Perhapssurprisedis a feeling you've had lately toward all that has happened in the world in recent days. Clark was rather surprisedthe other day on our hike up Mt. Takao on the west side of Tokyo. On our descent, is a massive Buddhist temple nestled into the Takao forest. One must walk through the temple grounds in order to continue to the bottom of the mountain. Passing by the religious imagery, large Buddhist temple facilities and idols, my curious 6-year old asked:
"Who believes in these things?"
We took some time to talk through how there are many religions beyond our Christian faith. Japan is by and large nominally Buddhist and/or Shinto in belief. Roughly 99% of Japanese adhere to one of these faith systems or a combination.
I explained to Clark, "This is why our family came to Japan."
Needless to say, there were several follow up questions about Buddhism. Of course, I was able to answer every single question with ease (ha!). We finished our walk through the temple and saw all of these wooden boards lining the exit. Listed are names of those who have given to support the temple and its functioning.
"Do all these people believe in these other gods?" he asked.
All of this was quite surprisingfor him. It was for me, too, when I first visited Japan 13 years ago.
"We need to tell them about Jesus," Clark declared.
Day-by-day, God graciously provides friendships to invest in, people to love and opportunities to share a surprisingreality for many Japanese.
God loves them. He sent Jesus to display that perfect love that we all seek.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
This indeed is asurprisingtruth for people seeking to be good enough; to have enough good deeds to outweigh the bad; to find hope and peace in this world. Thesurprisingtruth is, we cannot be good enough. Our good deeds are no payment for the sin that separates us from a holy God. Faith in Christ and His death for man's sin is the only thing that can bring true hope and peace. For many Japanese, they have never heard these truths.
Read below for an update on how the Lord is providing many opportunities to share thesesurprisingtruths for God's Glory in Japan!
Reaching the Moms - Maintaining Connection
It's been fun to see Lindsay in her element. God has provided three Japanese Christians for Lindsay to befriend. They began having Bible Study and soon the group saw two more join. These two are not Christians. The last few years these ladies have been introduced to Jesus using Discovery Bible Studystudying Creation-to-Christ. Once quarantine hit, Linds wondered how the group would respond.Surprisingly Mrs. F, who is not a Christian and one of the newer members of the group, said "Let's continue over Zoom!" What asurprise! Linds took a break from her normal study and conducted a DBS through the Psalms. It was so encouraging to hear this group's "I will..." statements at the conclusion of their times together. To see God's work in this group's lives is truly remarkable. Please pray for these ladies. For Mrs. C, Mrs. K and Mrs. M - that Jesus would shine through their lives. For Mrs. F and Mrs. H - pray that God would save them.
These Times Call for Different Ways of Outreach!
From 3/29 to the present our mother church and Japanese partners, Denen Grace Chapel have not met for worship in person. Meeting over Zoom these last dozen weeks is great, but it's quite limited. In an attempt to continue encouraging this body of believers virtually, I began reading the Jesus Storybook Biblein Japanese and posting the links on YouTube for our members. But, Linds asked, "Why stop there?" Of course the original intent was to encourage church members. But, what about those we're reaching out to in our neighborhood - the site of a future church plant. We began texting our contacts, most of whom are not Christians, and much to our surprisethey expressed a desire to receive the weekly video links. Remember my running buddy, Mr. K? Even he was enthusiastic to receive these videos! Dozens of Japanese are now learning how God loves them and has a special rescue plan through His Son, Jesus Christ. Feel free to view the one here titled "真っ赤なうそ" (The Terrible Lie) which details the origins of sin. Click on the photo above orhereto view. Please pray as God continues this online ministry along with our virtual worship gatherings and other forms of online ministry for the building of His church and salvation of many!
Putting It All Together
It is our sincere desire in partnership with you to plant two gospel-centered and multiplying churches out of Denen Grace Chapel in 2020. This was our intent back in April, yet this plan was one of many plans that was placed on the back-burner as a result of the pandemic. It seems the time is near for these initiatives to be pursued again. How exciting! Both Azamino and Musashi-Kosugi worship gatherings are scheduled for late July. Please pray!
For those that we mentioned above - Mrs. C, Mrs. K, Mrs. M, Mrs. F, Mrs. H and their husbands and children along with Mrs. M who is still meeting with us for monthly Bible Study as well as Mr. Y and Mr. S and their families we connect with at the nearby parks - we desire in the years to come that Jesus would establish His church here in Yokohama through these families. We aim to support our teammates and their new church plant in Kawasaki while encouraging greater outreach amongst the brothers and sisters at Denen Grace Chapel. Please pray for these precious people. More than anything, they have become our friends. For most they've become like family. We love them deeply. And we desire for them to know the Father's love. How beautiful would it be for these men, women and children to believe in thesurprisingtruth that we can be free from sin and free in Jesus! Please pray.
We Have a Need You Can Meet...RIGHT NOW!
At the close of 2019, we encouraged you to consider coming to Japan yourselves to support the work of this church planting vision. Click hereto see that again.We have a need...RIGHT NOW...for someone who can commit to 2 years (ideally) of mid-term service in teaching English to those that live around where Denen Grace Chapel is located.We have a facility to work out of, a group of terrific Japanese Christians to partner with and model ministry for as well as a team of missionaries for fellowship and support. Community Japanese classes are available and your ministry can begin right away! This accomplishes three main things:
Meeting afelt need in learning English from a native English speakerwho lives nearby.
Supports career missionariesin allowing for greater focus in new church planting work.
Providesfirst-hand ministry experience and missions exposurefor the participant.
If you or somebody you know may be interested in an opportunity to reach Japan with the gospel of Jesus Christ through English & friendship ministry, please contact us and also view a job description by clicking the button below.
March, April and May were tough months as we were mostly shut-in during the height of COVID-19. Keeping the little Mitchells busy was a challenge as the normal April-March school year was delayed. God was kind to give us much family time...though not always easy! God was gracious.
Coronavirus cases saw a massive decline here in Japan and as a result schools and businesses have gradually reopened in June. Clark is 6 weeks into first grade at the local Japanese school. Mollie goes gleefully to kindergarten each day. And Bear endures the rainy season with mom and dad and their ministries each day. We have our hard days as foreigners living in a foreign land, but by God's grace, each of the little Mitchells are doing well. We are also excited about getting away as a family with fellow workers of our's in the mountains of West Japan in early August. But before that we are thrilled to have a night away as husband/wife in mid-July as we celebrate 10 years of marriage. The beach is calling our names! Please pray for regular times of refreshment as we seek to honor God in our marriage and our roles as Mom & Dad.
Our mailing address is:
2-4-12-1 Edanishi, Aoba-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan 225-0014 Our email address:email@example.com Skype Phone Number: 434-473-6304 Website/Blog:www.GodsGloryinJapan.com