Just One More Soul

Then the master said to the servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”. (Luke 14)


Blossoming Trees at Green Park

Winter is finally starting to wane here, and with it, the bitter cold nights (and days). The temperatures only go as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit or so, but there are a couple of factors that make cold’s effects more pervious. We are literally surrounded by water, live about 25 minutes from the ocean, and with the lack of westernized heating, it can be a task just to use the toilet in the next room! A majority of the space in living and work areas are usually not conditioned in the winter or summer, leaving sometimes a huge temperature difference between rooms. Even after a certain time of the evening, if workers aren’t done working yet, bosses will completely turn off the conditioning, forcing employees to work faster in sometimes difficult conditions. Actually, that’s one thing I wanted to mention in this month’s post.


The Japanese have an incredible work ethic – certainly the greatest I know of in the world. They rarely allow idleatry into their lives; laziness and selfishness as extremely frowned upon. Mia and Hannah have both been sick recently, so I needed to postpone an evening class this past week. This was such a big deal, that Hiroko personally contacted the company’s manager to make an apology, and I also made a formal one in person. Hiroko fell in a convenience store a little while ago and also recently slipped a disk in her back, but has refused to stop working even though she can hardly sit down. Moriai, my Japanese counterpart, has spent a few nights this past month almost entirely without sleep because of work. While the ethic is very admirable, it is also extremely hazardous. Many employees are expected to work six days a week, and over 12 hours a day.


Fencing to help prohibit suicide jumping.

Moreover, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Recently, a man who worked for a well-known company committed suicide. The authorities declared it “death from overwork” – and this is not an unusual occurrence. There is a forest named あおきがはら (aokigahara) at the base of the famous Mt. Fuji, and is nicknamed the “Suicide Forest”, where hundreds of people a year go to end their lives. Japan as a whole, has almost 10 people commit suicide every day. The country has been taking measures to lower the “workaholic” situation, but it isn’t working. They even started a new initiative recently called “Premium Friday”, where workers are expected to go home early on the last Friday of each month. This past Friday I was in a supermarket and they were advertising this over the loud speakers. I asked one of the clerks how they liked it – she responded, “oh, unfortunately, we don’t do that”. I have gotten that response from every person I’ve spoken to in Japan about it.


Perhaps somewhat correlated, many young people in Japan don’t want to get married, and the country has acknowledged that is now in a population crisis as a result. Marriage is practically treated as a handicap (even in our situation), and the family relationship that we know is almost unheard-of in Japan. I have a class of older ladies that I teach, and when discussing the topic of “Premium Friday” as an English lesson, we discussed the pros and cons of being a workaholic. One of their answers was that the husband is never home; he has to spend a majority of his time away from his family and can’t even eat together with them. I was surprised by this answer, but not because it was a con, but because it was a pro. On top of it, they unanimously agreed and further elaborated. They all explained how the family is more like a pragmatic relationship than an affectionate one, and how the marriage relationship is more of a negative burden than anything – it gets in their way. Despite their general acknowledgment of this problem, they are still stuck in a cycle of life with no purpose or goal that they cannot get freedom from. This is a big obstacle for us to break through, but “if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed”. Please continue to pray for their hearts to be opened.


Many past missionaries have stated throughout time that Japan is different from other mission fields. The Japanese are persistent, isolated, and driven in their work-related goals. This is extremely true. It is so true, in fact, that it is not rare to be “cut-off” by a Japanese person, both in person (like at a store) or in a vehicle, and they not even notice (this is something that still perplexes us both)! Therefore, missionaries have proposed that you cannot publically reach-out with out-reach ministries, but must take a different approach, to show them Christ. We’ve been told that preaching and traditional, Bible-based methods “just don’t work”.


We’ve prayed about and considered this thought for some time. Against my feelings, I couldn’t help but agree. Even the apostle Paul became like who he ministered to (I Cor 9:19-22). So we’ve conceded to the thought that we cannot reach many for Christ in traditional ways, but must slowly, reach the few through personal relationships. However, with somewhat better Japanese and the coming of Spring, the Lord has given a couple of opportunities to witness to children. It was enlivening. It was refreshing. It was also terribly burdening. Several times thoughts have come to me in prayer about the many that we “cannot reach”. It’s been said that if we try to reach those that we don’t first have a strong relationship with, that it will be a waste of time, and probably not work. This has never stopped bothering me, until a recent conversation Mia and I had.


It may be fact that 98% of the country is on their way to hell without Christ. It may be fact that a majority of our efforts will return unfruitful. It may also be fact that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matt 19), but does that mean we ignore the rich? Absolutely not. It is also true that, “if you shoot for nothing you will get it every time”. If we focus on only our influence on our inner-circle of people, the otter-circle will never hear. But if we obey God’s command to “preach the gospel to every creature”, the Word of God will not return unto him void. If we spend a lifetime in “our father’s business”, and only one or two people ever accept Christ as their Lord, is that a “waste of time”? Men look “on the outward appearance”, and “mega churches” fill the globe. But God is not concerned about numbers. As in the tale of Gideon, or Saul, or when David numbered the people, and it was treated as sin against the Lord; we cannot concern ourselves with the outward probability of “success”. Many a missionary have left Japan discouraged because of the lack of visible fruit, but if God’s Spirit is working on a person’s heart, does it matter what culture or statistics say? Is not God able to break through any barrier, no matter how strong? As we receive courage, we hope that you too will be encouraged to do what you can to actively tell others about Christ, no matter what you see or don’t see. God is pleased to see his children love and serve him. We must leave the results to God.


