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Japan Missions June 2020 – Still believing for a miracle

Dear friends and partners in the Lord,

As you know, our last few months have been quite a chaos around here. Far from what we imagined for this year! (Read our update on Serenity at the end of this newslettter)

Starting with the unexpected coming of Coronavirus, our church had to close its doors and all activities were halted.

Concerning all the negative things that occurred due to the virus, we believe there is no more need to keep talking about it as news of it are all around us on a daily basis…

Now, the good news is that it has pushed many churches in Japan to go online!

You might think there is nothing special about that. There is, however, if we consider the fact that most Japanese churches seem to take a very conservative approach regarding online activities, including the church where we are currently serving.

Until the quarantine became a norm, we hardly had any presence online. A couple of months before the virus matter, a website was (finally) being built after many meetings and even a couple assemblies with much discussion in order to get it approved. So it was with social network, online streaming and so on. With this we do not want to say it is bad. It is just different than our western culture. Since the quarantine kicked in, however, social networks became more active, as well as initiating live streaming of the service and other meetings that are conducted as a means of outreach. We believe that in the long run, this will broaden the reach of the church! After all, this is a nation that was already using text messaging on a phone for hours a day even before we knew that was possible!

Photo: Ira Block

We had scheduled to make a trip to Nagasaki at the end of May but due to both COVID related travel restrictions and our current situation with our baby, we were unable to do so.

Nevertheless, from July 1 ~ 12, we will be sending Joshua to Nagasaki (if the alert level does not go back up!) where he will be staying at a farm. He will be participating in a “farmstay program”, hopefully enabling him to make some connections and get to know the area. Hopefully, that will be an important connection for our next visit. During these last many weeks, the Lord has expanded our network with missionaries in the country, and even people that are praying/planning to come to serve in Japan. Building network and praying for one another is important in a land like Japan! No one was called to walk alone. (If you are a missionary reading this or you are praying about coming to Japan, get in touch with us!)

Divine Appointment: A couple of weeks ago, a neighbor lady messaged Elizabeth asking her if they could meet. It was definitely a divine appointment, as we had been praying for her, every time we passed by her house. She has many physical, emotional, and spiritual issues, the most serious being schizophrenia, and has been nearly paralyzed in her apartment for the past year. We see the beginning of God’s work in that she reached out at this time! She poured out her heart while Elizabeth listened, and then had the opportunity to share the HOPE that Christ can restore to life. She accepted for Elizabeth to pray for her, and the Presence of the Holy Spirit was felt touching them both. When she was leaving, Elizabeth felt led to say, “I love you”, which is a very un-Japanese thing to do! More surprising yet was when the lady looked her in the eyes, and said in reply, “I love you, too”. WOW! We believe it could only be the move oof the Lord on her life that is drawing her to Him. Please pray for her with us!

Serenity: As you may know, she was born with a rare disease called Biliary Atresia, which affects her liver. She was born without a gallbladder and bile ducts. So basically they had to reconstruct the “flow system” for the bile to flow out of the liver, which is not a healthy liver to start with. We’ve had lots and lots of ups and downs before, during, and after the surgery. We prayed and prayed and many of you did too! Well, last  Friday we had that “frightening” appointment with the liver transplant surgeon and to our surprise, he said her liver does not look too bad and there is still a possibility that she would be able to grow up with her native liver! He still went on to explain all about the transplant process and all that is involved. Still, we believe the Lord is at work. You can read the details about our visit to the surgeon last  Friday  here:

• We have been keeping healthy for the most part;
• In the midst of all that is happening in the world and our family, our family is staying good;
• God has brought some gracious people to provide help with our kids a few times;
• Serenity is feeding well and is experiencing no pain or discomfort. Despite all she’s going through, she is always so happy;
• Our church is moving “outside the walls” via online tools;
• Serenity, Serenity, Serenity.
Regardless of the end result, we continue to fervently pray in full faith that He is able to make all things new. Our hardship was a mix of her condition with emotional distress, physical illness and spiritual battles. Besides all that, quarantine made everything worse, school and church activities were paused and our children were demanding more attention.  And yet, after all these weeks of deep internal turmoil, we see how He has been using all this to strengthen our inner man, bring us closer, produce perseverance, form Christ in us and prepare us for the great task we have ahead of us. We thank you for all your messages, love and prayers. He is at work. He is at work.
“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” Psalm 144:1

“…My Spirit remains among you; do not be afraid.”  Haggai 2:5

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2~4