Sang-Min works at the university as an administrator. He was raised in a Christian home, is single, and in his early thirties. Sang-Min continues to attend the online worship service and has informed us that he cannot participate in worship at the church because of the coronavirus, and he is too busy. It seemed that he was mentioning these concerns more as an excuse for why he cannot be actively involved in the church fellowship. We sense that he is distant from God at the moment and preferring a worldly lifestyle. Our prayer is for Sang-Min to maintain his faith in the Lord and to have genuine worship.
- Pray for Sang-Min to focus more on worship God and restoring his faith.
- Pray for our efforts to draw him into fellowship to be full of wisdom.
Kazuhiko is single, a believer, and in his early fifties. We are praying for him to continue to grow by God’s grace. We have seen Kazuhiko spiritually maturing recently. He is more open-hearted to meet with other members, actively involved in the prayer groups and visiting with people. He was transferred to a work location that is closer to his home last fall.
Choi suffered sudden abdominal pain and was examined at the hospital. At first, they were unable to identify the specific cause of her discomfort despite performing various tests. My wife, Kim, was able to attend her at the hospital. The doctors concluded that the pain resulted from stress due to Oh, Choi’s husband, being gone a lot for work at the end of the year. Otherwise, they found no specific health issues.
My wife was glad she could comfort and stay with Choi and her child at the hospital while she waited for the doctor’s advice. My wife stated that Choi was very concerned about the coronavirus epidemic and was quite shocked by the experience. Later Choi shared that she felt there was no one to rely on, but my wife was with her, and Choi felt relief from my wife’s comfort and encouragement.
Choi and my wife Kim finished reading the New Testament together at the end of the year and are continuing this year in the Old Testament. The baby Daon is so cute and is getting quite active.
- Pray for protection for this family.
- Pray for the parents, Choi and Oh, to find peace and comfort in God.
Risa played five songs on the piano for our candle service on Christmas Eve. She used to play once a month as the piano accompanist before the coronavirus time. For this special service, Risa started practicing over a month before. Due to the spread of coronavirus in Tokyo, many stayed home during Christmas week. It was just my family and Risa gathered at the church, and the others participated online for the Christmas service. Risa was thrilled to serve as the pianist, and we were happy with how the service went. She did a fantastic job despite not feeling she had enough time to practice as she has felt dizzy a lot recently.
- Pray for her health. We are encouraging Risa to read through the Bible this year.
- Pray for Risa to reestablish and grow in a personal relationship with God.
I have now spent three months in the habit of hour-long early morning prayer and Bible reading of ten chapters a day. I spent an extended quiet time during my daily devotions for a week to reflect and count God’s blessings for the past year. I decided to do a theme scripture verse for the next year. This year, I desire to know God’s will and seek spiritual growth in strengthening my faith. I appreciate your remembrance of our church in your prayers and me.
- Pray for our congregation to be true worshippers of the Lord and reflect Christ in our everyday lives. We strive to one day support pioneering churches in other areas of Japan.
Oh and Choi is a Christian couple in their thirties. We celebrated the first birthday of their daughter Daon. Because of the current covid situation, only a small group could gather. Daon was thrilled by the entire celebration. She is often running and making a joyful noise during the worship service. Occasionally she interrupts, but her adorable smiles melt our hearts. She causes everyone to smile all the time. Choi is primarily responsible for her care and is getting exhausted. She is praying for guidance. Choi has been reading through the Bible with my wife and told us that the Word comforts her.
- Pray for Daon, who is getting more active, to grow up without accidents.
- Pray for Choi to seek God’s guidance.
Risa took the licensure exam to become a certified nursery schoolteacher but unfortunately did not pass the entire exam. With every member’s prayer and support, she did her best during the two-day exam. Risa explained that her score was insufficient to pass one subject text on the first day. We were worried that she would get discouraged, but it did not take her long to refocus on taking the exam next Spring. Now Risa is determined to pass this remaining subject test the next time. She shared with us that she is more focused and confident in her next opportunity. Risa once told us that she sensed failing the exam would not be a God-honoring thing.
- Pray for God to use this entire process to cause Risa to rely only on Him.
- Pray for her to be a good witness to her family through this experience.
Last month I had my health check at the hospital. The test results came back well overall. My blood pressure and stomach are as expected, and the anemia has resolved. After discharge, I started a new habit of walking with my wife three times a week. Pray for my physical strength to be sufficient for daily ministry work. I am continuing my commitment to pray for an hour every morning and reading ten chapters in the Bible each day. I am halfway done and expect to complete the last half within this year.
- Pray for God’s will in my ministry and my spiritual growth.
Lee has finished the three-month training period as a vehicle driver in the Korean army. He was dispatched to the border, precisely the spot which caused his parents the most concern. Though Lee was born, raised, and baptized in a Christian home, we know his faith walk has not been very stable. He has been assigned to one of the tensest spots among all the bases.
- Pray for Lee to sense the peace of the Lord and not be anxious.
- Pray for Lee’s faith walk and for him to seek God’s protection and guidance in his everyday life.
- Pray for Lee to be blessed with good companions where he is stationed.
Risa had fevers twice during the month, so she took the coronavirus test. Since she works at a nursery school, she was given priority for taking the test. Fortunately, the test result was negative. But Risa still had to stay home and away from work for two weeks each time. Risa has become more alert about preventive efforts and regrets not being as conscious about the church group and preventive etiquette. Now Risa goes home immediately following the service each Sunday. We know it is not healthy for Risa or the congregation to be too anxious concerning the virus. But using appropriate measures is good as well.
- Pray for the church members, especially Risa, as we seek wisdom to cope with the prolonged ongoing new normal situation.
