HoG (House of Grace, the new church plant on the west side of town, and yes, I’ll probably adopt this delightful acronym) has restarted in person services! This past Sunday, Aki and I attended the afternoon service, which featured one zoom attendee, and two school teachers, along with missionaries. It was a great time of fellowship, and amazing just how refreshing that can be to an extrovert who has been quarantined for months. I hate social distancing and I want it to go away forever. That’s probably not going to happen, but at least we are able to minister to people face to face again. It looks like I’ll also be preaching at both Kodaira Chapel and the HoG (delightful acronym for House of Grace church plant) perhaps in the Summer and certainly by Autumn. I’ve also been able to preach via Zoom at the church in Tochigi twice recently, hopefully the next time I do that I’ll be able to do it again in person!
Concerning local ministry, our family is in a sort of unique situation, in that the easiest way to do ministry in these times is to continue with old acquaintances. In our case, we moved an hour and a half north about a month before schools closed here, so we don’t have a lot of pre-existing local relationships to work with.
However, Leon (8 years old) has already made some new school friends, one of which has played at our house a couple of times already; his mom and Maki have also started chatting about kids and some of the challenges of raising children, deeper than superficial stuff, which is great. Also, Leon told us he really wants to go fishing, and the neighbors near the HoG (House of Grace, delightful acronym imho) have offered to take us out when they go, which would be another connection between that family and the new church plant (as friendly neighbors they helped in the kitchen during the church grand opening, but they don’t attend services). There are other new relationships that are just getting started in the neighborhood that we hope lead to enough trust to wade into spiritual matters. Please pray to that end!
We are considering other ideas, among them Kids English both at our church (the sister/mother church of HoG, on the opposite end of town) and possibly at an orphanage type of facility which is a short walk from our home. We’ve thought about flyering the neighborhood, but want to be respectful of laws and also think about the best way to put forth a positive message in that format. Still brainstorming that along with other ideas. Please pray for our growing witness in this new town even in this really difficult 2020.
Prep and Communication
Pandemic aside, the past few months in our new town have been a big blessing. The stresses and problems from living in Kawasaki (largely stemming from our kids’ school and bullying experiences) are a thing of the past. Each of our three kids that are in schools love their schools, and kids have been much healthier in basically every way, this is a huge weight off our shoulders as parents trying to do ministry. During this time we have grown closer with fellow on-field missionaries at the two local church ministries from our cooperating on-field mission group, JBF. Though the process has been slowed by the pandemic, we are looking to be officially connected with the two local sister churches as cooperating missionaries over the summer. This is particularly timely because the lead pastor at the mother church on the West side of town will be going on sabbatical for a year in Korea beginning in the Fall. Seeing as this church is very small, being able to step in and assist with regular functions as well as start some new outreach programs should be a big shot in the arm for local ministry. To that end we are in communication with networked leadership. Please pray for smooth and timely progress in that area!