2017 - January Update

Dear Partners in the Gospel,

Happy New Year!  Our family has had a month full of ups and downs.  On Christmas Eve Jo Beth was in a serious car accident—we are praising God for his miraculous protection, that no one was badly hurt!  Then just a few days later we moved into our new apartment.  Shortly after we moved, John started at language school.  As our teammate Shige reminded us, “The roller coaster is secure—just fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.”  Meaning, God has orchestrated our circumstances for good, so we need not fear or worry; he is in control!  We hope this image might encourage you the way it has encouraged us in these tumultuous weeks. 

Jo Beth's car after the collision

During the past couple of months we found many potential apartments in the Waseda area with growing excitement for how the Lord could use our family and each location for ministry.  With the help of our teammate, Shige Nakazawa, we spoke with several realtors about these properties.  For most of them we were not allowed to even apply for them as the realtors and landlords realized that we were foreigners and/or Christian missionaries.  For the most part, when we share our faith with people in Japan, most of the rejection we face is shrouded in politeness and followed by silence.  Yet the rejection we faced, so bluntly delivered, stirred up feelings of injustice—threatening to fill our hearts with defensive pride or unbelieving shame.  As God redeemed these tumultuous times in our hearts, He brought us through our defensiveness and impassioned us with His love.  We thank the Lord for these reminders: that we are in this world but not of this world, that Satan’s kingdom is real—against which we wrestle by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that those very individuals who rejected the “us” are a few of the very reasons why the Lord has brought our team to this neighborhood!  Please pray that each of these lessons would bear fruit for the gospel through our lives.

Saying goodbye to our old place...

Though it was discouraging to hear the words of rejection, we are now thankful that God gave us such clear answers!  Seeking Him in prayer, God soon after opened a door for us to submit an application.  Our request was quickly accepted and we were able to move in by December 28th. He answered your prayers for our living situation, and we are very excited to finally be living in the Waseda area!  We live on the 2nd floor of an 11 story apartment complex, and we are especially thankful for big windows that reveal a patch of sky and some trees even here in this urban jungle.  Now we are just a ten-minute walk away from the Nakazawa family’s home where we continue to hold ‘start up group’ worship meetings, which have been a precious gift of encouragement to us.  Our teammate Lisa also moved into the neighborhood last week, which is another blessing. 

...and hello to our new place!
This hallway is where we will visit door-to-door to introduce ourselves to our neighbors.

We haven’t met many of our neighbors yet but look forward to taking ‘ai-sa-tsu’ or ‘greeting’ gifts to them soon.  We’re excited to take advantage of this tradition that allows us to take small gifts to the people who live on our floor.  Please pray that these visits would begin relationships that allow us to demonstrate and speak the gospel.

One of the reasons we planned to move is to be closer to potential language schools.  Though the timing of our move only allowed short-notice for school admissions, God provided a single language school open for John’s enrollment.  Jo Beth plans to begin her studies in February.  This next year will be focused on language study as we begin with traditional classes then transition to focus on heart-to-heart conversation.  For many reasons, it’s already been a difficult season, but we know the Lord directs our steps.

We are so thankful for your prayers, caring notes and support.  May God bless and keep you in this new year!  And please let us know how we can be praying for you as well.

John, Jo Beth & Brooke Lee

Sharing Christmas with loved-ones...

Prayer Needs

  • Pray for Kobayashi-san, the other driver in the car accident, that he might be drawn to the Gospel through these events.

  • Please pray for our “aisatsu” visits, that neighbors’ hearts would be prepared to hear and receive the Good News!

  • Please pray for John’s progress in language school. Pray for his witness to be bold as God gives him opportunity to share about Jesus with his teachers and classmates

  • It seems we have been busy with something that "needs" to get done nearly every day and certainly every week.  Though ministry always comes with surprises, we are praying for a broad sense of rhythm in our studies, family life and ministry.  Please pray for wisdom as we take each decision before the Lord to know when to say 'no', 'yes', and 'not yet'. 

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