We had no option but to cancel the church lunch for last month because of rising concerns among the congregation concerning the coronavirus. Our worship service averaged nine people last month. I hope our decision to cancel the lunch will help in two ways: first, those refraining from coming to the on-site worship to consider coming if we only have worship time together. And for those who have been meeting in person, they will feel safer, not eating as a group.
Last month, one of the church members had two positive people in his workplace, but we heard nothing of additional safety measures. This member desired to continue to attend the on-site worship, so he consulted with his boss, and they decided to transfer him to another facility. He will be starting work at the new location in the coming month.
- Pray for this believer to meet good co-workers in this new location and positively affect them.
It will get colder in Japan in the fall and winter. The cold weather might affect the spread of the virus.
- Pray for the members of the Edogawa Shion church to stay healthy and be protected.
We believe that God will give us the grace to overcome this hardship and strengthen our faith.
Oh and Choi have been attending worship at the church again after six months of absence after their first child’s birth. Oh occasionally participated during that time. Choi and baby Daon came for the first time just recently. As a church congregation, we took extra measures to be extremely cautious around Daon with regards to the virus, but Choi is still worried about it. For three months, Choi read the Bible with my wife, and they communicated remotely. Finally, Choi decided to come to the church to attend worship.
- Pray for the couple to keep coming to the worship service without any concerns.
Chou has started reading the Bible with my wife during the summer months. She is worried about attending the church service in-person due to the concerns of her parents in China. Chou informed us that she would attend the worship online. Chou is still very anxious about the virus, and we are afraid that it might cause her to lose faith and trust in God. Therefore, I suggested that she read the Bible with my wife. In the beginning, Chou was considering attending the worship service but decided it was too difficult.
- Pray for Chou to be released from unnecessary fear towards the virus and come to the church to fellowship with believers again.
- Pray for Chou to be firm in her faith and trust in God’s sovereignty.
We have resumed our church fellowship lunch since the summer. Many of the members of our church wanted to have lunch together despite the concerns about the virus. We are a small group with an average attendance of nine people. Many of the churches in the area have only resumed their worship services, but our group wanted to enjoy more time with each other.
There were two positive cases at one of the church member’s workplaces, so we were concerned about this development. This member desired to be in fellowship with the believers, so we allowed him to join the worship service. We have not heard any other updates from this workplace. The number of positive cases in Edogawa city has been increasing.
- Pray for God’s protection over our family and our church members so that we stay healthy.
- Pray for our believers to trust God and for them to overcome this challenging situation without fear.
Chou is a believer in her thirties, is single, and works as an office clerk. Her parents have been concerned about Chou catching the coronavirus, so they asked her to stay home except for her work at the office. Chou also is worried about getting the virus and continues to show her respect to her parents by following what they have told her to do. We were concerned that Chou was not attending even internet worship via the LINE app. My wife contacted Chou several times and delivered some homemade dishes to Chou to cheer her up. Our prayer request is for Chou to find her peace in Christ and that God will calm unnecessary fear.
Dong-Yeol is in Korea as I shared in previous reports last Spring; he returned to fulfill his conscription requirement. His five-week training period is coming to an end, and then he will be assigned to a troop; his assignment will be for a year and a half. Dong-Yeol was raised in a Christian home and baptized when he was younger, but we know he misses an assurance of his faith in Christ. We hope and pray that Dong-Yeol will meet a good Christian friend while serving in the military. Pray for Dong-Yeol to rely on God more and to ask God for guidance and protection while he serves. We pray that Dong-Yeol to have a good testimony of diligence among soldiers.
Since many of the congregation desire to do so, we have resumed the church fellowship lunch. We had canceled this event for a few months over concerns about the coronavirus.
I am trying to remain mindful to discern the feelings of the congregation. Pray for the Lord’s protection over the group when we meet together at the church. We are continuing to pay attention to the public announcements and are unsure if our decision was the best. We desire to meet for worship service but at not having on-site worship yet. We still persevere in walking in the Lord and pray for our spiritual walk among daily uncertainty.
- Pray for our congregation and leaders to have wisdom as we navigate these challenges.
Edogawa Shion Church has onsite weekly worship services but has temporarily stopped our study groups and after-service lunch fellowship. The official corona-related emergency effort mandate in Tokyo has been lifted. However, I do not see the corona effects being over yet. We are waiting to resume our church fellowship lunch or Bible study till later this month or next. I still feel we are on alert mode for a while during the summer.
One of our church members had not shared with us for two weeks that there was a corona-affected co-worker at their office, out of the concern that they would lose the opportunity to attend the church service. I told this believer to share this news with the church freely so we can protect the other church members and avoid a potential cluster.
- Pray for our church members to be healthy.
- Pray for wisdom as we decide how best to get together.
Noriko is a member of Nerima Baptist Church, an affiliated sister church in the western part of Tokyo. She started attending our church since the Easter service last month. Her home church stopped holding their onsite Sunday service and is only doing online streaming because of the coronavirus concerns. Noriko does not have good internet access at her home and so prefers to join our services in the meantime. She attends every week but sometimes is late arriving and needs to leave immediately after the program to attend to family matters. Noriko keeps the sanitary regulations and is alert to avoid getting the virus. I am grateful to God that we have been a part of her life for this short time. Her home church is planning to resume their onsite worship services sometime soon.
Choi is participating in the Sunday online service through live streaming. This effort on her part has been gradually helping her to restore her faith walk. The coronavirus emergency status in Tokyo has ended. As a result, Choi is afraid, and many other people may go out of town. Her husband, Oh, is working from home till the end of the month. Choi and Oh anticipate returning to the onsite service at the church next month if circumstances get better. Choi connects with my wife through email threads; they are reading from the same place in the Bible and sharing thoughts and prayers. I hope this virtual fellowship will help Choi have consistent spiritual growth until they return to worship with us.
