Friday, May 02, 2014

May Newsletter

May 1, 2014
Newsletter #25

Dear Friends and Family,

We’ve now been at Wakaba Church for over a year, and our ministry responsibilities have gradually increased over that time. Recent highlights have been Keith’s sermon series in Isaiah (next installment is May 11, from Isaiah 11), a Tea Ceremony outreach, Celia’s worship leading at “Sambi Reihai,” our every-other-month Sunday afternoon mostly-music worship service, inclusion of youth from nearby Tonden church at our movie events, and thinking creatively about children’s messages--recently Keith had the children tell the Easter story using pictures.

Christmas party and mini-concert (3 viols!)
Tea Ceremony outreach
Leading worship for Sambi Reihai
Roasting marshmallow peeps with the youth group
Children's message at Easter
Takahashi-sensei's guitar class
Coming up in the near future, Wakaba will start new “Koinonia” small groups. The groups will be led by church members, and the purpose will be fellowship, spiritual growth, and outreach; each group will have a specific outreach focus. The centerpiece of each group will be a Bible study once a month; we will work together with Takahashi-sensei to train the leaders in the Inductive study method (also known as the manuscript discovery method), which we have both found to be helpful for understanding, applying and learning to love the Bible.

It’s our hope that the church members and seekers will be able to enjoy reading the Bible together, and that this experience will draw them closer together and to God, and encourage them to invite others in. However, a wise friend encouraged us to think about ways to include all sorts of people, including those who don’t particularly like studying or reading. Therefore, we’re thinking about providing the groups leaders and members with a wide range of “tools” for reading the Bible.

That’s why we’re looking for suggestions, especially if you would describe yourself as an “active type who doesn’t like reading.” What motivates you to read the Bible? Have there been particular methods of reading or studying the Bible that have worked well for you? Although we believe that God is always near, under what circumstances have you been particularly aware of his presence and leading? We’re eager to hear from you--please email us or leave a comment.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for 2 baptisms at Christmas: Ke and Ko, both second year middle schoolers. Please pray for the spiritual growth of others in the youth group, especially M and T, who probably believe, but have been unable to take steps towards baptism; also for M and A.
  • Please pray for the new “Koinonia” small groups, starting with leader training between now and September. Celia and Takahashi-sensei will lead the training and preparations, while Keith and church members, M, A, and E will lead the groups.
  • Keith’s sermons have increased in frequency, sometimes as often as once a month. Please pray for this to be a joyful learning experience.
  • Celia will play shamisen in 2 concerts in May (6th and 30th). Please pray for Celia’s ongoing fellowship with Christian musicians through these concerts and other opportunities as well.
  • For our ongoing training and preparations for the future. We’re in the last year of our first term; please pray for wisdom for us, for Takahashi-sensei, and for our leadership in OMF as we start to consider what to do in our second term and beyond, and what sort of training we will need for that.
  • Seeker, Mr. K began attending our church in December; his wife sometimes comes as well. Please pray that they will begin to read the Bible.

Financial Update

We have so many reasons to be thankful in Japan, and we want to take time to specifically reflect about our blessings financially as well. When we get our monthly finance statement, we are always humbled by the generosity of so many of you who financially support us. Since our last financial update, however, some of our support has stopped. Over the last 15 months, we have averaged 74% of our total support figure. God’s provision has remained steadfast primarily through a favorable dollar-to-yen exchange rate and reasonably priced housing, so we are doing okay. Please continue to pray with us for 100% support.

Where's the missing article?

Originally, there was more to this newsletter, but some of it we didn't feel we could share publicly. Please let us know if you would like the receive the full version by email.

Language Corner

It’s been more than 3 years since the March 11, 2011 disaster, but the relief effort is ongoing. Please continue to pray!

Thanks for reading!
We’re thankful for each one of you.

Love in Christ, Keith and Celia

On vacation with Celia's family in March
Happy Spring! I'm putting out some new growth!

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