I have been so grieved lately about seeing people in the park, or elsewhere, conversing with them, and them leaving without sharing the hope of the gospel at all, afraid of what nearly everyone says will be the expected result. I remember walking away from a particular group of young people thinking, “I didn’t witness to them, and now probably no one else in the world will, either”. In Japan it’s really true – if you don’t do it, no one else will – because there is no one else. From this point on we’ve decided to disagree with what statistics say, and do what we can to reach them, even if “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life”. Though, without denying that Japan needs a difference approach, I’ve been asking God for just the right thing. Though the Japanese people may be closed for the most part, they have a large interest in English. Children are especially excited to try their hand at what they know when they see us. It’s not uncommon to hear an enthusiastic “HAlow!!!”, when passing a group of boys or girls.  Young adults and families, too, are intrigued to interact with a foreign speaker. A gospel tract from my youth came to my mind. It was a very simple and tiny booklet entitled, “Smile! God loves you!”, with nothing but a yellow smiley on the front. Each page contained either a spiritual thought or Bible verse. So I prayed and asked God to clearly show me the way if it was his will as I began to search for this long-lost tract. It turns out that it’s been out-of-print for five years, but during my search I came across something different – “Motion Tracts”.

Motion Tract: Is Sin Separating You From God?

Motion Tracts use what’s called lenticular printing. You’ve probably seen something like it on advertising materials or different things, but it is a great idea for portraying a short gospel message while teaching a couple of English words like Sin, Separate, Death, and Life. We contacted the company that makes these, and it looks like it was the perfect timing, for a few reasons. We are currently waiting for the company to receive a shipment of several brand new types of these tracts in the next week or so for us to review, and it looks like we have a green light to order them in a couple of weeks. We are extremely excited to start using these, and we ask for your prayers for wisdom, and for the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts of people to receive them.


This has already been a long post, but we thank you so much for your support and your time to read it. I would also like to solicit your prayers for Hannah. Mia and Hannah have both gotten sick recently, but Hannah has something more. She has, what we’ve believe to be whooping cough, for the last two+ months, but it isn’t getting better as expected.  We took her to a doctor and got medicine, but it doesn’t seem to be helping. At brief times she actually has difficulty breathing after sometimes a long bout of coughing, and it doesn’t seem to be the traditional things that most have considered. We’ve been recommended to take her to a specialist if it doesn’t get better once the medicine is used-up in a couple more days. Thank you for your prayers for her, as well!


Again, blessings to you as you serve the Lord where you are, and if you need prayer for anything as well, please let us know here, on Facebook, by phone, e-mail, or however!


“If just one more soul were to walk down the aisle, it’ll be worth every struggle, it’ll be worth every mile. A life time of labor is still worth it all if it rescues just one more soul!”

All Things To All Men

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier”. –II Tim 2:4


The above verse is verse significant to me, as it was a point of Scripture that the Lord first used to dramatically change my spiritual path a few years ago. It was from that starting point that I believe the Holy Spirit did a great work in the life of my family, as well as in another close family. This world is all about temptation, and for a Christian to go on a single day without this on his/her mind is like a soldier forgetting that there may be enemies along his path. The Lord reminded me of this verse today, and it reminded me of where to keep my focus, of which I am thankful. Certainly, our Lord is a God that “keeps your foot from falling”, and knows our needs. The mission field has already taught me and Mia about how God can use totally different ways and ideas to minister, of which we need to be open-minded to, but also to not allow anything to become a stumbling-block for anyone, including ourselves. While praying I wanted to ask the Lord to send soldiers to reach the lost in Fukui, but then had to stop and realize who WE are. WE are the soldiers, and it is up to US to do the work. May we never forgot our role in the Lord’s kingdom, and always rely on the Lord for the strength and equipping that we need to reach the lost. Well anyway, I felt led to share that and I hope it encourages you, as it has me. But I’ll get on with the updates.


Sheffey, created by Bob Jones University. Highly recommended to any christian.

Recently, a new way of reaching-out to my students has been by use of holidays – Western ones. Many Japanese are interested in Western culture, and to share some of the history of certain holidays (Valentines, Easter, Christmas, etc), is becoming quite an open door. In particular, Eigetsu-san, my (now) one-on-one adult student, is still increasingly open to discussions about the Lord. Also, just like Mia and I have been able to use Japanese media sources to supplement our learning, I have also been able to use English media recently in my classes. Eigetsu has shown a lot of interest in Robert Sheffey, an American circuit-riding preacher from the 1800`s, who was known for his extraordinarily answered prayers. I am hoping we can get a copy of the movie and book, Sheffey and Brother Sheffey, respectively, over here soon to utilize, as printable material is hard to come by. Please continue to pray for Eigetsu-san’s salvation!