- Pray for God to sustain Choi and Oh this month.
All the planned ministry team trips from overseas were canceled for this year because of the coronavirus. We have no idea exactly when we will get back to normal. Under the circumstance, I know I need to motivate myself to keep up the same level of emotional and spiritual enthusiasm as we would have had with over-seas teams coming to visit.
- Pray for my energy and for me to empower our believers and visitors through spirit-filled preaching, no matter what the situations are in the world.
- Pray that I will always be spiritually awake.
Choi, who has a young baby, has been continuing the strict stay-at-home status from coronavirus concerns. Her husband, Oh, is now working solely from home as well. His fear of the virus has been building and has gradually gotten vicious and irrational. Oh informed us that he was so worried that he felt himself losing control. Thankfully, his solution was to start reading the Bible with his wife, Choi. I was happy to learn they are reading the Bible together each day. We are sharing thoughts with them on email and giving them feedback on their questions about the scriptures. I continue to pray for them. I am glad they are participating in the worship through live streaming, but they are still afraid of joining us in the church building. We have a small group of seven people who are meeting for worship.
- Pray for protection for the family of Oh and Choi.
- Pray for them to be free from their extreme fear of the coronavirus.
Chou is a single believer in her thirties and works in an office. She has been limiting her time away from her house to only her workplace from coronavirus concerns. This decision is in obedience to her parent’s advice to her. They are in China and are extremely concerned about her getting sick. I have had ongoing communication with Chou and casually invited her to attend the worship service with us. Currently, Chou continues to be cautious about going out, including any church worship, even with a small group and desires to be respectful of her parent’s expectations. She is connecting with us through online streaming.
- Pray for God’s protection for Chou and her mental wellbeing.
- Pray for her to be free from unnecessary worry about the virus.
We, as Edogawa Shion Church, have been meeting for our weekly worship service. Our church membership consists of seven people, and our average worship service size is also seven. We know that the majority of the churches around the world are not gathering due to the coronavirus prevention protocols. We do not intend to change our decision to meet together as the majority of our congregation desires to have our services in person. We are making the utmost effort to have all sanitary and hygienic gear available. As of last month, we also started online services for those who were uncomfortable attending in person. I am trying to keep a sense of unity in our congregation by doing the live streaming service at the same time as our in-person service. We are trying to keep those at church and those at home connected. We share our prayer requests and have intercessory prayer sessions together.
Corona-related emergency mandates have been extended for another month in our area. It is said that the local authorities are expecting an increase in those affected. We are hoping and praying to stay focused on God rather than this problem. It has been over two months since our supporting churches here in Japan stopped their meeting-style worship services. I know the United States and Canada have similarly canceled gatherings in person. Last month, our regular offering decreased, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Lord’s provision in receiving a gift through another channel. Praise God. Daily, we experience God’s grace, and we are counting our joy in Him.
- Pray for our congregation to remain healthy and for no one to become infected.
- Pray for our community.
- Pray for this crisis to be over soon; we are praying for you as well.
- Pray for the Pastor’s family. Our two youth are both University students, and having them at home fulltime is causing some degree of stress to my wife and me. We, as a family, are trying to be patient and courteous to each other.
- Pray for our family to have loving and caring relationships as we navigate this unique situation.
It has been two years since Dong Yeol came to Japan as an international student; he is a believer and is twenty-one. This month he had to return to Korea to join the army (South Korea practices compulsory enlistment in the military). When he arrived home, he was asked to self-isolate for two weeks. Dong Yeol was born and baptized in a Christina family. We observed that he does not know much about God, nor does he have an assurance of his salvation or faith. Dong Yeol will be staying at home for a few months before entering the military and is a beloved son in his family. We pray that he will be able to spend time alone with God in prayer, seeking His leading, guidance, and protection.
- Pray that Dong Yeol will do well in his pursuits and contribute to the military abundantly in the next eighteen months of service.
- Pray for Dong Yeol as he starts upon a new phase of his life.
- Pray for him to have an assurance of his salvation and to be firm in his faith.
We plan to hold a baptism for the Easter service for my son Yongtaek. He was baptized as an infant, but now desire baptism as a profession of his faith in God. We had the baptism preparation courses with him over four sessions, and he is well-prepared to share his testimony in front of the church congregation. Yongtaek is a junior majoring in International Christian Studies at Tokyo Christian University. He is exploring the future and searching for his calling from God. I pray that he will grow in his relationship with God, to trust God with all of his heart, and to devote his life to the Lord.
- Pray for Yongtaek as he pursues this public demonstration of his faith in God through baptism.
- Pray for his relationship with God to grow and for answers as he asks God for guidance on his role and calling in life.
We have decided to continue meeting together as a church for the weekly worship service. We know that most churches around the world are refraining from having gatherings in person due to the coronavirus pandemic. We discussed and concluded to continue to meet as a group for now; most of our congregation still wished to do so. Our services are small; usually, we have seven people. We did have three people who chose to stay home instead of coming in person, and we are keeping in touch with them using technology during our intercessory prayer time so we can share each other’s prayer requests.
We are meeting sanitary conditions and using social distancing during our services. It has been a month since other churches in Japan, and the USA that we know have stopped doing meetings in person.
- Pray for our church to stay healthy and for protection.
- Pray for guidance and alternate options for our fellowship if we do need to stop meeting in person in the future.
- Pray for God’s grace that the coronavirus crisis will be over soon.
We are also praying for you!
Choi has been super alert and concerned about the coronavirus. She and her husband have not stopped attending the church, but are limiting their going-out activities, even for daily things such as grocery shopping. I understand that they are afraid as they have a young baby, but I am also encouraging them not to panic. Choi says she is not sure why she is so fearful. The church members are praying for this family to emotionally freed from their panic.
