May 2014 - Update

Attending the wedding of our friend, Akiko-chan

Dear Family, Friends and Partners in the Gospel, 

How are you doing? We hope this note finds you well! After a very busy month, it’s hard to decide what to share with you: we attended our first Japanese wedding, hosted our first short-term prayer team, enjoyed a church picnic with some of our unbelieving friends, and attended a conference on church revitalization. I wish we could sit down with you and share how God has worked through each of these events! With limited space, however, we’d like to highlight what God taught us at the conference in Nikko, “Embers to a Flame.” We’d heard and seen about the urgent need for revival among churches in Japan, so, when the offer came, we jumped on the chance to learn about how God might use this opportunity for His kingdom!

Lake Chuzenji in Nikko, Japan

We pulled up at the beautiful Christian retreat center wearing shorts and flip-flops, expecting to be greeted by a mix of church leaders and foreign missionaries like ourselves. Instead, we got out of the car and sheepishly bowed our way through a gathering crowd of Japanese pastors, outfitted with the standard suit and tie. And, of course, we ‘orphans’ wandering off the street into the chapel, were greeted with politeness. “Hey honey,” I asked John, “…is this going to be in English at all?” “Ahhhm...I THINK so…”

Kingdom workers from all over Japan gather to hear about church revival!

Once we got settled, however, we were so glad we had come: Not only was the language barrier minimal, but God opened our eyes to the biblical mandate of church revitalization. One of the first things the speaker, Dr. Reeder, said was, “Church planting is wonderful, but, alongside the hundreds of new churches being planted, even more churches are closing each year. Let’s keep planting churches, but let’s see less churches close.” He took us on a journey led by scripture at every point, sharing how the Apostle Paul focused not only on planting churches but also in keeping churches healthy.

Dr. Harry Reeder

And there we were, surrounded by pastors from throughout the nation whose hearts resonated deeply with this need. They were hungry to see revival! And God was faithfully providing the biblical basis for ushering it in. Please join us in prayer for these pastors and their congregations—that God will bring repentance and renewal. Pray also that John’s new relationships with a few of the pastors will be fruitful for encouragement and revival for God’s kingdom. To God be the glory!

In His Love,

John & Jo Beth

Printing this newsletter? Click HERE for a PDF version!

Our friends attend church for the first time!
(A special service in the park for Mothers' Day)

Praying on the Yamanote line for Tokyo with missionaries from Japan and Ukraine