Did spring even happen?! With the rush of new colleagues finally being able to enter Japan, onboarding and orientation needs and a new school/church year, we almost missed the cherry blossoms!
Thanks to Danny Follmer, one of our new teammates, who got this great close up. It's a reminder that spring did come and God is faithful no matter how full life gets. His beauty still shines through the blur of time. Thanks for your continual prayers and support for our family and the people of Japan!
Time and People May 2022 Update
Recently, Lindsay and I hit a wall in our capacity. While it is a joy to serve, it's been overwhelming to manage everything at times. While we love what we do, we realize we cannot do the work God has called us to alone. Our church plant, Azamino Chapel, has been studying the Book of Exodus in our Creation-to-Christ series. 7 times in Exodus 3:7-14, God says "I" in response to who will rescue the Israelites from Egyptian oppression. Why is this important?
Because it's not me...
No matter how smart, learned, fit, balanced, "put together" we think we look, none of us can do the work God has assigned to us apart from Him. Apart from God's help comes burnout, discouragement and oh yeah...that wall I mentioned earlier.
We're learning (note: not "learned") the critical lesson that God is the One who accomplishes His work. Imagine Moses hearing God's response when asking God how will He accomplish the impossible. God says:
“I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14
What a relief! He is able. And because He is able, we can trust God to give us the time, so we can enjoy the people He has placed in our lives for God's glory.
Azamino Chapel Update
Since we last wrote, Azamino Chapel has met three times for worship - 3/12, 4/9 and 5/14. Each time we gather as a new and forming church, it amazes us how God continues to use the preached Word of God to draw people to Himself. Typically I preach each month, so I was especially grateful to our colleague, Gary Chang, who preached a special message from 1 Corinthians 15 for our Easter service. Also, we had a first-time attendee - Mr. H, friend of the Zodys - our close friends/WorldVenture colleagues. It was his first time to ever come to church. He was especially impressed by the testimony of one of the local believers from Denen Grace Chapel who shared his testimony of saving faith.
Pray for Mr. H. That God would open his heart to Jesus. Pray for Mrs. Y, who comes to church every month and her husband Mr. H who helps me with my garden. Pray for Mrs. K, Mrs. H, Mrs. N, Mrs. F and their families who have been coming to Azamino Chapel off and on. May the Lord draw our precious friends to Himself. Pray for new believers, Mr. T, Mrs. Y and Mrs. K. We are currently thinking of ways we can more frequently gather as believers and be fed more regularly from God's Word. Pray for the children Abigail Zody gets to share Jesus with during Kids Church. May the gospel touch their tender hearts through her teaching. Our next worship service will be June 11th. Thank you for loving the people of Azamino through your prayers!
In late March, three new units joined our Cross Project church planting efforts. We grew from 3 units to 6 units in a 48 hour period! We all come very different backgrounds and places and have spent much time in orientation since their arrival. So, it was only fitting to spend some time away from our lives in the city and get away to Mt. Fuji and get to know one another better. Please pray for Alissa Bauer, Danny & Ray Follmer and the Walker Family (Jeff, Malia, Mason and Kaili). Language learning, house searching and a completely new context are big transitions. As a leadership team we desire to provide a good environment for our new teammates to thrive.
As time goes on in Japan, we're grateful to see our kids make friends in Japan and within our mission. We see them connect with their buddies at school in fluent Japanese and also with other missionary kids in English. We see the TCK (Third Culture Kid) dynamic more and more. While this identity can be difficult to navigate, we're thankful that God has given grace to our children to be able to live in both worlds at this time. Please pray for our children as they grow up as TCKs with unique pressures and challenges, yet with wonderful opportunities and adventure. May God keep their hearts close to His and give us wisdom as parents to love and shepherd them well.
It's been a while since our last update. Our family has felt your prayers and is encouraged by your engagement in what God is doing in and through our family. We want to thank you for all the ways you support our family and ministry. You are a blessing.
With Grateful Hearts,
Justin & Linds,
Clark, Mollie and Bear Mitchell