- Pray for Choi and her husband as they adjust to being new parents.
Chou spent her vacation visiting her home in China for the Chinese New Year Holidays. While there, she stayed at her parents’ house for most of the time. There was a report that five people in Dalian where affected by the coronavirus. When she returned, her Japanese office asked her to stay home for over fourteen days until she was cleared from potential infection.
- Pray for Chou to catch up quickly on her work and for her health.
My son, Yong Taek, decided to return to our church next month. He has been serving at the Nerima Baptist Church till this month. He will be applying for our group what he has learned this past year while serving at the Sunday school.
- Pray for his junior year at school and our church to be fruitful.
We are praying for Yong Taek to pray and be guided by God in how he can service the Lord this coming year. Yong Taek was baptized as a baby, but we are planning for his baptism in April.
Thank you for your prayers for my wife. The test results came, and we learned that my wife does not have cancer. With the recent medical-related incidents, we have been spending more time thinking about our health. My wife decided to do this test after hearing of so many friends with cancer. I intend to take the same test sometime. I am determined to pay attention to my physical health.
We have our fifth-anniversary service this month; we plan to spend a longer than usual time praying for the Lord’s protection over everyone.
I plan to join other pastors from our denomination in Israel for a study tour. I heard there is the potential for the trip to be postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus effect. I was hoping to go on this trip and have been saving the funds for over two years. I desire to be obedient to God’s leading in this decision.
I have previously mentioned our church hosting a monthly open-church event for the community that translates to “Happy Nice Group.” Fukuko has coordinated getting us connected to the city officials. God is using this particular group as a way for us to meet more people in the surrounding neighborhood, and our church is becoming more well-known among the community. The most recent event was on the same day as our Kimchee bazaar. Many people stopped by both celebrations.
Fukoko came for the community event last month and the Kimchee bazaar, she seemed to enjoy eating a lot of kimchee. She returned during the week for another church activity and brought her husband. We put on jazz music during their visit as we knew it was a favorite of Fukuko’s husband. My wife came too, and the four of us had a wonderful conversation. The couple said it was a pleasant time for them, and they would like to get together again. They commented that “we know our families have different beliefs, but the time we spent together was very joyful.” We praise God for blessing our fellowship.
- Pray that our relationship with Fukoko and her husband would grow and that someday God would open the door to share the gospel with them.
Risa’s attendance at church was altered due to the extensive care her grandmother needed, as I mentioned in the last report. Recently, Risa has been able to attend the worship service on consecutive Sundays. She expressed that being unable to participate in the worship service was negatively affecting her daily life. Risa was struggling to keep herself healthy in all aspects, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Risa talked to her other family members, and they were able to coordinate a way that she could come on Sundays as she had been able to do so. It was great to see Risa joyfully worshiping God with her fellow church members. I regret that I underestimated the effect it would have on Risa to be away from the church fellowship and should have given her different advice beforehand.
- Pray for Risa to be able to attend the church consistently and for her fellowship with other believers.
Sangmin is a single man, twenty-nine, who is an administrator at the university. We are keeping in touch with him regularly. Recently, he seems to be using his busyness at work as an excuse for being absent from church. Sangmin was raised in a Christian home and had a straightforward faith walk until middle school. At that point, it seems he had a conflict with his parents and turned away from God. Sangmin wanted to be a soccer player, but his parents were not supportive of his desire and future career choice. He seems dissatisfied about losing his dream as pursuing a career a soccer player did not work out. He seems distant to his parents and to God and loves the worldly activities.
- Pray for Sangmin to repent and turn back to his faith in God. We desire that he will become close again to God and genuinely worship the Lord from his heart.
Thank you for your prayers for my wife. The doctor said she was exhausted and stressed but has almost fully recovered now. God sustained her throughout the busy Christmas season, and we survived the numerous events. Praise God.
I had a three-day prayer focused time through fasting, reflecting back on last year and anticipating the upcoming year. I acknowledge we had countless blessings, the most commemorative was adding new members to our church. Our vision for this next year is to utilize the Olympic events in Tokyo to reach more people for the Lord.
Fukuko is a local Welfare Commissioner. She is in her seventies, a housewife, and a non-believer. I met Fukuko for the first time last summer when I was handing out tracts in front of the train station. She has come to several of the church’s decoupage classes, an art craft using colored papers, and has invited other friends to this class as well. Fukuko desired our church to become a local community space and set up a meeting with the city officials to come and see the church. She coordinated several meetings between the city and the church. Last fall was the first time our church was open as a community space. These events will be once a month. People come to play games, enjoy rhythmic exercises, singing, and other activities. Quite a few elderly people have joined the group. We are not yet sure how these activities will help initiate and encourage people to attend church events. Still, we intend to participate as much as possible in this community event. We desire to build our friendship with Fukuko. We have not shared the gospel directly but are praying for opportunities to share the love of God with her.
- Pray for the open community event to encourage the local people to come into the church and to eventual start attending the worship services or church events.
- Pray for Fukuko to be saved.
It is impressive to see how a baby has impacted the group. Choi has been bringing her new baby to church with her. The baby’s name is Daon. He makes all the church members smile, and their hearts melt. We know this is the first child born to this couple, so my wife frequently accompanies Choi when she has doctor’s appointments and such. The baby did have a fever and was quite fussy, so they took Daon to the hospital.
- Pray for good health.
Praise the Lord for Daon being a blessing to his parents and to the entire church.
