Monday, June 22, 2009

Black Gospel and What?

Black gospel and traditional Japanese drums, that's what! This past Saturday I attended the joint choir Gospel Concert that included many of our church workshop members. It takes a bit of creativity to pull off a mix of gospel music and Japanese drums, but it turned out very well. Typically drums will perform at Japanese festivals, which include religious aspects that are not altogether sanctified. But here we have redeemed them for the gospel. Literally. Take a look at this video link to get an idea.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Future Partners in Ministry

A missionary can only do so much. Eventually a missionary needs to bring a national partner into the work begun, and begin to turn over leadership if it is to grow in a culturally healthy way.

This is true in our ministry. The church plant has grown over the past several years by God's grace and your prayer, but the time is now right for national leadership for the Denen Grace Chapel. But it is critical that the individual share a common vision with those in our church ministry!

Enter Pastor Kondo. He has a vision to work together with a missionary to reach more Japanese for Christ, and plant more churches. He’s spent 18 years overseas, and 13 years in church planting work (a Japanese church in Connecticut). He’s in his 50’s, but has the heart of a teenager in his energy for Christ. Last month, Denen Grace Chapel called him to begin as senior pastor from January 2010.

We had not anticipated God to work this way even a year ago, but Pastor Kondo’s passion for Japanese saved abroad who return to Japan, dovetailed with the vision for Denen Grace Chapel. We look forward to what God has ahead for us together.

Would you hold us in prayer as we discuss how our teamwork can more effectively reach more Japanese for Christ, and lay the groundwork for future church planting together with Denen?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kaori!

Happy Birthday, Kaori! My wonderful wife (apologies for the last post) has added another year of wisdom to beauty to her resume. Our youth came and presented her with a special cake, layered with all kinds of fruit and jello as only the Japanese can do to a birthday cake. Since they start counting from age 0 in Japan, we're not quite sure of Kaori's exact age. And she wants to keep it that way! I've known her for 18 years now, so I am sure that she is at least a teenager. Again, happy birthday, Kaori!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Wife's a Blockhead!

It's true. She's a blockhead. But let me hurry to explain. Kaori recently accepted the responsibility of head of our block, or "chounaikaichou." Japan is broken down into ever smaller circles of government. The prefectural office -> the city office -> the ward office...and so it goes. At the end of the food chain is the neighborhood group. Within the neighborhood groups are individual blocks of, say, a dozen houses or a couple small apartment buildings. This becomes the "chounaikai" or block group.

The block group is responsibility for caring for the many somewhat smaller matters that concern these households. For example, policing the garbage pile, cleaning up the street trash, requesting the replacement of burned out street lamps, posting neighborhood announcements, collecting various donations and dues, and so forth. The head of the block group, the blockhead, is rotated amongst the households from year to year. This year it became Kaori's turn.

She's taken to the new responsibility eagerly. The awesome power certainly has not gone to her head. Quite honestly, she the nicest blockhead I've ever met.

Seriously though, it is a nice way to get around to meet the neighbors and get to build relationships. And that is always step one in personal evangelism. So...we are grateful to God for the opportunity. She might just want to stay Mrs. Blockhead for awhile! She quick to remind me, though, that this makes me Mr. Blockhead.