The weather here is making its first attempts to change to the warmer, spring weather, and Hannah and I got to take a bike ride during a peak chance of warm (enough) weather last week. On the way home, there were about half a dozen or so of some young school students, just finishing school and gathering in the park nearby. It didn’t stand out to me much at the time, but I had to leave for another set of classes shortly after that, and noticed them again while starting to drive away from our apartment. I felt led to witness to them, and I’m very glad I listened! I had extra rice sweets that had been  prepared for my class that evening, and so I pulled the car over and got their attention. I was able to offer them each a snack, as well as gospel tracts. It sounds funny for me to say, but they were kind of in awe of a foreigner suddenly talking to them. I shared a small bit about what the tracts were about, and when I mentioned that they were about Jesus, one of them said, “Kiristo?”, acknowledging who I was talking about. We shared names, and soon after said goodbye. This may have not been much, but it was a milestone for us, as this was a first solo Japanese witnessing conversation, and it was extremely encouraging for me. My heart almost breaks sometime when I see all of the children walking home and thinking that probably not a single one of them knows the Lord. It is a wonderful thing to start seeing our language progress slowly catch-up to our burden.

Tomoka Kawahara playing with Hannah.

Also, there may be another open door beginning to open with a lady named 河原さん (Kawahara), with whom we have had interactions with for several months. She is an amazing (and slightly eccentric) vocal and music teacher, who sometimes comes to our church in Matsuoka or the school to teach/perform. She went out of her way this past week to reach out to me to invite me and Mia to a musical event downtown that she was kind of heading. She was so excited to have us come that she even paid for our tickets in advance. Honestly, it’s been a long couple of weeks and we didn’t feel like going, but while the flesh may be weak, the spirit is willing, and we determined to go anyway. Again, I am so glad we went! We met her after the event, and she definitely wants to join us in practicing music, language, etc. She has shown interest in the gospel, and we are hoping for Mia to perhaps start a Bible-based English class with her, or something else similar. Please pray for her soul as well!


Cards (and drawings) from countless members of Haven Fellowship.

In closing, I appreciate your continued prayers for my mom. And thank you as well to SO many of you for sending cards of encouragement – they were definitely so. My mom isn’t through it yet, and still things are uncertain, but I know our God has been reminded by so many people about her situation, and I trust in whatever decision he allows for her health. I’m turning 30 this year, and we are often surprised by my own health at still a young age (comparatively speaking, I suppose!), and it’s wonderful to know that our God is not just Saviour God, Sustainer God, and Teacher God, but he is also the Creator God, and personally knows each and every part of our bodies, for we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. As we pray for some of you for your health, too, know also that He is IN CONTROL. Praise the Lord for all that he is and all that he does.

The Substance of Things Hoped For

“Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (Jeremiah 2)

First of all, I want to start by giving thanks. I want to thank the Lord for his compassion, love, and most of all, his mercy. His mercies are renewed each and every day, and our debt of service and gratitude grows with it every day – we are always blessed far above what we deserve. Secondly, I want to thank everyone who has been praying directly for my mother’s situation. There are many details to it, but as of right now, there has been a direct answer from the Lord.


My mom has been in-and-out of the hospital several times in the last couple of months, and still continues to battle an unknown infection in her lungs. Since returning from the hospital this last time, she has been virtually alone, with little or no help. This has put a lot of pressure on us, contemplating some big decisions. If I/we were to leave Japan suddenly for any period of time right now, it would be very detrimental, and likely a permanent decision. With this, and many trials going on at one time, we have gone through a, perhaps expected, trial of questioning our purpose on the mission field. “Were we only meant to be here for a little while?” or “Maybe there is something different we are meant to do”? But we had to be reminded of all of God’s direction, leading, confirmation, and answers he had already gave us. We are such forgetful people. I’m very thankful that the Lord doesn’t forget us.


Many of you have prayed specifically about the situation with my family, and we’re abundantly blessed to give an update. The Lord has allowed a lady named LeShawn to enter my mom’s life – she’s an Aid Worker. She has been able to help my mom with some of the important things like laundry, cleaning, food, etc. But included in the “important” things, is prayer and in the Bible. LeShawn “happens” to be a christian, and is encouraging my mom in spiritual things, as well as the physical. Mia and I both instantly noticed a difference in my mom’s voice when we spoke with her last, when LeShawn was there. While we cannot boast ourselves of tomorrow, we are incredibly blessed by this blessing for my family! It is not only a relief for my mom and ourselves, but my sister/family quite a bit.  Thank you so much for your continued prayers about this! This is one of those encouraging times when God makes his answer(s) clear.

For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (Mark 11)

The Recently Replaced Small Shrine.

Also, in regards to prayer, we have started a very specific kind of prayer.  In a post several months ago, we mentioned that a small local shrine was suddenly found destroyed. At the same time, we had been praying that the Lord would remove the shrines in the area and replace them with Christ’s presence. Well, they have just recently rebuilt it. We are asking of the Lord specifically against that shrine, now. Just like Dagon was destroyed before the presence of the One True God in Ashdod over and over again, we are praying for this shrine-of-a-god to be destroyed once again, that men may fear and consider it, and that the Lord may be glorified. We are now going down every week to one of the shrines as a prayer campaign, and we are publicly letting others know this prayer, as well as asking for others’ prayers, that as many people will be able to glorify God when it comes to pass. It’s a scary thing to “stick out our foot” if such a thing weren’t to come to pass, but we are looking forward to praising the Lord, as we all ask in faith. Please join us in praying. Far too many demonic spirits control the hearts of the Japanese, and we are fervently awaiting to see the devil lose some of his deeply-rooted ground in Japan; we need the prayers of the faithful to accomplish this!


