Hitachinaka Happenings

Merry Christmas from Hitachinaka, Japan!

As the world approaches a second “Covid Christmas”, we, like most people, will make adjustments. Our family Christmas celebration will definitely have a Zoom flavour this year. Tess and Jacob are in Toronto, Grady and Britt are teaching MKs in Manila. Kathryn and I are in Japan, but Kathryn will return to Canada briefly to visit her parents and siblings, and help Julia move from a work term in Toronto to a study term in Cambridge over New Years.

Thank you for your prayers and financial giving to God’s work here in Japan in 2021. Covid has meant a lean year for many financially, and we also find ourselves with a little less support than most years. Yet, we have sensed an extraordinary freedom to share Christ in our city of Hitachinaka and beyond, and are seeing God work in ways new to us in this rural, unreached region. Our focus on making Jesus easier to talk about through Discovery Bible Studies has opened up new opportunities with people who have never met a Christian or thought of attending a church. It has been a very good year!

In 2021, Kath spent almost 50 afternoons with Miss Y, discovering Jesus from the pages of the Japanese Bible. Recently they went to see a new Italian movie of Pinocchio together. As a result, Miss Y asked to study the story of Jonah. (Pinocchio was swallowed by a big fish too!) They moved on to the “sign of Jonah”, where Jesus predicts his own death and resurrection in Matthew 12. Pray that she will confess with her mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in her heart that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9).

Jesus in Matthew 12:41 says about himself: “Something greater than Jonah is here”.

Kath has 4 regular studies with a total of 10 unbelievers. We asked you to pray for Miss. T in our last letter. She had not left her apartment in years, but she is now praying with Kath and is getting out of her house to attend worship services where she lives. Pray for continued spiritual and emotional growth. Kath is teaching English to our grade 6 neighbour every Saturday afternoon. Pray that as she receives a Manga Messiah book (life of Christ in comic form) that God would use it to bear fruit!

This past year, Rob has found some open doors through his vegetable gardening and fishing friends, but is busier on a regular basis encouraging 6 churches in the area through preaching and discipleship. They represent a total of 120 believers and are all within 80 km of home; 5 have no paid pastor. Japanese believers are known for their timid approach to sharing ones’ faith because of the social cost involved. In one of these tiny churches, 30-year-old Mr. Y recently confessed that he goes to church weekly, but does nothing else connected to his faith, and no one but his mother knows he is a believer outside of this church of 20 people. Rob suggested they pray for one another daily for one month, as that would be something apart from going to church. He did it, and now he has joined a Bible Study, and is hoping to make 1 Peter 3:15 his prayer for outreach. Can he live in such a way that people recognize and ask about his hope? Rob is also involved in a new church plant in our city, and will introduce Discovery Bible Studies as an outreach strategy to two retired pastors and the couple spearheading this church plant beginning in December.

2022 will be our 29th year in Japan. That is over half of our lives. We know we are privileged as we get to participate in what God is doing! We are learning to relate better and spend time wisely with Japanese, and how to share our Jesus with them effectively.  A friend of Kathryn, Mrs. E, visited recently and as we sat on our little deck, she commented that she and her husband would love a deck, but have no time or money to get that done. The wood has been delivered, and this will be the Christmas Rob builds a deck for Japanese friends.

Thank you again for your prayers and support throughout 2021,

Rob & Kathryn Fleming