We have been in Tokyo for just over half a year, have seen God at work confirming the decision to move here, and granting continued smooth transition from Ibaraki, where we lived for over 20 years.
Julia(16) has made the transition to English high school in Japan really well, loves all the sports (varsity volleyball, basketball, and soccer), and new friends. She also manages to find time to attend grade 10 classes at Christian Academy in Japan.
We have settled into attending Kiyose Evangelical Free Church, a Japanese church 15 minutes from our apartment. Kath and Julia attend every week, while Rob is away preaching somewhere 1 or 2 Sundays a month in the mornings. Saturday evenings and Sunday nights find Rob speaking at a Tokyo church plant about twice a month as well. While there are many churches in the Tokyo area to cooperate with, Rob is focusing in on working with 3 or 4 that have a church planting dream, but need some help turning that dream into a reality. Mentoring new church planters, and encouraging established churches to plant new ones is a real need in our new neighbourhood of 40 million people.
Kathryn is continuing to exercise her gift of reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus, and is already meeting regularly with Tokyo women who need Jesus. Also, some suddenly grown up kids from our house church in Hitachinaka are moving to Tokyo for university…Yuuki, Hitomi, Hikari; All Oasis veterans who came to faith in junior high, and now we have a chance to disciple them more as they have moved to Tokyo.
We will be coming to Canada for June/July, mostly motivated by our oldest daughter Tess, as she gets married to Jacob Winter on June 11. Most Sundays will be spent with supporting churches in Ontario. While the Sundays are booked already according to our travel schedule, we would love to make time to visit with you during the week as well. Let us know if something other that a Sunday morning will work for you, according to the following schedule: Most of June, we will be in Southern Ontario, Late June/early July will be spent in Northern Ontario, and mid-end of July will find us in Southern Ontario again. Please feel free to contact us by responding to this email, if you would like to get together!
Thankful for your continued prayer and financial support!
Rob & Kathryn.
When we moved to Tokyo five months ago, our initial focus was on…ourselves…Finding an apartment, moving in, buying a car, jumping through hoops to set up a Tokyo life as far as required health insurance, government “stuff”, learning the trains, and getting Julia settled into life at Christian Academy of Japan.
One thing we did not anticipate, was the difference between a peaceful country life among 1 million people, and Tokyo, a city of 40 million. Coming home from the gym one evening my (Rob’s) train was delayed 15 minutes, as Japan Railroad Co. did whatever they do to quickly clean up after a “jump” suicide. Our new Tokyo friends tell us to get used to delays, as they are routine. The Japanese in Tokyo need to meet Jesus.
What have we to say for ourselves after five months? Well, we are moved in. I miss my country vegetable garden, but have tried to enjoy green beans and spinach, grown on our 5th floor balcony. Julia has finished volleyball and moved onto varsity basketball. Kath and I have learned, and are enjoying the fact that a car is not very useful in Tokyo. Walking, trains(except…see above), and especially bicycles, are a much more efficient, and healthier way to get around.
Ministry? We came to Tokyo with a blank slate…We didn’t know that God would use Kathryn as a hospice nurse and part of a care team to help our missionary friend, Bola Taylor, die peacefully at home of ovarian cancer. We are with Fellowship International, but in Japan we partner with the Conservative Baptists from the USA. If you want to be inspired by a life well lived, click on this article. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-joseph/how-to-livehow-to-die- sin_b_8126242.html We will miss Bola. Please see the link and pray for the Taylor family
We are making progress as far as discerning God’s purpose for us in Tokyo. I (Rob) have visited about a dozen churches in Tokyo with a hope of forming ministry partnerships, and have been preaching in Ibaraki regularly, where we lived for 20 years. I have had a few opportunities to help out in some Tokyo based church plants as well.
Kathryn has been doing what she does so well. Our new home is becoming a place where people feel welcome to learn about Jesus. She is connecting with Japanese unbelievers. Pray for Mika, a new friend who is interested in learning more of Jesus. Pray also for Hitomi. You may remember her. What follows is a rather lengthy explanation that will enable you to pray for Hitomi, but also understand what we are trying to establish here in Tokyo. Here goes.
We befriended Noriko Kurosawa in Hitachi 15 years ago. She became a believer in our living room, and quickly grew as a new Christian. As a private English teacher, she shared her faith with her young students. Many of them came to our house church, Oasis, to learn more. Hitomi began coming as a ten year old and believed in Jesus, but her Buddhist parents did not want her to be baptized. Hitomi is now a university student in Tokyo, about 45 minutes by train away from us. Kath is meeting her weekly to study the Bible, and encourage her towards both Baptism, and reaching out to her university friends, who already know she is a Christian.
