (year 7 to 10) were coming afterwards! According to Hoi Yan there actually wasn’t enough tents for everyone, but praise the Lord that the Park Manager was able to lend the tents that they stopped lending since years ago! The males set up the tents and the females (including the children!) prepared the dinner. Dinner was delicious, the theme being barbeque and involved: marinated beef, yakitori (fried chicken) sticks, squid and sausages… ON A BONE. Are you salivating yet?
After dinner we played games with them, which included poison ball and octopus and tip. It was super fun and although we ended getting sweaty and getting INVADED by an army of mozzies, we were able to connect more towards the children and made them more willing to talk to us. Then came the best part: FIREWORKS!!! Technically they were just sparklers, but they were much bigger and had brighter. Each of them finished quite quickly and we all thought it ended already. Until one of the moms came and placed A BOX FULL OF FIREWORKS!!! We all grabbed a lot and played with so many sparkles that the smoke scared away all the mozzies! And then there were those gigantic fireworks, which exploded sparks upwards for a few seconds. It was like having a mini New Years Eve celebration right in front of us.
By then everyone went to his or her tents and had the children had discussion groups with their leaders. Everyone was tired and the day was almost over… but the kids weren’t satisfied with that. They called us out and went for a walk around the campsite, trying to scare each other in whatever manner they could: randomly appearing from the dark like Yamamoto-sensei, tapping their shoulder from behind like Isaac and making very loud noises like me, Calvin. Once again the walk was quite short but it was another great way for the children to get comfortable around us. The sleep was difficult from the flat ground, hot air and sweaty skin from all the running, but none of us really had a bad night.
The next morning the children had their bible study whilst the rest of us tried to catch a few more z’s. After eating bread with eggs, ham and vegetables for breakfast, we started packing up the tents and the kitchen. While we were doing this, the kids where playing on the obstacle course, which turned out to be a lot more challenging than the tiny obstacle courses in Australia. Sweating once more from the obstacle challenges, we finally headed back with a COOL welcome from the air conditioning in the car and our minds filled with the thought of being in a hot bath after this.
Returning to the church we had another talk from Yamamoto-sensei, which followed up on the previous talk. We learnt how despite our rejection to God such as “He loves us, so what?” and “I don’t believe that God is always right”, he will always love us and forgive us when we realise those mistakes. Lunch was served afterwards; with once again the delicious cold somen noodles that we can never find a rival in Australia. With the children all warmed up to us we talked and played with them and even had one particular girl, Noa, to draw people from the team in manga-style. Also Isaac showed the boys a slapping game where you have to dodge the slap, which ended up giving them lots of fun and red hands. After we prayed to finish off and let the children go home, we enjoyed our long-awaited hot bath and ate dinner at a local ramen place. CAN’T GET TIRED OF RAMEN! EVER!
Overall these two days have been a real encouragement for me, seeing how many people coming and their backgrounds. One of the boys, Eriya, was only 12 years old and despite growing into the church he already managed to pluck the courage and invite his non-Christian friend over. Also seeing how everyone worked together in preparing food and the tents really made me see how they can really provide for one another and be a family under Christ, whether this is how typical Japanese families act towards each other or not. The most regret we have is not spending enough time with the children and emphasis on inviting them over to Sunday service and next Tuesday’s “Australian Party”
So in response to little Sam’s question “How do we share the gospel if we can’t speak Japanese?”
Dav answered “We can always pray for them”. So here’s a list of things to pray for!
• Thank God for your work in this church and this society.
• Thank God for providing us in this trip
• Thank God for giving us the gift to speak Japanese in which helps us communicate to the people in this camp
• Pray for the people at the camp, whether children or adult, to come to know Christ by this event or by the attitudes of others to them
• Pray for the services tomorrow and that our presence will make a positive impact on their faith
• Pray for the team as we recover from the camp. Most of the team members had a bad night of sleep
The Best Moment:
Sam: “When I grow up, I want to be a tomato!”
Dave: “That’s not my son”
Isaac: “Hey Phillip check this photo out … hehehe”
Phillip: “You freaken stirrer”
KAWAII OVERLOAD DAY FREE V(^w^)V
Hey guys! This is Isaac here, and thank you for taking your time to read this blog and praying for us. I came to Japan to see how God is working here, in a country where Christianity is a minority, a presence continually washed out by the busy-ness of work and life. It’s my first time in Japan, but not my first time doing a short term mission.
We started off the day eating breakfast that we bought from the convenience store, and a devotion on 2 Corinthians 1, then we had an orientation by Yamamoto-sensei (Pastor Yamamoto, Sensei refers to a respectable person, rather than just teacher) on how we can help them live in their home, as well as the different places that are around the vicinity of the church.