Voice of the Martyrs Newsletters.

One new start of an outreach is actually with an unexpected usage of VOM newsletters. The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com) is a non-profit organization that we support, that works worldwide to help those that are under persecution, and to reach some of the most dangerous people groups for Christ. One thing that they do is mail out monthly letters, highlighting some of the recent events for persecuted Christians in the different countries. We’ve had some interest shown by some of my students, including Moriai, and I’ve begun using it as an “English resource”. Also, partly as a result, I had a very good private class with Mr. Eigetsu today – the entrepreneur we mentioned last year. We spoke a lot about Islam, religion, and specifically, eternity, and that he, with others, need Christ. He mentioned that he is now only a “thin Buddhist”, as he gestured “a little”, and expressed that he may actually consider giving-up his family altar entirely. He is a very kind man, and he agreed today that life isn’t really worth much if there isn’t a better life afterward, and that reincarnation isn’t the answer. Please pray for his salvation! He may be very close!


It’s encouraging seeing the difference between our ability to speak Japanese from when we arrived last year to now, and we are continually looking forward to the more possibilities of reaching the lost. Hannah is also developing her own form of language(s), and is beginning to respond more and more to instructions – soon to be in both English and Japanese, Lord willing! Please pray for more open doors, as there have been more opening with others not mentioned yet, and for God to further prepare the hearts of those here in Fukui. Japan, as a mission field, requires a unique amount of patience, however, we are slowly, but gradually, starting to see fruit.

A Season and a Time

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up”. Ecc 3

We were reminded just the other day by a missionary friend to not “spread ourselves out too thin”, which is again a good reminder as we seem to be so busy. There is a time for everything, and we are facing a little change of “season”. Pastor Lonnie preached this week about discouragement. It was a good message that he preached from his heart (a link to the message can be found here). Mia fights with alike discouraging feelings about her self-worth when she examines herself. Her up-bringing was filled with criticism and scorn, so she sometimes struggles with fighting those feelings in herself.  Pastor Shannon also preached recently on the husband’s responsibility to his wife and family. An area in which I also need to examine myself, for I can be neglectful. As we each fight with our own flesh’s “besetting” difficulties, going abroad for a purpose has not removed these obstacles, so we hope to make sure that we spend adequate time on these areas of our lives.


Hannah and Mommy trying to scare the dinosaur….

Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle

Got to finally take Mia and Hannah out last week to one of the attractions in the prefecture – Dinosaur Park! There are actually two parts to it. One is a museum, the other is an outdoor park. We decided to skip the museum for now, as it would do much good for us not being able to read advanced Japanese and Hannah being so young. The outdoor park was basically a guided path through the

woods with different moving dinosaur models, sound effects, and information. We also got to go out to Maruoka Castle, too. It was nice just to have time out as a family; we’ve needed it.

When we left the States we had taken several supplies and resources to help us during our transition into Japan, but most of those resources are about all gone. It is now time for us to start venturing-out into the terrifying realm of the Japanese medical field. Mia will have to see an ophthalmologist soon, I’m planning on going for acupuncture this week for some health reasons, and (worst of all!), I need to figure out how to see a dentist. We really could use some prayer for a few of these things – I don’t think there are any English-speaking options!

Speaking of speaking, it doesn’t get said much on here, but language learning is of course a daily added activity for us here. Mia is still having her weekly Japanese lessons (she’s doing very well!), and we both have several daily resources that we use (not to mention instant immersion). We can finally hold controlled conversations to an extent, though listening to/partaking in full conversations is extremely difficult. It is encouraging to finally be able to read things and to understand different things – like what food items Hannah is eating!

Omikuji - purchased god fortunes.

Omikuji – purchased god fortunes.

Also at this current level, we are really hoping to utilize the time of one of the biggest Japanese holidays ‐正月 (Shou Gatsu/Holy Month), or New Years. This is a very important time for Japanese in which they seek to welcome the gods’ blessing for the new year and try to be clean inside and out. They also go to temples for おみくじ (Omikuji), which is basically a paper fortune, hoping for a blessing from god. We are really hoping to “redeem the time” wisely, and reach the people here, that they may truly have God’s blessing of salvation in Christ. We had another missionary couple over at our apartment this last weekend and discussed some ideas. Overall we were reminded of how very different of a mission field it is here, and how the Japanese people require a lot of time spent with them in order to reach them. Please pray for wisdom for us as we consider these things for December on how to reach the people.

Moriai on the bass and Hannah on the floor.

Moriai on the bass and Hannah on the floor.

Also an update regarding Moriai – we are indeed carpooling every week to one of our joint classes. It’s about a 40 minute drive each way, so it provides quite a bit of time to talk. Please continue to pray for more open doors. He also joined us last week to practice some children’s Bible songs for a “concert” we will be doing at GRACE next month, Lord willing. He seems so much like king Agrippa with the apostle Paul, so willing to listen, but then, nothing. Please keep praying for him! He may be just like most other Japanese, and he needs a lot of time.

