Warmest early Christmas greetings our friends: Winter, 2018
Tokyo Christmas doesn’t really “Deck the Halls” for us in a country where less than 0.5% of the people identify as followers of Jesus. But that doesn’t stop the holiday sales! As in Canada, as soon as Halloween has mercifully faded away, selling in the name of Santa is on the rise here as surely as the sun. But we know the real Japanese holidays will begin with the New Year, when ancestors will be worshiped in Buddhist fear, and the Emperor, the sun god, will be confirmed “lord of all” by Shinto believers, as many will flock to the nearest seashore to bow as the sun rises at New Years.Most Japanese cover their bases by observing both Buddhist and Shinto religious rites.
We are well! Mom and dad continue to adjust to being empty nesters with the happy anticipation that two of three fledglings have pledged to return to the nest for Christmas! Tess will working nights in Toronto as a nurse over Christmas, while hubby Jacob rests from postgraduate studies at U of T, but both Grady and Julia are able to flutter back to Tokyo. We will spoil them appropriately with all they can eat sushi and much more. As much as we enjoy the benefits of being empty nesters, it is still difficult to be 10,000 km away from your kids as they continue to adjust to a country they were not born in, rarely lived in, and don’t really understand, but are expected to be a part of. Julia is finishing her first semester of Engineering at U of Waterloo, and has a coop job on campus from January-April. Between Spike Ball tournaments all over North America (hard to explain, Google it). Grady is in the middle of postgraduate studies, also at U of Waterloo. It has been really nice for Julia adjusting to Canada with both Grady and Tess nearby, and helpful.
We have been challenged over the last few months to think about how we do ministry in Japan. 25 years in, you would think we would have things mostly figured out, but with a vision to ‘plant multiplying churches’ it sure looks more like simple addition at this point! We have been challenged recently to abandon the expensive western building based, professional leader heavy model of church planting, and instead multiply disciples, who will become indigenous church planters. God has graced us with fruit over the years, but most have not gone on to win their friends and family to Christ. Our goal, moving forward, will be to win Japanese to Christ (we have seen that already), and then leave them with the tools to reach other Japanese for Jesus. We want to Japanese believers become soul winning disciples.
Recently we have been reaching out to a single mom and her 6 years old daughter. Resistant at first, Ms. N. seems to be opening up to Jesus through friendship. We will see them twice before Christmas, so please pray for them. Also, Mrs. S., a grandmother who recently believed is encouraging us by her spiritual growth! Mrs. S is reading through her Bible this year, praying while riding her bike daily to get groceries, and sharing her faith with her 3 kids as well as her sister who has been clearly outspoken in her opposition about her new faith.
Thank you for your prayers and generous support. Last month we sent out an appeal for FAIR, Project Hand Me Downs, through which we send used clothing and toys from Japan to the Philippines. Thank you so much! The project goal of $10,000 has been met, and we have the money needed to send stuff collected from Japan to Tacloban City in the Philippines. We also want to thank you for your ongoing support of our work here in Japan. We have had the privilege of living for Jesus in a country where Jesus needs to be discovered. But we could not be here without your prayers and support. Thank you!
If you would like to pray more specifically for what we are involved in, please contact the office at Village Green Community Church for our contact information.
Thanks so much for being part of what God is doing in our small part of Japan, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Rob and Kathryn