We’re praising God for the safe delivery of our third child, Silas 新(Arata) Robison. He’s named after the apostle Paul’s partner in his second missionary journey and his middle name, Arata, means “New” in Japanese, and reminds of us the new life that we have through Christ.
The delivery was very smooth, and very quick, Silas was born less than three hours after we arrived at the hospital. Tomo has been recovering well, but we’re all adjusting to having three little kids in the house, and new sleep schedules (all of us are getting less of it). Thankfully I was able to take about two weeks off to help Tomo around the house and watch the kids. Titus and Felicity seem to be quite taken with their baby brother and fight over who gets to hold him every day.
Last month I started meeting with a new believer at our church to study the Bible together one on one. This is my first time being able to do something like this in Japanese, and while it’s difficult, we both seem to be benefiting from the fellowship and the chance to talk about God’s word as we read through the book of Romans.
Recently our church has been having more English speaking visitors, and the Monthly English Bible Study has been growing. Many of the participants are English teachers who are in Japan for a period of one to three years, and are eager to serve and help out in the church, and have been a large source of blessing.
I’m preparing to preach again on April 30th, and as usual this requires a lot of time. I need to study the passage, outline and summarize my sermon in English, and then write it in Japanese. After that’s done I’ll get someone to check it and correct the inevitable mountain of grammatical errors, and then spend at least a week practicing it so I don’t stumble over the words. Please pray that I can prepare well, and that the sermon will be an encouragement to those who hear. I’ll be preaching from Philippians 2:1-11, focusing on the first two verses:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
A band from a church in Singapore came to visit one of the temporary housing parks that the Iwate 3.11 Network serves in. The band was called “Sparrow’s Song,” and they performed at many places along the coast including Ofunato Baptist Church earlier that day. The tour was sponsored by Trans World Radio. It’s been amazing to meet all the different and talented people that God has brought to Iwate to touch the lives of those in need with His love.
Download our 2016 Year End Letter
YEAR END NEEDS
This year we are seeking to raise an additional $6,500 in year end giving for home service expenses and budget short falls.
In 2018, Lord willing, we will begin a new phase of ministry on the coast. It is our prayer to continue partnering with MBBC and Pastor Kondo, to strengthen and plant churches in coastal cities that were effected by the Tsunami. In order to prepare for this ministry we will be returning to the US in late 2017 to raise additional monthly support. However we will need to raise money for travel costs to the States and back. Additionally we are hoping to make up for some of the shortage of monthly giving in 2016.
The rainy season is just about over, schools are out for Summer vacation, and a lot of exciting things are happening at church. The most joyful news is that two college students will be baptized shortly, one this coming Sunday and the other in the fall. Both of them come from non Christian homes, and both had strong opposition from their parents when they became Christians. They are both from neighboring prefectures, and came to our city for to go to college. One of them was told by his father before he left “Don’t join a religion, or the Yakuza!” Yakuza is essentially the Japanese mafia. However after seeing his life change and hearing his testimony his parents relented and gave their blessing for him to be baptized as a Christian. Please keep both these students in prayer as they grow in their new faith.
During the Summer while kids are on vacation our church takes the opportunity to reach out to the community. This year we hosted our seconds annual Natsu Matsuri. Matsuri means festival in Japanese, and they have many Matsuri’s throughout the year. Most of them are hosted by Shinto shrines. The picture at the top of this email is of a local highschool practicing for our city’s biggest Matsuri of the year, the Sansa Oodori, which is celebrated with a huge parade of Taiko drummers and dancers. Many children from the local elementary school who don’t normally come to church, attended our little Matsuri. We’re starting to see some of the same kids coming back to different events (two families at the Matsuri also came to an English Cafe in May). Please be praying that God will lead these kids and their families closer to Him, through the little snippets of the gospel that are shared at these events, and through a deepening relationship with our church.
We’re now in the process of preparing for kids Summer camp, which starts this Sunday after church. It’s common for many Japanese to start their day with a light aerobic style exercise, and while this is slightly out of my comfort zone, I was asked to be the morning exercise leader at the camp. Still working out my program (if anyone out there has any tips, I’m all ears.)