Again, thank you for your prayers, and please remember to spend time with your family this week! We would also love to hear from you if you have any prayer requests of your own. Please let us know.

For Whosoever Will

“And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us”. -Luke 9

These past couple of weeks have been extremely busy, it seems, both with new and routine things. I’ve acquired yet another few extra classes lately. A couple of which involve Mineo Moriai. As mentioned briefly before, he is my main associate at the school; a Japanese man who speaks English fluently. He knows much about the Bible and American culture, but does not yet know Christ. He is one of our biggest points of prayer.

We will possibly car-pool weekly to the new class, as it is in a town named あわら (Awara), which is some distance away. We are praying for this to become an open door to witness to him more. Also, I have started a new class that only has two students – my boss and Moriai-san. It has already facilitated some Biblical discussions, and we are hoping for more “water” on his heart in this way. Thank you for your continued prayers for his salvation!

Mia has also started her own class this past week! She is now teaching a 3 year-old girl named さら (Sara). Mia is able to use Bible-based materials, and we are praying that it will not only plants seeds in the young girl’s heart, but also in her family’s (her grandmother is one of my students). There is also the possibility that Mia will be working with me in one of my larger future classes as well. Please keep her in prayer as she is working hard and seeking open doors!


One of our tea ceremony arrangements.

Two Sundays ago we had what’s called お茶会, or a Tea Ceremony, at the church. This is a very formal event for Japanese. It was a good time to witness to some who do not know the Lord. Pastor Emori gave a much longer message than some expected, but I believe it was a very good one. There was a Japanese man that sat next to me during the ceremony. He happened to be saved. While I was away from the table, he spoke to Mia and asked that we would reach Eiheiji to make it “a better place”. We surely hope that the Lord will though ordinary people like us (well, we’re a little peculiar at times, but mostly ordinary)! There was also a couple that accepted the Lord last week after the Tea Ceremony (the husband actually passed away later that week)!



Mia leaving a tract at a home.

We finally got to join our church for tract distribution. For one reason or another, we’ve not been able to join them until now. It involved going “door-to-door”, but not quite in the Biblical sense. We simply put tracts in mailboxes in a somewhat-plotted area. Mia and I gave out gospel tracts and spoke (very little) to people as we walked by them – this seemed foreign to the others (and not just because we’re foreigners)! We still have the vision of starting an outdoor outreach in the city, but it requires more Japanese fluency and perhaps more conducive weather – it has already become cold here and it would not be very realistic with Hannah. Japanese are culturally uncomfortable with initiating conversations with strangers. In-turn, it is very effective for us when we simply ask how someone is, or interact in other ways that they don’t expect. We hope to use this difference to positively influence our church and to reach more people. Please help us pray about wisdom for this – it’s so hard to think that nearly everyone you is dying in their sin without the remedy. We need to reach them!



The tract from the J.W.s

Also, in regards to door-to-door, we were very surprised to have a pair of J.W.s (Jehovah Witnesses) come to our apartment a few days ago. We’ve been spiritually “brought-up” to differentiate good and bad teachings, and have been taught to “endure sound doctrine”, holding to that which God upholds (which we very much should!). We, in the meanwhile however, have also been essentially taught to shun all other denominations that have “wrong doctrine”. It was certainly interesting to, instead of seeking to contend with our visitors, but rather to offer them a drink and pray for them. While some would be offended with this story, it was strangely refreshing to do so with them. The Lord gave me peace with this reminder in Philippians chapter 1:


“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice”.

It truly is a daily grief and reminder that hardly anyone around us knows Christ as their Saviour. We may not agree with many things of other groups (especially J.W.s), but if they lead someone to trust in the Lord and to love him with all of their heart, we will no longer be the ones to condemn it. We must all develop convictions and study to know God’s Word, but we mustn’t sacrifice the lost for the sake of “being right”.

Lastly, we had another ministry opportunity at Tanpopoen. It was similar to before: singing and a short Bible message. We are scheduled to return again to give them a Christmas kind-of service. Praise the Lord for a continued door to reach them there! We hope that we will one day see fruit.

Lastly (again): One last note! We’ve been making a point of praying whenever possible when we pass a shrine (there are a lot). One thing we pray is for God to destroy the idols, and to replace them with Christ. Here is a recent picture of one of those shrines.


Remains of a small shrine downtown.

We don’t know how, but it’s been completely demolished. While we don’t know the events leading to it, but it is certainly a “big deal” to both us and the local people, and we certainly believe in the ability of our God! Please keep praying against the evil that is here, and for the Spirit of the Lord to fill Japan!


There are a couple of more updates, but we’ll leave them for the next post. As always, we thank everyone so much for your support and your prayers! You are as much a part as we are.

The Same Yesterday, Today, But Not Forever

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Prayers purchased by our town’s people.

Perhaps a good sign of a mature christian is a consistent life; the Lord wants dependable people in his kingdom (I Tim 1:12). The last two weeks or so have been pretty steady for us here and a test for us to be consistent. Work is increasingly busy, and Mia is perpetually busy with not just being a mom, but also while learning a new language and pursuing ministry opportunities. At this point we are but continuing to acclimate to life here. There has not been much change recently, but it seems some will be coming soon.