It was difficult, after over 20 years, to leave all that was familiar in Ibaraki and move to Tokyo. Pray with us as we continue to ask God to make us useful as church planters in Tokyo. We are confident He will lead us in evangelism and discipling Japanese. We are also asking God for a church planting partnership, in which we could see new believers become a part of a community of faith.
So many thanks for your sacrificial gifts this year. We have needed a little more because of moving to Tokyo, but our “mission finances” have not been a worry.
Gratefully, Rob & Kathryn Fleming
It has been two months since we said our goodbyes to Canada, and flew to Tokyo to begin new ministry in this massive city. We spent the better part of our first month searching for an apartment that would afford Julia a reasonable commute to Christian Academy of Japan for her grade 10 year. We found a nice place, a short train ride and a bit of a walk gets Julia to school in about 20 minutes!
We have retrieved most of our “earthly belongings” from Ibaraki, two hours to the north of Tokyo, and our home for the past 20 years or so. Moving from a “house in the country” to an apartment in Tokyo is by definition, “downsizing”, but we are enjoying the view from 5 floors up. (On clear days we can see Mt. Fuji, Japan’s famous volcano.)
We are moved in and Julia has started school, enjoying life in her new international setting and especially the volleyball team. Grady (19), who was working in Tokyo for the summer as a translator, returned to Toronto for his second year at U of T last week. Tess(22) has moved to London, where she will study at Western University.
Having physically settled in somewhat, Kathryn and I are turning our attention to various ministry opportunities that God has been gradually revealing. We would like to be involved in a church plant, and are looking to cooperate with a church plant already in progress, rather than start from scratch. Fortunately, there are far more options in a city of 40 million than there were in Ibaraki where we mostly worked on our own. Pray with us, that in the coming weeks, God would make clear where He would have us invest the evangelistic/discipling/leadership gifts that he has given us. There are options to work with other missionaries from several different countries, as well as Japanese nationals seeking to plant new churches here in Tokyo.
We have moved to Tokyo, but still have many connections to our “spiritual kids” to the north in Ibaraki. One of them, Noriko, came to faith 15 years ago in our living room, and has become a real soul winner. She recently sent us this email about her ministry. Keep in mind that Shuya is Noriko’s brother with whom she lives, and he IS NOT YET A BELIEVER. Her story in her own English…
Hi Kathryn, I miss you so much. I’m really excited to seeing you soon! When you need my help, please ask meJ Shuya and I are ready for helping your new life in Japan. Shuya and I got a new friend who is the best amateur golf player in Ibaraki. Shuya is a fan of him. We had a chance to practice golf together. When we practice together, suddenly he started to talk about Jesus. He read a book about Jesus. He had so many questions about Christ. So I told him I’m a Christian. We often talk about God together. Shuya listens to our conversation. It’s so interesting. God is approaching Shuya in an interesting way.
Then a few days later, this update from Noriko:
Shuya and I often see the man. When we practiced today, he came to say hi. He stopped and started talking about his worries for a while. He told me his sin too. Shuya is interesting… He asked the man, “Do you want to be a Christian? I don’t believe in any god but Christ is awesome. He changed my sister’s life completely.” Ha! I told David’s story to him from the Old Testament. He is really interested in that story.I promised him to give manga Mutiny, Melech and Messiah.(comic form Bible books we use in Japan) Wow wow wow. God uses me a lot now!!! I’m so excited.
We are excited with you, Noriko! Noriko is not only trying to help this golfer become a believer, she is trying to reach her brother, Shuya, as well. God is also using Shuya, who is not yet a believer, to witness for Jesus! Pray that God would lead us to people like Noriko in Tokyo, who will come to know Christ, and then reach other Japanese for Him. Pray that we will be able to influence some churches in Tokyo to reach out to people like Noriko, and disciple them to become real spiritual leaders for Jesus in Japan. We have so many good memories of our home assignment last year, and are thankful to God for providing for us in so many ways in Canada last year where we were , “strangers in a strange land!”. Thanks to so many churches, friends, and family who made us feel so much at home last year (you know who you are!)
Gratefully, Rob and Kathryn
Greetings from Victoria, British Colombia.
After visiting with Central Baptist in Victoria today, Kath, Julia and I will fly to Tokyo. Since 1994 we have always headed north from the airport in Tokyo, but this time we will take a short trip Southeast, where the next leg in our Japanese life will begin.