Risa’s grandfather passed away a couple of months ago. As a result, her grandmother was lonely since she was now by herself. The family was quite concerned about the grandmother, for she was making statements that she desired to die and go where her husband was. They were worried about dementia, and the decision was made that the grandmother should not live by herself. So the grandmother moved in with Risa. During the week, Risa’s mother takes care of the grandmother. Still, on the weekends, Risa is responsible for caring for her. This affects Risa’s schedule, and she has not been able to attend the worship services. Risa tried to participate in a portion of the worship service, but it was challenging. I gave Risa several books, some are about death and life after death. I heard that Risa’s grandmother is interested in the books and has been reading them. We are praying that someday Risa and her grandmother may come to church together for worship.
- Pray for Risa to adjust to her responsibilities to care for her grandmother and balance her job as a nursery school teacher.
- Pray for the grandmother to be open to learning about God.
It was great to have my son return home after his three-month stay in Australia. Immediately after he returned, my wife went to emergency care at the hospital for dizziness. Her blood pressure was high. After thorough tests, the results came back. The doctor is concerned that she is stressed and strained physically. Pray for my wife’s recovery. She is having a hard time resting, especially as the church is in a busy time preparing for activities.
- Pray for the pastor’s wife to be able to recover her health.
Mr. Murai, Ms. Minezaki, Ms. Saito, my wife, and I went on our tour to Korea for five days. We visited the Wednesday worship service at my sending church. We had a great fellowship time with the pastor and the group of elders who oversee the mission’s department. It was the second time for Ms. Minezaki and Ms. Saito to visit the church. They were excited to see Ms. Kim again, they met her at the Kimchee Bazaar at our church in Japan four years ago. The women exchanged gifts. Ms. Saito shared with the church elders what had been troubling her. She desires to believe in God fully, but some things are holding her back from fully committing. Ms. Saito did again commit to attend church once a month and to pray together regularly.
- Pray for Ms. Saito to have her doubts answered, to understand salvation, and to fully surrender her life to Jesus Christ.
Choi gave birth to her baby. My wife has been visiting the family each week to bring food and help with anything needed. Choi’s mother came from Korea to help her for ten days. It was a short visit, but I am sure Choi appreciated it and was able to rest and recover from the labor. Her mother and husband, Oh, came to the church service to express their thankfulness to the congregation.
- Pray for Choi and Oh as they adjust to their new role as parents.
- Pray for Choi as she continues to learn the Japanese language and to make connections with people in the church.
We completed a series of individual Bible studies with Risa using the same material we covered with Mr. Murai, produced by the Saddleback Valley Community Church group. Risa asked many questions of my wife and me, so the content we covered was more in-depth than what we had anticipated. It is exciting to see Risa’s spiritual growth. She helps my wife with ministering to the church congregation by bringing the salad to the church lunch and assist in caring for Choi. Risa appears to be cheerful and influential to the youth group as well.
- Pray for Risa to grow in her knowledge and understanding of God’s Word as we study the scriptures together.
- Pray for her spiritual growth.
We are taking a break from the individual Bible study with Kazuhiko. We had been meeting for almost two years. Neither Kazuhiko nor the congregation has recovered from the incident where Kazuhiko had an angry outburst. It is not ideal for Kazuhiko to act as if nothing had happened. He was also causing some trouble for our trip to Korea. Kazuhiko has told us that no one cares for him, and he seems jealous of the newcomers who get more attention from my wife and me.
- Pray for God to work on Kazuhiko’s selfishness and for his maturity and spiritual growth.
Lately, Risa has been getting more involved at the church. I shared her history in the previous reports. This past month, she volunteered to lead the congregational prayer during the worship service. She has brought homemade salads and goodies for our fellowship lunch, which are delicious and an immense help for my wife. She has also helped Choi on multiple occasions. Risa plays the keyboard and is genuine in her worship of God. We recently learned that she plays the keyboard in a band with her co-workers. Someday, she may become a part of our worship team. It is encouraging to see Risa joyfully serving the Lord. We are starting an individual Bible study with her on Sunday afternoons.
Kazuhiko has been attending our church for quite a while now. We thought he was doing all right in his new work environment with the company where he started last spring. We recently discovered that he is physically and emotionally stressed. One Sunday, when we were preparing for the fellowship lunch, he apparently was bothered by something because he started yelling at people and was about to walk out. My wife and I managed to calm him down, so he stayed for lunch instead of immediately leaving. The incident ruined the fellowship time, and many were shocked at this behavior. We are concerned that there has been no apology or repentance from Kuzuhiko for his conduct to the church friends. He has shared that no one cares about him and that he is jealous of the newcomers who he feels have the full attention of the pastor and the pastor’s wife.
- Pray for God to work in Kazuhiko’s heart to bring spiritual growth and maturity.
- Pray for God to work on his selfishness and change his attitude.
Pray for health and protection for Choi and her baby. Her doctor is considering guiding the labor as she is past her due date. Pray for her to have peace in God during her labor and childbirth. As I shared before, Choi is still new in town, and her comprehension of the Japanese language is quite limited, Choi is Korea.
My wife and I, along with Mr. Murai, Ms. Minezaki, and Ms. Saito, will be traveling to Korea for a short four-day trip. Our planning started last year with the desire to show the Korean churches to Mr. Murai but has grown to include the women as well. We will attend the Wednesday worship at a Presbyterian Church. I am looking forward to this trip and for my companions to experience the culture of a Korean church family fellowship.
- Pray for safety as we travel.
- Pray for this trip to encourage and strengthen the faith of the believers.
My mother is doing much better but has not yet fully recovered. These days she enjoys walking with my father. Pray for her strength.
Sumiko had promised to come to a Sunday service. She is interested in the gospel but not yet a believer. She is in her sixties and married. We were wondering if she was going to attend church, and she did and seemed to have a great time fellowshipping with everyone. There had been past times when she said she would come but had not been able to. Sumiko shared that she was glad to see Mrs. Takahashi that morning.