It seems that Mia will be engaging in a small amount of English teaching herself. It would include teaching a young child, as well as the possibility of having a moms’ class. On top of that, she was also approached by a stranger the other day, who promptly offered her a teaching job at her school – it all seemed so sudden. While we all agree that she should not be adding so much to her plate, Mia is excited to start teaching at least a little, and for it to be both another ministry opportunity, as well as a way to bolster her own language learning. We are praying for the right timing of our schedules to make it work.

It’s kind of hard to believe that we’ve already finished a third of our company contract here in Fukui! It still feels like we just got here (which is still quite true). If you have been following this blog, you know that our length-of-stay here in Fukui has been one of the top topics of prayer for us, of which an answer seems nearly in sight. We have decided that it would be highly beneficial for us to stay in Japan for at least four years… starting from the U.S. election in November (well, it was a thought, anyway)! Even with that being the case, we do truly feel it is wise and of the Lord’s leading, at this time, for us to remain in Japan beyond our contract end in June. We do not know how long that may mean, but only that we sense that our purpose here is not just for one year. In agreeance with several areas of counsel, some steps have already been taken in the U.S. for us, and we plan on slowly making a few more decisions both there and here. Thank you so much for your fastings and prayers in this! It isn’t really for us, but for the countless in Japan that need reached for Christ.

In addition to the physical considerations that will have to be made, we also have a vision for future ways to minister. In addition to continued efforts at Tanpopoen, there is also a children’s orphanage in our prefecture called くれ愛園 (Kure-ai-en). While we continue to live our lives in relative comfort and blessings, the elderly and the young remain held within the limits of walls, with almost all of them without hope physically, or eternally. With the continual support of Hiroko, we are currently looking into what way we can reach the orphans at Kureaien. There may be a couple of possibilities, but it’s too early to say just yet. Please join us in our burden and prayer for this!

Some of you also know about a young woman (she will remain nameless) that we asked for prayer for to help in the Philippines. Thank you for praying. Her and her daughter are safely home. We will not share all of the details here, but if you have any questions, please ask us personally.

Whether it’s about homeless children in Japan, endangered family in the Philippines, or reading about suffering in the U.S., we’ve been reminded lately of our great need, as christians, to proclaim the truth of God’s love and mercy. The late Joey Feek had a song entitled, “In the Time that You Gave Me”. Part of the lyrics say this:

“In the time that you gave me, did I give all that I could I could give? Did I love all I could love? Did I live all I could live? Was my faith in your grace strong enough to save me? Did I do all I could do in the time that you gave me?… If today is the day that you should decide to take me, did I do all I could do in the time that you gave me?” 

It is the Lord’s desire to save the sheep that have gone astray, and our desire and prayer is that you will join us to reach those who are wandering their way into eternity on the wrong side of heaven. Thank you so much for all of your support, whether in encouragements, packages, financially, or by prayer. We are truly a blessed people!


“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved….. how then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” -Rom 10:13-14


As a youth I had a lot to learn (and still do). One of the most influential things in a young person’s life are their elders. To this day I still remember the depressing feeling of a time when my pastor was upset with me! Even as an adult the same has an influence on us. The contrary is also true. Knowing that we have the support of family, friends, and our church, is very empowering – even across the world.


As we serve here in Japan the obstacles continually remind me that we must have a power greater than our own if we are to accomplish anything in a “Graveyards of Missionaries”.  We’ve seen so much of God’s provision before and during our transition to Japan, but will God continue to show his favor? If you are feeling discouraged, not seeing the power of God in your life, would you commit it to prayer and fasting? The power behind knowing God is behind you and sending you is incredible.


From the left, Hiroko, Angel (previous teacher), and Mr. and Mrs. Nishimoto

Mr. and Mrs. Nishimoto are on the right.

I recently got to meet a young man named Takumi Nishimoto – the son of two of my students (mentioned here); he joined my class for a few weeks. While several people had been praying for him, along with a parting gift, I was led to give him a gospel tract. That evening an open door also arose to give them a Christian testimony and to talk about the Bible. It turns out that Hiroko was praying for him at the same time, and Takumi has recently shown interest in, and began reading, the Bible. I didn’t realize what was going on behind the scenes, but the Lord did. We would love to see the Lord do a work in his heart and to reach his family for Christ! Please pray for the Spirit’s continued leading in Takumi’s heart and for his parents’ salvation as well.


Many of you have also been praying regarding how long we are to be in Japan, of which we thank you so much. This is a very difficult and impactful decision that we can’t haste in making, but we are again encouraged by more of how God is leading people here. One of the many things that are being done on our behalf in the U.S. is the care of our dog, Pippy. As you may know, Pippy (A.K.A. Pip) is very precious to us and she likewise is a very loving dog (she adores Hannah)! Nate and Janae Yoder (along with the stalwart aid of their children, no doubt!) have been selflessly taking care of her. While we don’t yet know all of the details, the Lord may be preparing a future door for Pippy to rejoin us, though it would be contingent on one thing, realistically – us staying in Japan. We ask if you would also pray for us regarding this!

Mineo Moriai and us shortly after we arrived in Japan.

Mineo Moriai and us shortly after we arrived in Japan.

