We're in the middle of a busy and important week at All Nations Fellowship (ANF) in Nagakute. It's our annual Kids Summer English (KSE) event. This year, all of our available slots filled up with about 36 hours of opening registration to the public! In all, we have around 65 children between preschool and 6th grade. We're meeting each morning for a VBS-like program that's centered around an island (Hawaii) theme. Then, there's a family lunch every day followed by an afternoon activity to build friendships with the moms who come. Despite the name (Kids Summer ENGLISH), the event is mostly in Japanese and mainly targeted toward Japanese families. Most of the families represented are not yet Christians.
So - will you pray with us over the remainder of the week? KSE began on Tuesday and ends on Saturday morning. Then, we have a special worship service on Sunday where the kids will be performing some of the songs they've learned. We hope many of the dads will attend that service. I'll be preaching a short and simple Gospel message, and there's little doubt that many in the congregation will hear the Good News for the first time.
So, please pour on the prayers this week, especially! Please pray for me as I prepare and preach. Pray for our partners from Lighthouse Community Church who came to lead this event...and also for ANF's staff and congregation who are interacting every day with nonChristians from the surrounding community.
I'll post a few pictures of our first 2 days followed by some additional bullets with updates and other prayer requests related to our ministry. Thank you!
THANK YOU for the way you pray for our family and ministry! THANK YOU for your generosity in supporting our family as we labor here in Nagoya - both with your prayers and your financial gifts. Your partnership really is important. The longer we are here, the more clearly we see the huge weaknesses we bring to the table. Those weaknesses magnify God's greatness (as he works through weak people, like us) and underscore His readiness to respond to our prayers. Thank you for staying in this with us. Thank you for all the ways you partner with us to help bring the Good News to Japan!
Recent Events and Updates:
Do you remember T-san? We've asked that you pray for her over the last couple of years. Well, she was baptized and received as a member of ANF at our morning worship service a few weeks ago! She also gave me permission to share her name with you. T-san is Tomoko-san. There's a photo of Tomoko-san and her family below. Now, you can put a name and a face with these answered prayers!
Last month, I was approved as a team leader with Serge. That means we now have the all-clear to invite others to join us here in Nagoya. This month, we also saw the arrival of a new short-term teammate - Josh Curl - who will be with us until at least May 2020. Josh leads a ministry that uses Karaoke events to connect Japanese nonChristians to local churches. He will also be offering support to one of the local Japanese church planters in our area. We're excited to have Josh here with us!
In April, we had some important meetings with Hide-san (ANF apprentice) and leaders from Lighthouse Community Church of Torrence, CA. Lighthouse has become a strong partner for ANF over the past few years, and they will now work directly with Hide-san (and a new intern named Toshi) to plant a new church in the city. Lighthouse leaders will directly oversee the new plant, and our team will offer pastoral and practical support to Hide and Toshi-san as needed. This kind of relationship fits well with our vision for a future team.
So, our first two apprentices from ANF will both soon be leading different works in our city. Yu-san is already leading our downtown campus, and Hide-san will soon be planting a new work. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
In May, CPI hosted our first Japanese Grace Week. Grace Week is a week-long retreat that we hold each year here in Japan. Its purpose is to preach the Gospel to Christians (especially missionaries and Christian leaders) in a way that fosters (personal and corporate) Spiritual renewal. Japan is a hard field, and burnout is common. We want Christian leaders to become experts at RECEIVING the same Good News that they so generously GIVE to others. This May was the first time this material has been presented in Japanese (by Japanese pastors)! In June, I went to Tokyo to join a debrief with Grace Week leaders, and they were all deeply encouraged by the way the participants responded to the week. They're already dreaming about doing it again next year!
On the Sunday of Tomoko-san's baptism, the conference rooms that we normally meet in for worship were all full. So, the hotel staff offered us the "Wedding Chapel" for our service! It made such a beautiful venue for the baptism! Above, you can see our traditional group photo after a baptism and also a picture of Tomoko-san's family with Paul and me. Her husband is also sincerely exploring the Gospel, but he is not yet ready to be baptized. Pray that the Spirit would also visit him with the gift of faith!
Joshua will be visiting from August 2-21. We're excited for the whole family to be together, but life and ministry won't stop for his visit. Will you pray for our connecting as a family over the next few weeks?
Next month, I (Jeremy) will begin a year-long course focusing on LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT with Serge. The course will focus on both on Spiritual renewal and practical leadership philosophy/skills. As I begin this course, I'd like to ask you to pray for the Spirit to use the course to make me a better leader in the various areas to which he's calling me to lead.
Please pray for our hearts and our walk with Christ. That we: "...being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Would you pray that way for Gina and me this month?
Please pray for Gina and my marriage and for wisdom in parenting these budding young men he's given us.