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I grew up singing hymns. You know, the songs with four verses and a chorus in a red book found in the rack of the pew in front of you. In months with five Sundays, the evening service would include a hymn sing, with people calling out their favorites. One I always hoped someone would choose is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” In the past few months, I have been reminded of God’s great faithfulness to me, to his church, and to his children.
When I sent out my last newsletter, the family of NAB missionaries from around the world had just gathered for our first retreat. We spent a week together in Rome fellowshipping, sightseeing, praying, and resting. What a privilege to hear stories of God’s faithfulness around the world.
Once a month or so, several missionary friends and I gather in downtown Osaka, sort of a central location, for a morning of breakfast and fellowship. We first started meeting at a bagel shop – bagels are hard to come by here! We met there for many years. Then, suddenly, one day when we arrived, the shop was closed. We found a bakery close by and started meeting there. One of the ladies who worked there started to recognize us and always greeted us with a smile and joyful, “Good morning!” When we arrived in July, she was not quite as joyful as usual and broke the news to us that the bakery was closing at the end of the month. We are sad not only that we will, once again, need to find a new place to meet, but more importantly, will not get to see our friend regularly. We pray that our love for Jesus was shining through us and he will be faithful in growing the seeds that have been planted.
It has been a long three years since we were able to have our first ladies’ seminar in another region of the Japan Baptist Conference. Finally, in June, Yuri and I were able to travel to Aichi Prefecture to lead a seminar with three churches in the area. We are grateful for God’s faithfulness in keeping the hearts of the ladies open to studying together again and in helping Yuri and me to facilitate the study for the day.
We were also able to lead the next ladies’ seminar at Komyo Christian Church in July. For various reasons, several of the ladies who usually attend were not able to join us; however, even with a small group we had a good time of study and fellowship. Our theme was “What are spiritual disciplines?” We look forward to hearing about how the ladies experience God’s faithfulness as they try some different ways to pray.
God’s faithfulness in the youth ministry continues to encourage and inspire me. In June, we had the joy of two students and the pastor of another JBC church join us for our monthly YEAH! meeting. The church is about an hour away, but they willingly came to southern Osaka to join us. They also came to the Ewings’ thank you party, sang two songs, and helped in any way needed. It is a joy for me to watch the students working together, learning to fellowship and encourage one another.
God has been faithful in leading his church here in Japan. It has been a joy to be part of the life of Komyo Christian Church with Paul and Melissa Ewing and their family. In July, we had a lovely celebration of God’s faithfulness in their lives and the way they have intersected with the life of Komyo Church. We gathered to sing praises and to give God glory for all he has done, sharing testimonies, laughs, and a few tears.
As the Ewings have returned to the US for a year of home assignment, our team in Japan has halved in size. With technology, these days we are able to continue meeting together; however, it does also provide challenges! We are grateful for God’s faithfulness in bonding us together as a team and sustaining us. We are also looking to the future and praying about how God might be planning to expand our team.
Thank you for being part of what God is doing here in Japan and celebrating his faithfulness with me.
Soli Deo Gloria