A quick update regarding Tanpopoen, the elderly home. There was another invitation given to return at the end of the month – we are surprised by the continued open door. Please continue to pray for the salvation of the people at Tanpopoen. One of the next desires we have is to visit an orphanage in the next town. To my knowledge it is the only for in a large radius from our area. Honor is extremely important to the Japanese. So important, in fact, that suicide is a common thing here. People would rather end their life in honor than live it in shame. This also applies to children. Many children kill themselves because of bullying of other forms of shame – like the shame of being an orphan. Being adopted is looked down upon, so adoption is rare, and many children are left without a home. We hope and pray for an open door to reach these children. Lastly, please continue to pray for Mineo Moriai, the Japanese teacher I work with. We are determined and greatly desiring for him to trust the Lord – he seems so close!


Thank you all for your support and prayers, and we hope to update you again soon!


“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. ” Jeremiah 44:5


It seemed the last few weeks were a bit busy for us. While Brian had off from work for about a week for summer break, there were still preparations that we needed to do, some just by ourselves, but some with other people. And of course when everyone has different schedules, it doesn’t always come out smoothly but praise the Lord, it got done!

IMG_3528First we had a “concert” at Tanpopoen Nursing Home! That was very neat to be apart of! The staff did it up nicely! They had little games outside along with some food. Inside they had food and all the music going on. We even did bingo! (My card must have been broken. I didn’t even win anything!) They had what seemed like some kind of school that teaches, I believe, “taiko” which are Japanese percussion instruments. Then Hiroko (Brian’s boss) sang some songs. She sang “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. I’ll just let the picture speak for itself! And Brian, Makito and I sang some hymns…. in Japanese! Considering two out of three aren’t fluent in the language, I’d say it wasn’t a train wreck. Maybe more like a fender bender. 🙂 So despite me making up words, we pray that it ministered to the people. One thing that is tricky about either singing gospel music or hymns and hoping that people will come to Christ as their personal Savior is that they think that they can just “collect gods”. It needs to be very clearly communicated to them that there is only One True God, and that they can’t have any other gods. Please pray for the people of Japan that their eyes would be open to that Truth and also pray for us that we may know how to communicate that to them!

Pastor Emori and Rainer

Pastor Emori and Rainier

Sunday was a little different than usual as we had a man named Rainier join us, who has been doing missions works in the Tokyo area for some years now. He ended up giving the sad news that he was going back to the Philippines (he’s Filipino) in December, but we are happy that we got to meet him. He gave a Sunday morning message and then he gave a message at our Worship service that we had a bit later in the afternoon and they had us to sing there as well. It was great to get together with a church in the area to just worship the Lord.

Sunday evening had been an evening that Brian and I have been waiting for since we found out about O-bon! A little back story on O-bon. O-bon is a time that Buddhists believe that their ancestors come back to this world and visit family. They really have quite a bit of things that they do to help “bring back” their loved ones. For example, they make a horse out a cucumber to bring in their ancestors quickly and make a cow out of eggplant to send them off slowly because they don’t like good-byes.

Lighting the Ancestors' Way

Lighting the Ancestors’ Way

Men scooping up lanterns.

Men scooping up lanterns.

Another thing that they do that we were able to witness is that they put lit lanterns in the rivers as a way to light their ancestors way back to the spirit world. I mean, this lantern ceremony is a big deal and there are a ton of people at it. As much as it is really gorgeous to see the lanterns lit floating down the river but at the same time, it’s very sad as people believe everything behind the meaning. And what was also sad was when we went back to the bus that takes you to the parking lot, there were some men standing at a spot in the river collecting all the lanterns out of the water. It’s almost like there really is no meaning in actually sending the lanterns down if someone is just gonna scoop them up. How do you determine the ancestors got back safely? Truly, there are so many questions you’d like to ask people and hopefully, you’d get them to think about things rather than just believing it because someone said that this is what will happen if you do this.

While the last few weeks had it’s times of grief for us (as we watch people faithfully doing something that will not benefit them eternally) and while it seemed like we had a ton of things to do in a certain amount of time, it was still a great week! God is still working on us. Showing us things in our lives. He continues to lay “visions” that we hope to keep so the people don’t perish. Again, please pray for the people of Japan. It is a first world country, but it’s a first world country that doesn’t really get to hear the gospel and if they do, they may not receive it clearly from just one meeting. It’s truly a relationship building place. They need to see it played out in real life, but also they need to hear it too.


“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God”. -Col 2:18-19


People praying to Buddha for blessings.

People praying to Buddha for blessings.

I often think on how Buddhism is the “perfect” outward religion. It teaches a person selflessness, kindness, about the inherently evil nature that we are all born with, and that we need cleansed of it. We even get to see the fruits of Buddhism all around us in Japan. The streets are clean (both literally and figuratively), people are extremely respectful, and it is one of the safest countries in the entire world. Many of this is thanks to Buddhism. What Buddhism does not do, however, is show a person how to actually be rid of that evil nature (the flesh), nor does it show a man the way to the eternal relationship that we all need with God. Francis Xavier once said, “In my opinion no people superior to the Japanese will be found among unbelievers”. Soon later, he left Japan, saying that Buddhism was “an invention of the devil”.

A common demon statue about 10 feet tall.

A common demon statue about 10 feet tall.


