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And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
~ Matthew 6:18 ~

Dear Friends,

Spring is coming.  If Jesus tarries, it's inevitable, and it's coming really soon!  On the surface, things still look lifeless, but just out of sight, roots are spreading out and buds are ripening.  In another month, the cherry blossoms are expected to open in Nagoya.  We can't wait!

The pandemic has also seemed like a long, barren winter, but if our eyes could see what God has been doing all around us over the past 12 months, I'm pretty sure it would take our breath away. Christ is building his church, and even the worst this fallen world has to offer can't disrupt its spread.  Even this year, hearts of fathers all over the world are turning toward their children.  Blind eyes are are opening to see the beauty of Christ for the first time. Cold, dead hearts are waking up and walking out of tombs.  The Kingdom of God is advancing, and even the gates of hell can't hold it back.  I know all of that is happening even when we can't see it, but every once in a while we get a peek at what the Spirit is doing.  Gina and I caught a glimpse of that on a recent Sunday afternoon at ANF-Nagakute.

After our worship services, we have a simple small group meeting where members can share ideas and ask questions about the morning service.  A few weeks ago, the sermon topic revolved around the Trinity.  Of course, that's a challenging subject, and as Eguchi-sensei preached, I caught myself wondering whether the newer Christians would be able to follow the teaching.

During the small group time, the first couple began to share.  The wife said, "Today, I was so encouraged to learn that the Father, Son, and Spirit had friendship together even before they made the world.  They didn't create us because they were sad or empty but from a place of happiness!  I see they are inviting me to join them in their happiness!"  The next lady said, "Me too!  I was thinking about how the Father, Son, and Spirit are like a loving family.  I didn't have the greatest family growing up, but now I have been brought into their family and get to share in their love for one another!  That makes me happy!"

Both women shared with tears in their eyes.  As they shared, I thought about how both of them are only a few years old in their faith.  In fact, many of you prayed for them as they wrestled with the Gospel.  Both of them are struggling in many ways, just like all of us.  But even in the midst of a hard year, their roots of faith have been growing deeper and their love for God is budding.  During that discussion, they were the ones who reminded me what Good News we have been invited into!  Maybe through this quick story, they're also reminding you...had you forgotten?

Below, you'll find another short story about how we've seen the Spirit at work here recently.  You'll also find a financial update, and our usual list of prayer requests.  Although the prayer requests come last, they're the main reason for the update - so feel free to scroll to the end and pray at any time!  :)

We're incredibly thankful for each of you.  You're amazing partners - the best of any missionaries we know!  Thank you for praying, giving, writing, and loving us so well.

Peace.

Jeremy and Gina
FINANCIAL UPDATE

Our support account makes us feel THANKFUL right now.  Back in November, we shared with you that we were feeling cautious about our support.  Several months during 2020 were lower than expected, and we knew that a few of our financial partners were were needing to scale back a bit.  

Thank you for your very strong, generous response to our need.  Many of you sent some extra money in December, and that helped us end the year in very good shape.

We think we will probably need to give some time to support raising this year, but our account is in great shape to start 2021.  More on that in future updates.  Thank you for partnering with us in this work!
Make a Contribution to our Support Account
We've been telling you about Daniel Mitchel (top/left) and Josh Curl (bottom/right), who are both raising support to join our team.  Daniel is currently based in Chicago, and Josh is living in St. Augustine, FL.  If you click on Daniel's photo, you'll find a profile page where you can read more about him.  You can also read Daniel's most recent newsletter here.  The link we have for josh is a little more bare-bones, but we'll share more information about him in upcoming newsletters!  Please pray for these brothers as they raise support during a difficult season for fundraising.  If you know of individuals or churches who would like to hear from them, please let us know or reach out to them directly!  Connecting with them is connecting with us, and we commend them to you!
A New Opportunity with Japanese Leaders

A year ago, Zoom meetings still felt strange.  Now, they're all-too-normal, but this reality has also opened up new opportunities for ministry with leaders who live in different parts of Japan.  During January, I met with three Japanese pastors via Zoom.  Two of the three men have some history with ANF, and all are serving in places where they are especially susceptible to isolation and loneliness.  We've decided to begin meeting regularly for prayer, coaching, and mutual encouragement.  

In America, I remember feeling a little uncomfortable when someone would introduce me at a gathering:  "This is my friend, Jeremy.  He is a pastor..."  In a lot of settings, no one knew what to say to that!  Now, imagine being a believer in a country where Christians make up less than 1% of the population.  If being a Christian brings a natural sense of alienation from the surrounding culture, being a Christian Pastor (or the spouse of a pastor!) increases that alienation exponentially.   Church planters represent an even smaller minority.  We should pray for these leaders!

Please pray for Gina and me as we seek to move toward Japanese couples who are serving as Church planters/pastors/leaders.  And pray for me as I get a feel for how I can be of special help and encouragement to the brothers in this new group as they do the work that God has called them to do.
For Your Praying
  • Two weeks ago, we woke up to the surprising, heartbreaking news that Gina's grandmother had passed away due to COVID.  She had been diagnosed a few days before, went to the hospital, and died within a few hours after being admitted.  Between the two of us, we've now lost 7 really important, beloved family members since moving to Japan 8.5 years ago.  This time, we were able to attend the livestream of the funeral, but grieving from another continent, away from loved ones is confusing and messy.  Would you pray for Gina as she continues to grieve her grandmother's death?
  • The elders at ANF are wrestling with vision for the next stage of the life of the church.  We’re actually setting aside time to pray and fast every Friday in February to ask for the Holy Spirit to lead us clearly and give us a strong sense of unity among the elders and with our wives.  This feels like a very important moment in the history of the church, and we’d be grateful for you to join us in prayer.
  • New Teammates - Please remember to pray for our friends Daniel Mitchell and Josh Curl as they raise support to join our team here in Nagoya.  Please use the links embedded in their photos to learn more about how you can pray for them during this time.
  • Gina and I are starting the Sonship discipleship course this month with a mentor from Serge.  We did the course almost 20 years ago, and it was deeply impactful to our lives and marriage.  Now, we’re in a very different place in our marriage, parenting, and ministry, so we expect to find lots of new ways to apply the material to our lives.  Sonship involves a lot of "heart-work".  Please join us in praying that God will use this time to renew us in our marriage and walk with Him.
  • Gina is meeting with 4 Japanese pastors’ wives, and I’ve begun meeting with 3 new Japanese pastors/church planters for mentoring.  Both of us are feeling our weakness in new ways.  Pray that we would be a special blessing to these leaders.
  • For Our children:  Joshua & Kirsten (North of Atlanta), Josiah (Boone, NC), and Garrett (Nagoya).
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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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