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For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea."


~ Habakkuk 2:14 ~
Dear Friends,

It has been an incredibly busy stretch for us over these past few months!  In May/June, we traveled to Spain for two weeks of conferences with our company (one week for leaders and a second with the whole company).  It was a tremendous encouragement to meet with our fellow missionaries who are serving all over the world for fellowship, collaboration, worship in our heart language.  We came home full!  Since then, we've made two other significant trips within Japan, which I'll share about below.

In this update, I'd like to share a recent story that gives a glimpse of how God is at work through our partnership, a few bullets to update you about the work, and some fresh prayer requests.  If you'll stick it out to the end, l'll also include a special video clip from a festival we stumbled onto during a recent trip.  I think you'll find it interesting...but no peeking ahead!!  :)

Much Love,

Jeremy and Gina
We had very nice reunion with Josiah in Spain.  His friend, Georgia, also joined him for the trip (!!!), and the two helped with childcare during the conferences.  Due to the pandemic, normal travel to Japan hasn't been possible these past 2 years.  So, it was a real treat to have Josiah with us for both weeks in Spain.
Leading from Weakness and Pointing to Christ
 
Recently, I heard an encouraging story from one of our former interns who is now pastoring a church in his city.  He gave me permission to share this with you, but I promised I'd change his name and be vague about some of the details to avoid putting a spotlight on him.  So, I'll call him "Mr. C."

Over the past 2 years, Mr. C has been attending a pastor's gathering in his city.  Most of the pastors in the group are leading traditional, Japanese churches, and Mr. C's church is a little different.  Mr. C is also the youngest in the room.  For both of these reasons, he sometimes wonders if really has anything valuable to contribute to the group. 

A few weeks ago, it was Mr. C's turn to preach at the gathering.  During the sermon, he challenged the group to think about whether they were truly leading from hearts motivated by love for God and their neighbors. He confessed that his heart is inclined toward using people to build his own reputation instead of serving them out of love.  He also acknowledged his need for the Spirit's transforming work in his own heart and encouraged the group with the promises of the Gospel.  I wish I'd have been there for that sermon!

As he shared, Mr. C wasn't sure how people were receiving his words, and he told me he was full of self-doubt.  Then, when he finished, the oldest man in the room spoke up.  He said (something like), "Me too.  I'm just like that.  And this gathering should be a place where we confess our sin and weakness to one another and seek God's grace together."  Then, one by one, others in the room responded similarly.

Later, Gina and I heard through the grapevine that another pastor who attends this group went back to his own church and shared with his congregation about areas of sin and struggle in his own life.  He told them he'd recently come to realize that confessing sin and weakness while pointing to Christ is one of the ways we can see the love and power of God at work in our midst.  How about that?!?

As I share this story, I'm aware that we can't take credit for what the Holy Spirit is doing in Mr. C's life.  At the same time, we've spent a lot of time with him over these past years, and this story is a glimpse ahead at what we hope for the futureWe are investing in Japanese leaders with the expectation that they will carry the Good News into circles that we can never reach.  This pastors' group is a perfect example of that.  What if this group became a hotbed of Gospel renewal among the pastors in their city?  What if the spiritual renewal of these pastors spilled over into their churches and communities?  And what if the youngest pastor in the room became a catalyst for that?  Will you pray this way - big prayers - for this group and for Mr. C - God knows who he is.
Photos from our company conference in Spain!  (Top) Our team from Nagoya, (bottom left) All of Serge's missionaries who work in various parts of Japan, and (bottom right) Everyone from Serge-Japan up front for introductions and prayer requests during the daily prayer time.  We are one of the newest fields in Serge, so we received a lot of love!
The Recent Work
  • In July, we traveled to Karuizawa for TEAM-Japan's annual gathering.  TEAM is one of the oldest and largest missions agencies in Japan.  Maybe you'll remember that I spoke for their annual gathering last summer, and they invited me to fill that role again this year.  For us, it was an opportunity to encourage other missionaries who are having a widespread impact among the Japanese.  We love this group and want to see them drinking deeply of the Living Water so they can be fountains of God's grace in this spiritually parched land.
  • After the TEAM conference, we drove 8 more hours north to Aomori Prefecture where we visited Mitsu and Kristin Nakamura's family.  Mitsu-san is one of ANF's former interns and a graduate of CBS.  Now, the Nakamuras are helping to plant a new church in a very hard and unreached part of Japan.  I meet with Mitsu-san monthly via Zoom, but this was a rare opportunity to see them in their own context and encourage them face-to-face.
  • Things at ANF have continued to go quite well since the closure of the Nagakute campus.  Many of the families from Nagakute have now transitioned downtown, while a few are attending other churches in the area.  My new role as an elder is to serve alongside our pastor, Yu-san.  The position is a great fit for our new emphasis on facilitation and leadership development as opposed to direct church planting and pastoral ministry.
  • Our new team is continuing to gel together.  Daniel is through his first semester of language school, and Jessica is now into her last semester.  Although our teammates' time is currently devoted to the important task of learning Japanese, we have been meeting regularly to pray and share meals together.  Beginning this month, we'll be adding a new monthly meeting to begin to dream and plan for the future.
!! THANK YOU !!