“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light”. -II Cor 11:14


Today, Mia, Hannah, and I, got to see a strong example of how the devil is a great counterfeiter, and uses things that are so close to God’s beauty and truth, and yet deceives many away from the Lord. We went to the Eiheiji temple today – a long anticipated trip, though only about a fifteen-minute drive from where we live. 時 (ji) is the word for Temple, of which the town we live in is named – the town of Eihei-ji. It is revered as one of the largest Buddhist temples in the country. It is especially sacred to the local people. Eiheiji includes a vast landscape along the mountainside. It is filled with gorgeous examples of God’s creation, but not the creation’s God.


A family starting to make an incense offering.

A family starting to make an incense offering.

The monks appear busy all day, doing their daily tasks and up-keeping the grounds. You will not see any of them in the pictures, however, as photography of them is prohibited. You can smell the aroma of incense nearly everywhere you go, as offerings are made throughout. You can hear the monks’ incantations at times. We even saw a monk performing a ritual who appeared to be an American (or a foreigner, at the least). Many areas of worship are filled with gold and other precious materials as a form of expressing gratitude to Buddha in the highest way they can. The particular sect of 座禅 Buddhism (zazen) that is in this temple believe in giving their entire life for the pursuit of spiritual perfection. If all Christians did the same, I wonder the impact that we would have!


Inside one of Eiheiji's ritual rooms.

Inside one of Eiheiji’s ritual rooms.

Eiheiji is particularly busy right now, as this week marks the beginning of お盆 (obon), a major Buddhist holiday. This is a time that people return to their home lands to pay sacrilege to their ancestors. They visit their families’ grave sites, offer incense, leave offerings at shrines and temples, and light candles for the dead. It is a daily burden to see countless people go by us that are following their lives on the devil’s path of destruction. Hannah got the attention of a shop girl today, and then another, and then another, but we could not tell them about Christ. We met the family of two little twin girls, and they are also spiritually without hope. Just like in America, it is hard to imagine a majority of people around you will one day be in hell – just here it is more of an extreme and more apparent.


It seems that our burden and ministries continue to grow, and we know that to “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required”. Please continue to pray for Japan. Please continue to pray for wisdom for us on God’s intended purpose for us here. Please also pray, as Mia has been burdened with some particular thoughts lately (she may say more on it at a later time), and pray for God to continue to use simple people like us (including Hannah), for the lost and for his glory!

The Young and the Old…

We definitely feel that the church we are at right now (Matsuoka Evangelical Church) is the place that we need to be. To help encourage those who labour for the Lord in reaching those without Christ. For them, they’re not the type of church that gets missionaries frequently. To Brian and I, well, we’re just like any other normal person. Nothing special about us. But to them, we are something special. There is encouragement within the church because God has given us a different perspective from the culture we came from to share with the Japanese culture. We think within one type of box and they think within another. But both peoples can learn things from the other and then you have everyone unpacking their boxes!

“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” 1 Timothy 5:17


The Pastor is a wonderful man. He is an older gentleman and he had suffered from a stroke a few years back and he hasn’t been the same since. From what we understand, he has a servant’s heart, always wanting to help people. But since the stroke, he can’t even drive himself or his wife places. He will be speaking and in the middle of the sentence, forget what he was just talking about. People now have to help him. It truly bothers him because he can’t help others like he use to. But just because of all that, that doesn’t stop him from doing other things that help others. He continues to preach (in Japanese, of course). Since we’ve been there, he has faithfully typed out his messages in English for Brian and I to follow along with during service. A lot of times, when we read what he types, we feel like we’re reading a fortune cookie, but he most certainly gets his point across! Please pray for encouragement for him as he has discouraging times with his health.


DSC_0179There are some ministries that the church has been doing before we got here and there is at least one ministry that was started a week ago. I’d like to add this before I say much more. I keep coming to the realization on how important it is for us to be a part of the ministries that the church has because of our position. But right now, while we do understand a little of the language, there are still lots that we have to learn, and I believe that is what holds us back from being a part of those things. So please continue to be in prayer for us about learning Japanese.

“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

The one ministry that we got the blessing to be apart of was the one that was started a week ago by the Pastor’s wife. God had laid it on her heart to spread the gospel to the elderly at a local nursing home.

Tanpopoen Residents

Tanpopoen Residents

There were many more people there than what I expected. But they asked Brian and I to sing. Brian got to play his accordion and also, he preached (his boss, Hiroko interpreted). One of the best elements you can put Brian into is teaching/preaching so he had a fun time doing all of that!
I’ll say this because Brian would never tell anyone this (“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Proverbs 27:2). There was a bit of concern at first from Hiroko about the message and the fact that it wasn’t “a usual
gospel message”. He preached from Psalm 100. But in the end, he tied in the gospel. That is a different way than what Hiroko knew. She expressed that, the way the messaged was preached, made her think in a new way. The members of the nursing home actually want us to come back, even though they are almost all Buddhist.

Also, Hannah was quite the attention-getter when people saw her. I sat down with her while all of us were up front singing and I’m pretty sure these two ladies paid no attention to what was even being sung because they were too busy waving at Hannah which Hannah didn’t seem to mind. 😉 It seems like there is always something about the young in a nursing home. Through her, or really any child, you see God’s masterpiece. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19:1 We are beyond blessed with how God uses her!