- Pray for Sumiko to attend the church service more often and to know the truth and her need for a Savior.
I have shared about the couple, Oh and Choi from Korea. They are believers and are expecting their first child any time now. Choi is concerned about giving birth to a baby without the support of family, relatives or friends close by as everyone is in another country. Choi also does not speak or understand much Japanese. Oh works for an IT company and usually returns late each night. It will be challenging for Choi to care for her baby as she will be alone most of the time. My wife was a nurse in Korea and Choi has been relying upon my wife’s experience and support. My wife has been helping Choi prepare and purchase the necessities for the baby.
- Pray for Choi, for protection and health for her and the baby.
- Pray for Choi as she adjusts to being a mother, especially being far from family.
In previous reports, I shared about Risa, who tries to be a perfectionist in her daily faith walk. These days, we have seen her trying to intentionally relax in the Lord. I am hoping we can support her in resting in God and ending the long process of obsession and reliance on her human effort. We are hoping to start a Bible study with her. Risa likes to worship with the hymn and traditional worship songs; lately, she has discovered the more contemporary type of worship music and has been taking these music songs home to enjoy worship on her own.
- Pray for Risa to be encouraged in her daily reading of God’s Word and to find assurance in Him.
- Pray for her to rest in the arms of God.
During the summer, my mother was at the hospital in critical condition. My mom was going to have minor surgery, so my wife traveled back to Korea to see my mother, who was in the ICU for five days and then transferred to a regular hospital room. At the same time, my son was on his way to Australia for three months. It was a challenging time for our whole family. We are thankful that my son went to Australia according to his original plan. My wife then came home. We have always been intentional in praying for our family in Korea on a regular basis but this event has caused me to be more determined to bring them to the Lord in prayer. Pray for my focus on my ministry at this time. I plan to visit Korea with my wife and also take Mr. Murai and Ms. Minezaki, pray for our trip.
- Pray for the family of the pastor and safety for everyone as they travel.
- Pray for wisdom in decisions and comfort during these challenging times.
Fumiko has been coming to the Korean language class once a month with her friend Sumiko. Fumiko is in her late sixties, married, and works part-time. She is not yet a believer but has shown an interest in the gospel message. At a recent session of the Korean Language class, my wife was led by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with Fumiko and Sumiko, more boldly than ever before. They were eagerly listening and comprehended what she was explaining to them. Both ladies expressed the desire to attend the Sunday worship but admitted it might be challenging because of their family responsibilities. Fumiko did promise to come once a month. Pray for Fumiko and Sumiko to follow through on attending the worship service on the set day they said and for them to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Fumiko and Sumiko to understand their need for a Savior and proclaim faith in God.
Oh and Choi is a married couple from Korea. They are in their thirties and are believers who have been attending our church for just over a month. Oh works for an IT company in Japan and they recently were married. Choi is eight-months pregnant. She did not understand any Japanese at all and assumed our service would be held in Korean since we have a Korean preacher at our church. So we presumed that they would not return after their first visit. However, they have regularly been attending. They expressed their desire to attend a local church as this would help their adjustment to everyday local life in Japan. I give Choi a copy of my script for preaching with both the Japanese translation and my native tongue of Korean to help her understand. Oh plays the guitar and Choi is a piano accompanist. They were both active in their worship team at their home church in Korea. I dream of forming a worship team at our church.
- Pay for Oh and Choi to adjust to life in Japan.
- Pray for a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
- Pray for them to continue to attend our church if this is the Lord’s will.
We intentionally developed a relationship with Risa over the past two months and have gotten to know her better. She shared parts of her story, some of it was shocking to us. A long time ago, Risa was a psychic fortune teller but ended up becoming paranoid and attacked by evil spirits for an extended period. Through these experiences, Risa started to seek the truth and light and wanted to go to a Christian church. At the church she first joined, she participated in the baptism prep course from the first day. After six months, she was baptized. We have observed that Risa is a ‘do-er’ in her faith walk and sometimes appears to be a perfectionist. She is concerned with doing kind things for others and trying to make all things right. I could imagine that Risa has been emotionally and physically strained and burnt out before. Risa stated that she blames herself for not being good enough and has been disappointed with herself for being selfish. We appreciate your prayers for Risa to find comfort and peace in God. We are advising her to trust in God and relax. She is eager to participate in many church activities, but we have encouraged her to do one slow step at a time.
- Pray for Risa to rest in her assurance of salvation by faith alone in God.
- Pray for her to understand the difference between ministry done from love for God and good works done from the desire to earn salvation.
- Pray for peace and comfort from God as she navigates her role at this time in the church.
Four years have passed since the start of our group as a church plant. The financial support from our mother church was terminated earlier this year, according to the prior agreement. We are not fully self-reliant yet, but God has led quite a few people to give generously. We are thankful for God leading our church. I feel that I can focus on ministry and not be stressed. My wife recently stopped working outside the church and is focusing on her roles in the church. She enjoys entertaining people as she has a gift for hospitality. We spend more time together serving at the church, and we pray for each member in our group and discuss our projects.
- Pray for my wife and me to grow in Christ and for wisdom and guidance from God through our devotion and early morning prayer time.
Risa came for the first time to the Sunday worship service last month and has continued to come every week since. She also has come to the early morning prayer meeting several times a week. Risa is the only Christian in her family of three and had been attending another church but wanted to get connected to a group within ten minutes of her home and found us online. Risa shared that she had been so busy serving at the other church that she got burnt out and now has health issues. She states she is recovering from this experience and is not planning to go back to the other group.
- Pray for Risa to be healed physically and spiritually.