Friends, thank you for your continued generosity with us.  Thank you for praying.  Thank you for giving sacrificially during such uncertain and challenging times.  We appreciate you and look forward to thanking you face-to-face next year during our home assignment.  More details on HA near the end of this year, but we're looking forward to around 9 months in the USA beginning sometime around May 2023.
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Mitsu and Kristin Nakamura are church planting in Hirakawa City.
Their children are:  Zeke (11), Mikka (9), Chiyomi (4), and Hosea (1)
For Your Praying...
  • We're tired!  The recent, unusual travel and events have been enjoyable, but we're feeling stretched and thin.  Looking ahead, our calendars seem more "normal" (whatever that is).  In a recent call with our member care representative, she encouraged us to be intentional about resting during August and September.  It's been a very full season on top of a tough half-year.  Would you pray for our resting - both physically and spiritually?
  • We appreciate your continued prayers for all three of our boys.  Garrett turns 18 this month and will soon begin his senior year in high school!  We have him for one more year, and more than ever before we see the time as precious.  Pray for our time with Garrett.
  • Josiah is back at ASU, serving as an RA in one of the dorms.  He loves Boone and is ramping up for his Junior year.  Joshua is currently in Lexington, NC.  He's finishing his MA in counseling with Liberty University, doing an internship, and working a part time job.  In many ways, he seems to be doing quite well right now.
  • For the Nakamura family.  Mitsu and Kristin are planting Hirakawa Christ Church outside of Aomori City.  It's a beautiful, agricultural area whose 30K residents seems rural compared to Nagoya.  There are very few Christians in this area - even compared to the rest of Japan.  The church is still very small with only a few families who attend regularly, but they had their first baptism on Easter.  God has also provided the funds for them to purchase a building for their meetings, so they have actually have a facility (that makes us a little jealous if we're honest)!  This month, please pray for this family and their work.
  • Continue to pray for Mr. X who is openly professing new faith in Christ and a desire for baptism.  There's often a real cost for that profession here in Japan.  Friends and especially family may not welcome his new faith.  So, pray for courage, faith, and a growing confidence in the Spirit's presence in his life.  Yu-san and I also talked to ANOTHER person about baptism recently.  Pray for conversions!
  • Our Team (Jessica, Daniel, and ourselves).  We are currently organizing a team retreat for prayer and planning during September.  Will you continue to pray for our connecting in these early days of our team.  We're learning to pray together - pray for our praying!  We're learning to dream together - pray for that!  We're all sinners who will eventually have conflict together - you can go ahead and pray for that, too!
Top left:  It's called "rice art."  The picture is made of 5 different colors of (living) rice plants.  We saw three different fields  with different images in Hirakawa-city (where the Nakamura's live).  Also above, two photos from a day trip into the mountains near Aomori.  It was so nice to see green and hear water running.  Lots of waterfalls!  It's a beautiful part of Japan.  Bottom right:  Mitsu and his son, Zeke, leading worship at Hirakawa Christ Church.
We happened to be in Hirakawa during the annual Neputa Festival.  Here's a video of what we experienced during a parade on the first night of the festival.
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Jeremy and Gina Sink · Otana-cho 3-1-3 · Shatore Otana 402 · Nisshin-shi,, Aichi-ken 464-0835 · Japan

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