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" give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."
(Isaiah 61:3)
Spring is coming - we've been seeing the signs!  The days are a little longer.  Last week at the dinner table, Josiah pointed out, "It's still bright outside!"  Temperatures are on the rise, and we've even seen some early flowers blooming around town.  If those signs weren't clear enough, there's another that's irrefutable.  The Starbucks stores in Nagoya have began selling their 2019 line of "Sakura Cups" (sakura=Japanese cherry trees).  It always makes me happy to see those cups hit the shelves.  The new life of Spring is just around the corner!

We're also seeing God bring new life and growth within our circles of friends here in Japan.  We see the Spirit drawing men and women to Christ AND expanding the work that we've been doing over these past few years.  Here are some examples to encourage you and help you pray:
  • In our last update, I told you about a young mother (H-san) who approached me after a worship service to profess her new faith in Christ.  We've now completed her baptism preparation and have plans to baptize her on March 17th!
  • Thank you for praying for Grace Week in February.  Around 25 missionaries and leaders attended the conference, and we spent the week drinking from the life-giving water of the Gospel through times of teaching, small groups, and one-on-one mentoring.  The Spirit was so merciful during the week, and it was evident that he was working to bring hope, strength, and new life to these dear Kingdom workers...and also to those of us who were leading the week!  In May, we will hold our first version of Grace Week presented entirely in Japanese!
  • We are currently taking steps to ordain Yu-san as a pastor at ANF.  By April, we hope to complete a process of formal examination and see the church call him to officially lead our downtown campus.  
  • A partnering church in the US wants to help launch a NEW work in Nagoya, and they imagine that Hide-san (our Nagakute apprentice) may be the right candidate to lead the church plant.  This is exactly the way we have dreamed about training and sending out these church planting apprentices! It's been fun to dream with our staff and leaders about how leaders and churches can remain connected and work together in the future.
  • After a recent service in Nagakute, I invited those interested in a new "baptism class" to join me in the lobby.  Members of 5 different families followed me out!  Some were Christians whose children are asking to be baptized.  Others were new (or "almost") believers who are seriously considering Christ and baptism.  We'll begin those classes right after H-san's baptism in March.  It looks like she might be the first of several new professions of faith in Nagakute!
I hope this encourages you.  Together with you, we are serving among one of the largest unreached peoples on the globe.  Less than 1% are professing believers.  Existing churches are in decline.  Even in Japan, Nagoya is considered a difficult city for missions.  Yet the Lord is working mightily through our partnership!  Thank you for standing together with us in this calling.  Thank you for your continued prayers, gifts, support, and notes of encouragement.  You are all such a blessing to our family and to this spiritually dark land.  Let's continue to pray and expect the Holy Spirit to be bringing New Life from what is dead, beauty for ashes, and gladness instead of mourning.  That  God may be gloried!
More Answers to Prayers

As a family, we've asked you to join us in praying for some big, personal needs since we arrived in August.  God has also been gracious to answer our prayers in these areas, and it seems good to list examples here:
  • Everyone has visas!  
  • We're in a terrific apartment with lots of natural light and in exactly the location we'd hoped.  The apartment is also big enough to host friends.  What a blessing!
  • The repairs to our home in Asheboro were completed in early February.  Our insurance company eventually stood behind repairing all of the damage, and the contractor was a pleasure to work with.  FYI - the contractor who repaired the house was a direct referral by one of you!  Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions and offered to help!
  • As soon as the repairs were complete, we listed our (Asheboro) home with a realtor. Within 36 hours of listing, we had shown the house 3 times and were already under contract!  We expect to close in another week.  We even have a backup offer!

The past few months have been really busy, and we are woefully behind in our bookkeeping and correspondence.  On the surface, it appears that our account at Serge is tracking very closely with our expectations.  For those of you who made special year-end contributions, have recently come on board as givers, or have recently raised your level of giving...THANK YOU.  We'll endeavor to communicate with you more "personally" very soon!  We're incredibly grateful for your support.
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For your Continued Praying...
  • Pray for the individuals and families in Nagakute who are considering baptism.  Of course, each person is at a different place in their walk with Christ.  Some are already believers and others are wrestling with faith and doubt.  Ask the Spirit to draw them to Christ and give them faith and repentance that leads to Life.
  • We are currently working on ANF's annual budget for 2019-20.  ANF's budget always feels like Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 or the widow's oil.  Our resources seem pretty puny, but God makes it all work.  This year looks especially tight, and we will need to raise some outside funds for each campus.  Will you pray for wisdom for me and the other leaders at ANF as we make a financial plan?  Also, please pray for unity, faith, and generosity among the congregation as we meet to approve the budget in April.
  • Aside from the budget, we hope that ANF is on the cusp of calling a pastor (Yu Eguchi) and additional elder for the Downtown campus.  We'll be discussing all of this with the church over the next few weeks.  Again, would you be praying for unity, wisdom, and sensitivity to the Spirit's leadership as we take these important next steps as a church?
  • Despite all of the encouraging details in this report, I've struggled with a lot of fear and worry over the past few months.  As many of you know, I lean that way during the winter, so the longer days of Spring are welcome right now.  However, my boss recently reminded me of the reality of the spiritual war that's raging around us here.  Would you pray for us to be protected from the devil's attacks and especially for my heart this month?  I need that.
  • As always, Gina and I appreciate your intercession for our marriage and for our boys.  All three boys are doing well.  They have good relationships and are enjoying school this year.  Josiah and I are planning a short backpacking trip over Spring break.  Pray for that time!

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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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