2019 Summer Update

Dear Beloved in Christ and Partner in the Gospel,

Grace and peace to you!  Sorry it's been so long since our last update.  A number of things have happened since then but we're especially excited to share with you one account of how God has been working among our local church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ--our spiritual family!

Since December of last year, we’ve been blessed to have Judy as part of our fellowship.  We met her through a Christmas outreach event and since that time she’s been a loving, caring presence to everyone in the church.  Alongside her graduate studies, she has also been working hard in her part time job.  One day, she was talking with one of her coworkers, Han, and felt from the Holy Spirit that she should invite him to church. Despite various doubts, she said “yes” to the Lord, inviting him to join our fellowship.  As for Han, he said “yes,” visiting us for the first time in mid-May.

From the first time we met Han, he was very open about feeling lost, without a sense of purpose or direction in life.  From our earliest conversations, we shared with him about Jesus and what He has done for us through the gospel.  As weeks passed, he continued these conversations with Judy and others in the church.  While he always listened intently and asked insightful questions, he just wasn’t ready to follow Jesus.  One night at church he shared the following: “A teacher in Korea was struggling with the question of ‘whether she was Korean or Japanese.’ When she brought this question to God, He answered: ‘You are a child of God.’”  Later I asked him why he shared about that teacher. He replied, “Because I want that for myself. I want to hear that from God.”   

Han, Shoko and Michiyo on Retreat!

A few weeks later, we gathered, along with Han, for our second annual church retreat (hooray!).  We enjoyed a wonderful time of encouragement from the word, equipping with some helpful spiritual tools and a whole lot of fun.  During lunch, we asked Han how he was enjoying the retreat and how he felt God was working in his life.  He answered saying that the retreat was great but he was waiting to have an encounter with God.  From there the group launched into a dynamic conversation about how we have experienced God in our lives.

The next day during a study session each person was challenged to ask the Lord, “What does it look like for us to trust and follow him as a church today?” When it came to Han’s turn, he hesitated.  Just when it felt time to move on, he began to speak, “When I asked God what he wanted, he answered, ‘Just you’. I want to become a Christian.” Han had been waiting eagerly to hear from the Lord, and the Lord answered his prayer to the encouragement of the entire church.

After the retreat we began to ask Han about baptism.  I summarized it briefly for him and asked if he would be interested.  He replied, “If God wants me to do it, I will do it!”  All I can say is, praise God for Han’s simple and pure faith!  We’re humbled to witness the Lord working through Judy, the local church and Han’s beginning steps of faith.

You’re a part of Han’s story.  Thank you for faithfully walking alongside us in partnership and prayer!

Recent Events & Prayer Requests

Family Life

We are returning to the States in October for a 7-month home assignment! We are excited to be with family again and hopefully reconnect with you all.  …in the meantime, please pray for us during this very busy month!  We are moving out of our apartment and putting everything into storage.  This was a hard decision for us, because we love our cozy little home!  But God has given us peace that He will provide another home when we return to Tokyo next Spring.  Pray for good closure during these remaining weeks in this home.  

Spending time with Brooke's classmate and family!

Team Life  

The Nakazawa family has returned from their summer home-assignment—what a joy to have them back!  We look forward to Michiyo’s return soon as well.  Meanwhile, Kevin and Adam are both preparing for a season of transitioning to long term, also headed back to the States this Autumn.  Please pray for continued unity, and for encouragement for Michiyo and the Nakazawas while they continue in ministry alone for a time.  

Celebrating Bonnie and John's Birthday!

Community Life

The past couple of months God has orchestrated a family Bible study with one of Brooke’s classmates, Natsumi and her family.  Please pray that they can connect with other believers and continue to read God’s Word while we are gone.  Please also lift up our small-church group, which will begin meeting in Michiyo’s home this month.  We have gone through some transitions, with a couple members moving away, but have happily welcomed Han and also a young woman named Shoko into the group and continue to be a tight-knit community.  

Church Retreat

Sending off our dear sister Anita

In His love,

John, Jo Beth, Brooke & Bonnie

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Find past updates, additional photos and
more information at Jo-John.com