Chou is back in Japan and working full-time for the same company. It has taken her a while to adjust back to the work schedule. She is praying about whether to stay with this company or to start looking for new work elsewhere.
- Pray for God to guide Chou as she prays about the best and most appropriate workplace for her.
Miyuki is with the group Edogawa Shion from our parent group Nerima Baptist Church. Recently her husband was diagnosed with cancer. His surgery went well, and he is expected to be back at work soon. Their youngest daughter recently had a baby, it was a very challenging and overwhelming event in their lives. Miyuki is quite busy caring for her daughters, and her second daughter is getting married soon. Miyuki is busy traveling from Hokkaido (the Northern edge of Japan) and Tokyo. She plans to retire from nursing this month to be able to attend to her family more.
- Pray for God to sustain Miyuki. We are trusting and believing in God’s grace on Miyuki for her walk with Christ to be preserved.
- Pray for Miyuki to rely on God for peace through these life transitions.
There is a cult group that opened recently about a ten-minute walk from the church. They are a group that originated in Korea, called CGM in Japan or JMS in Korea. We have had quite a few stories of people who got in trouble through this group in Korea. They have renovated a five-story building into their facility, it was formerly a Pinball machine game place.
- Pray for our believers at the church to not be affected by this new cult group.
- Pray for the reputation of true believers in Jesus Christ throughout Japan to not be tainted by the negative reputation of this cult group.
Sumiko came to the Korean Cooking group. She is in her sixties and married. She has a warm and welcoming heart, especially to new people. I saw how she positively contributed to the group, one newcomer was very comfortable and grateful to Sumiko for welcoming her. Sumiko has not yet professed faith but we feel a closeness to her as she is very open in comparison to other people. We know that she is retiring from work this month. We are encouraging her to attend the Sunday service after retirement as she was not able to do so because of work.
- Pray for Sumiko to come to an understanding of her need for a Savior and to proclaim faith in Jesus Christ.
- Pray for her warm nature to continue to welcome people.
Chou has come back to Japan, we held a welcome-back barbeque for her as a church on the roof terrace of the church building. She found a rental house quite quickly and we helped her to purchase the necessary household goods as she knew she would be busy soon with work. We helped her move in and get settled. Please remember her in your prayers so she may adjust to the new setting at work and for her to continue to trust in the Lord.
- Pray for Chou to grow in her faith and to attend the church regularly.
- Pray for her adjustment to being home after sending time in China for work and praise the Lord for answering our prayers for her housing situation.
Miyuki is in her sixties, married and is a nurse by profession. Her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer. At first, this news shook the entire family but later we heard that Miyuki is standing firm in trusting God. We understand that the family has drawn together and being united in prayer. The news of the surgery was good.
- Pray for the Aoki family as they face this challenge together.
- Pray for our continued outreach and support to them through this time and for this event to draw them closer to God.
My father in Korea had surgery and it went well. He is back home now which makes it easier for my mother to care for him. It sounds like it might take a while for my father to fully recover, but I have been relieved by the updates of him getting better daily. My father is not a believer, please pray for him to believe in God and for him to understand and encourage my role in ministry. My mother is the only one who can care for my father, so I pray for her to have strength.
- Pray for the pastor’s parents to be strong physically and to draw closer to God at this time.
- Pray for the pastor’s father to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Chou has been in China for work but is scheduled to return to Japan soon. We are praying that her company will not postpone her trip back any longer. Chou started to search for housing on the internet, and my wife is helping her with this process.
- Pray for Chou to settle back into Japan smoothly.
- Pray for her faith to be strengthened in this changing season of her life.
Kazuhiko recently faced some substantial changes at work. He has a new boss, and some of his co-workers transferred. His heart was troubled by these changes, and we could see that the situation was causing him stress. At my weekly Bible study and mentor time with Kazuhiko, he realized how work was affecting his faith. He stated his realization of his lack of thankfulness, and even though God provided his job, he realized he was turning away from God because of his stress from work. It was encouraging to see that Kazuhiko is recovering from this stress, repenting and refocusing on God, and being thankful for his new boss.
- Pray for Kazuhiko as he adjusts to these changes in work and for his witness to his co-workers and boss through his actions and words.
My daughter, Hannah, was baptized on Easter Sunday. We did four sessions of baptism preparation with her focusing on the assurance of salvation, forgiveness for sins and spent reflecting time as a new believer on what it means to have spiritual growth in a church setting. Hannah grew up in the church. She was touched to receive many kind notes from church brothers and sisters, both here in Japan and in Korea, celebrating the occasion of her baptism. I have noticed that she is still getting used to her new life as a university student. At church, she is helping her brother in ministry.
- Pray for Hannah to maintain sustainability on campus with her studies and activities in addition to ministry at church.
- Pray for the complete recovery of my father from his surgery. It went well. He is in Korea.
Four years have passed since the initial church planting stage of our group, Edogawa Shion church. The financial support from our mother church has officially ended. I attended the annual assembly last month and gave a greeting and appreciation message to the congregation. We are thankful for their support for the past years. We rely on God to sustain us. We are confident that God will lead our church and provide the resources we need to grow and reach our community with the love of God.
- Pray for our church at this time of transition.
- Pray for our outreach to the community.
We praise God for my daughter, Hannah, who just started at the International Christian University. We are thankful that the reception event at ICU was a worship service, a rare occurrence for Japan. The president and the majority of the faculty are Christians. As a father, I am so grateful for my daughter and how God led her to this school. We are doing a baptism class with Hannah, and she was baptized at our Easter service.
My son is a student at Tokyo Christian University, and we had a farewell gathering for him at our church. We gave thanks with many prayers for his ministry this past year. He will be serving at Nerima Baptist Church for a year. He is praying for God’s guidance in what his calling is in the future as he serves in different roles at the new location, one of these roles will be teaching in the Sunday school.