We were given a map to explore Nagayama, and then we took off by ourselves to explore! We then helped them out with handing out flyers about the Australian party (coming soon to a website near you, next Tuesday), and then planning for the camp that we are going tomorrow! Like an actual camp with tents and stuff. Then we had dinner and went to the bathhouse.
Here’s what the church looks like! Architecture is pretty cool aye? The roof is flat so that the snow wouldn’t fall onto people, so considerate!
I’m falling in love with the Japanese gi- I mean culture. At first when I came I felt like I was in a dream because everywhere we went it was like ANIME BECAME REAL LIFE. I could see why Miyazaki-san (Studio Ghibli) drew trains and houses the way he drew them, even the forests! I love the manners of the Japanese people, and how staff would bow for every bus, plane and train that departed. Prior to coming, we were scared that we would offend the Japanese people for our misconduct on the trains, the buses, public areas (especially because Phillip is hysterical and Naomi laughs loudly). However, Hoi Yan encouraged us by sharing that she also had this struggle when she first came to Japan, and she told us that;
“The people at the church are very thankful that you have come all the way from Australia to get to know them, and their church, so don’t be so afraid to offend them by saying the wrong things or doing the wrong things because they are very gracious and thankful.”
To me this was my biggest encouragement coming to Japan so far. All this time leading up to this trip and especially when we arrived I had felt incompetent since I had forgotten so much of my Japanese (because I haven’t been using it for 2 years after high school) and I had no confidence to talk to them because of my incompetency. However after prayer for boldness, and just trying to speak to the people at church, I realised how true Hoi Yan’s encouragement was, and I felt very comfortable speaking to them. In fact, we are all trying; the church people are trying to speak English so that we can understand, whilst we are trying to speak Japanese, it all works out well!
A great moment today was when we all finished our exploring in Nagayama, and we sat down to have lunch with Yamamoto-sensei. He shared why he became a Pastor of Nagayama Church (this church has been blessed with over 30 years of history). He wanted to raise a family of children that would grow up glorifying God, however he was found to not be able to have children with his wife. He constantly prayed, asking God for guidance, and funnily enough, as he and his wife prayed for guidance, they both found Isaiah 6 which says, ‘Here I am, send me’. They both decided to go to Bible college, and he chose to become a pastor for the church that he has been going to ever since he had to work in Asahikawa. He also shared about struggles being the only Christian in his school. There was a school training camp that started on the same day as his baptism. They were both very important events and he asked his Pastor if they could move the baptism to next week. But the Pastor said No. Yamamoto-sensei prayed about this, and he talked to his teacher in high school about this, and funnily enough he found out that his teacher was Catholic, who acknowledged that the Baptism was a very important day. So he told Yamamoto-sensei to come to the training camp after his baptism. It is very common for there to only be one Christian in your school, high school, university, or workplace. Please pray that these Christians can be bold in living out their faith, and trusting God to work in their lives.
The best thing that happened today was handing out flyers for the children to come to the Australian Party that we will be running next week. Hoi Yan and some people run a regular English club, and we are the spin off series of that club. The kids were SUPER KAWAII! They are so cute!!! KYAAA~! Especially their squeaky little voices!
ANYWAYS, we ended up handing out all the flyers, and we even got a phone call back from one of their parents asking about the event! Praise God! Pray that lots of children would come, not only to learn English but to plant seeds in them to know God. It reminds me of the story of a Japanese old man, who is 80 years old. He saw the church as a young boy but never really entered the church until he was 80. Also pray that the parents would be encouraged to bring their children to the church regularly, that the church’s reputation will be a loving community to Nagayama, and that the children’s parents would be encouraged to come to the church as well.
I am very thankful for the Yamamoto family, opening up their place for us to stay in. We have futon, we have a fridge, water, bathroom, shelter, and WiFi, which is not the most important…but it does help you read this post so….there are convenience stores everywhere, squat toilets, and the most awesome bathhouses in the world! I am very thankful being a part of this team, and being a small part of God’s big plan for Japan. I will be praying for the growth of this church, and all the churches in Japan, will you be praying with me too?
Here’s some other things that you can pray for:
- Thank God that we are safe
- Thank God that he has given me the courage to use my limited Japanese, and pray that it will continue to get better.
- Pray for Hoi-Yan’s back, which is still sore.
- Pray that Hoi-Yan will have enough rest and wisdom. It is very tiring for her to be translating conversations from English to Japanese and vice versa. She is a gun! And doing a great job!
- Pray for the camp that is happening tomorrow (Friday), that it can be run smoothly. We are going to be playing games with children, preparing food and also setting up tents.
- Pray for a safe drive to the camp site.
Quote of the day
Hoi-Yan: “You guys should probably go find something interesting and tell us about it”
Phillip: “NAHHHH we’re going straight for AEON (a shopping center) and taking a DUMP”