Our task for the rest of the summer will be to get Julia started in grade 10 at Christian Academy of Japan in Tokyo, find an apartment within commuting distance of the school, move from Hitachinaka (3 hours north), and begin exploring ministry options in Tokyo.
We will still be involved in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. Our commitment to Tokyo is a minimum of three years. There are 40 million people in the greater Tokyo area, and many churches with which to partner.
We are leaving Tess in Waterloo, who will move to London to attend Western University in London come September, and join Grady in Tokyo, where he is working for a translating company for the summer, before he returns to U of Toronto in September. We have been blessed to have had quite a bit of time with all our kids during 2014-2015, but have trouble keeping up with their travels!
Thank you for your prayers this past year. It has been so good to see so many of our churches, friends and family this year. Use the information above as fuel for prayer! We have some big transitions to make in the next two months, as do all three of the kids.
Pray also that all our moves would end up more successfully than my (Rob) recent trip to Timmins! I had a great time with friends, family and two churches, caught too many fish to eat, but also met a moose on the highway. She and the SUV (picture provided below) didn’t survive the encounter, but I was unhurt. Please pray our flight to Tokyo would be far less interesting.
Rob and Kathryn.
Greetings, once more from Waterloo!
On July 1st Kathryn, Julia, and I will catch a flight from Pearson Airport, and eventually end up at Narita Airport near Tokyo. However, plenty of details will need to be filled in before we finish what has been an important year of our lives, and our first full year in Canada in a very long time. We are so thankful for all the visits we have been able to enjoy in the past 10 months with churches, family, and friends. If you have been “missed”, and would like to touch base with us, we probably feel the same way! Please let us know in the next few days as far as the where and when, as we might be able to meet together. Below is our schedule until we leave for Japan in July. By the end of June we will have driven over 85,000 km for “deputation duties” and “life” during our year in Canada. Two rather elderly vehicles, generously made available to us for this year by good friends (thank you so much Holmes and Hongs!), will be happy to see us return to Japan so that they can get a little rest! By the end of June, we will need to clean out our rented Waterloo townhouse. We settled in Waterloo this year to live with Tess, and also had Grady (U of Toronto) near enough to be together as a family for some of the year. It has been a blessing that we will not forget.
Tess, after working for the summer in Waterloo will continue school, either in London or Hamilton come September. She came home after a recent “Picnic” with her boyfriend, Jacob Winter, with a ring on her finger and a grin on her face. We will make a trip home for a wedding next summer (2016) Ha! Grady will spend this summer working three months in Tokyo translating and interpreting, before continuing at U of T in September. He is taking his time getting to Tokyo, with stops in Seattle, Vancouver, and Seoul! Julia will enroll at Tokyo’s Christian Academy of Japan (CAJ) in August for grade 10. We will return to Japan July 6 from Vancouver and search for a Japanese style (ie. Tiny) apartment in Tokyo near CAJ.
We have spent over 20 years church planting in northern Japan, and moving to Tokyo for this three year commitment is a significant change for us. We have always lived in a small rural city, where there are very few churches and almost no western expats. We will move to a city of 40 million people, with and a greater Christian presence. We have always enjoyed living in a house and weeding the backyard garden. Tokyo means a small Japanese apartment in a big building. We will spend our first few months discovering what ministry God has in store for us. We have been blessed to see a fruitful church planting ministry, focusing on evangelism and discipleship, with the goal of seeing our converts going on to become soul winners in Japan. There are churches in Tokyo that we would like to cooperate with. Over 95% of Japanese believers never get around to sharing their faith with anyone. We are praying that God would lead us to more “good fruit” during the next three years.
Pray for us. Our travels over the past 10 months have taught us an important lesson. Many of you have been praying for us; some daily! Your prayers keep us in Japan, effectively reaching out to people there. As we transition back to Japan in July, please pray. We need to settle as a family of three in Tokyo, while Grady and Tess resume their studies in Canada. Pray for wisdom from God to make good life/work decisions that will affect us for at least the next three years, and pray that God would impact many in Tokyo for eternity.
We have been slowly learning Psalm 16 as a family this summer as we anticipate many changes and separation again.
“Keep me safe oh God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, You are my Lord; Apart from you I have nothing good.” Amen
Please keep us prayed for in these next few months.
Rob and Kathryn.
Fellowship International, Box 457, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1H 6K9. 519-821-4830