- Pray for Hannah to do well in school and for her spiritual growth.
- Pray for the Pastor’s son as he starts a new journey at the Nerima Baptist Church
- Pray for the Pastor’s family as they adjust to these transitions. The pastor’s wife recently stopped her part-time job, pray for this new season of life for her.
- Pray for comfort and joy for the Pastor and his wife as they see their children grow strong in the faith.
- Pray for the pastor’s father who is scheduled for another surgery. See past reports with regards to his medical condition.
In past reports, I shared about Chou and her work situation. She is in China for a work trip that extended longer than initially planned. She was scheduled to return to Japan for a visit at the end of the last month, but this was postponed until May. The company has made these decisions, and Chou has little influence. We are concerned that she will lose all hope of returning to Japan.
- Pray for Chou to return to Japan and for her spiritual growth.
- Pray for her faith to be firm during this time while she is away.
- Pray for her to stay in contact with the church and with believers.
Continue to pray for our church as we are transitioning to being financially independent of our mother church, Nerima Baptist Church. Our four years as a church plant have passed. We know it will be challenging for a while as the leaders of the church take on more responsibilities to keep us going. We have five church members with our average worship attendance being seven people. [Editor’s note: This is the typical size of a Japanese church in Japan.] We rely on God for this situation and for sustaining us as a church to reach our community with the gospel.
- Pray for the church as they transition to this new stage of their growth.
- Pray for the leaders to rely on God for guidance and wisdom.
- Pray for the pastor to not grow weary as he continues to reach his people with the gospel.
As we shared in previous reports, Chou has been in China for a business trip. The length of time has been longer than she expected, and she desires to return to Japan. We have heard that she will be back in Japan at the end of this month for a brief time. The purpose of this trip is for her to be notified of the company’s projects for the next season. We are excited to see her soon but disappointed that this will be a short trip rather than a return to Japan. Pray for Chou, we are concerned that she lacks connections with other believers when she is in China. We pray for her to stay in touch with us and to return to Japan soon, especially for the sake of her spiritual growth.
- Pray for Chou as she is working in another country and for her to stay encouraged and firm in her faith.
- Pray for her to connect with believers and for her stay to stry connected with her church in Japan.
I share with great joy and pride that my daughter Hannah has been prayerfully preparing for college. She desires to study in a field that allows her to serve her society, community and the church. She chose to apply to the International Christian University in suburban Tokyo. She passed the entrance exam and was accepted at ICU. Praise the Lord! She has received an academic scholarship for four years. My son is attending Tokyo Christian University. God is good, and I rejoice that both my son and daughter are going to Christian Universities. Hannah has decided to be baptized, and we schedule this joyous occasion for Easter Sunday. We started the baptism prep class with Hannah. I shared with the believers in our supporting communities about my daughter’s baptism and enrolling in school, and everyone praised the Lord.
- Pray for Hannah as she prepares for this transition to a new stage in life.
- Pray for her faith to grow.
Praise the Lord for the joy of a pastor’s daughter choosing to declare her faith through baptism and by attending a Christian school.
Kazuhiko is thriving at work. He is popular with the residents and patients at the facility and well-appreciated by fellow workers. In previous reports I shared his story and ever since he was baptized last year, he has been faithfully tithing ten percent of his earnings. He often shares with us the joy he feels when giving to the Lord. We see his eagerness to draw closer to the Lord. He is attending Bible study again after being absent to adjust to his work schedule.
- Pray for Kazuhiko as he grows in his faith through learning from God’s Word.
- Pray for his work with the disabled to bring joy to the Lord and for his desire to someday marry a Christian woman.
Thank you for your prayers. We are entering a new phase in our church as it is time for us to be financially independent of our parent church, Nerima Baptist Church. We are not self-reliant yet, but as the five years have passed, it is time. At our anniversary celebration in February, we had an extended prayer time to reinforce and declare our trust and reliance on God for the future. We are thankful for White Fields and our parent church for their support and prayers.
Pray for the congregation of Edogawa Shion Baptist Church to have faith and trust as they transition to a new phase in their church. Pray for the believers to have unity and to give as they are able to support their church and their pastor. Pray for wisdom and reassurance as they pray for God’s guidance.
Last month there was a combined worship service for the Tokyo region of our denomination held at Narima Baptist Church. After the service, they held a Coming of Age celebration for my son Yongtaek and the other youth who are turning twenty this year. In Japan, this ceremony is typical to have mid-January for those who are becoming adults. My son is serving as an intern at a new church and had an excellent meeting with his mentoring pastor. His prayer request is to be able to balance his academics, serving opportunities, and a part-time job.
- Pray for Chou to stand firm in her faith as she waits to return to Japan. Pray for comfort and peace for Chou.
- Pray for Yongtaek to do well in his studies as he prepares to serve in the ministry.
Kazuhiko finished training at his job and has been well-accepted by the facility and patients. He works for a facility specializing in patients with severe mental disorders. The patient families have unrealistic expectations which cause a stressful work environment for some. Kazuhiko believes it is God’s blessing that he has already established good relationships with the workers and patients and is looking for opportunities to witness and tell others about Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Kazuhiko to have discernment and wisdom in his conversations with his co-workers and those he cares for.
- Pray for the church as we have been in existence for five years now and are trusting that God will provide for us to be financially independent of our parent church, Nerima Baptist Church, according to the original plan set in place for our church.
- Pray for peace for the Pastor and his family as they work through these details and trust God to provide.
Pray for my daughter Hannah, as she studies for entrance exams for college this month. Pray for perseverance. She desires to serve God and the church community in the future.