Preaching and Speaking
It’s been a real blessing not only serving at our home church but serving in a church with a good relationship with other churches in the area. There are so few churches, and many of the churches are very small, so having the support and cooperation of other similarly minded churches is an incredible blessing. I’ve been attending a monthly pastors meeting this year and been really encouraged by the other pastors serving throughout the prefecture. This past Monday I had the opportunity to share a short message and lead a discussion time about church ministry. Given that this was all in Japanese it was very difficult, yet it went really well, and led to some really good times of sharing and focus. Thank you to all who prayed for this meeting.
I am also scheduled to preach three more times over the next three months at three different churches. In August I will preach at a sister church in Kitakami, in September I’ll preach at our home church in Morioka and in October I’ll preach at an independent church. In the midst of all these opportunities I feel like we’re getting a better grasp of the issues facing the churches here in Japan, and how we can encourage them towards a greater involvement in spreading the Gospel throughout Japan. As we look out at the daunting task of reaching the other 99.8% of the population with good news of Salvation, I can’t help but feel that the Japanese church, small in numbers as it may be, will play a huge role in God’s plan for this country. It’s a privilege to serve alongside these Japanese believers and churches, partnering together with them in our common hope to see the gospel spread, and believers grow in Christian maturity.
I’m going to be sharing at a Pastors meeting in July about a book I’m reading on Church ministry, called The Trellis and the Vine. Here’s some thoughts on how it could be applied to ministry in Japan.
First Japanese Sermon
We continue to see God working here as he allows us to be more and more involved in the work he is doing here in Iwate. It’s truly an exciting time to be serving in this area and we are incredibly blessed by the partnership of our Japanese church and our supporters back in the US.
On May first we reached another milestone, as I was able to preach an entire sermon in Japanese for the first time. I was told by a number of people afterwards that it was easy to understand. There were a few non-Christians in attendance that Sunday, and I was overjoyed to be able to preach the Gospel to them. You can watch a video clip of the sermon here.
Taking 15 visitors to a three member church.
Since first arriving here we’ve been especially burdened to support the needs of Ofunato Bible Baptist Church, which was heavily damaged by the Tsunami, and after many difficulties has only two remaining members, and no pastor. But last Sunday I was able to visit along with two international teams, which meant the attendance that Sunday was more than quadruple it’s normal number.
The church is about 100 yards away from two newly built apartment complexes which serve as permanent housing for those who lost homes in the Tsunami. Just as God brought believers from around the world to fill that little church building to capacity last Sunday, we pray that in the near future God will fill it with new believers from the surrounding community.
Next Sunday we will visit the church as a family and I will preach the same sermon I preached at our home church.
5AM Baseball Fellowship
You may have heard that baseball is a big deal here in Japan. While in the states Evening Softball leagues are common, here they take it a little further. In order to work around the typical busy Japanese work days, they have leagues that start at 5AM. Our Pastor has been playing for the past few years because he loves baseball and meeting new people. This year my brother and I also joined.
Pray that we would be good witnesses on the team and for opportunities to get to know our team mates, most of whom are non-Christians.
Thank you for your prayers and support!
On May 1st I preached my first sermon in Japanese on the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18. Here is a ten minute clip of the sermon with English subtitles.
Recently it feels a little hard to process all that’s going on around us. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of opportunities to serve our church, community and prefecture. At the same time we’ve felt the burden of church ministry as our church has wrestled through difficult situations requiring more wisdom and discernment than we possess. Through it all we rely on God’s direction, confident not in our own decisions, but always confident in His power to lead. Thank you for supporting us and the ministry here through your prayers and financial partnership. Below are some of the things that happened in March!
5 Year Anniversary of the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami
It’s been five years since the Tsunami devastated nearly all the coastal towns in three of Japan’s prefectures. Most of these cities still have a long way to go before their recovery is complete. If you drive a long the coast line here you will see construction happening everywhere. There are still tens of thousands of people living in “temporary” residences waiting for the chance to move into a real home.
In the midst of all this Christians continue to minister to the residents of these towns through temporary housing visits, after school programs for children, and hosting community events. Teams from Singapore, Germany, the US and Japan are a constant presence in this prefecture that previously did not have a single missionary serving within it’s borders. We continue to prepare for long term service in coastal areas, and as such I’ve been slowly increasing my trips down to the coast, while at the same time continuing my training through interning at Morioka Bible Baptist Church.
Tomo’s Many Ministries
Tomo is a lot more useful than I am right now. As I struggle to simply comprehend the language and what is going on around me, she not only speaks Japanese but is gifted in many other areas as well. This has not gone unnoticed at church – they’ve been putting her to work!
Currently Tomo is leading a monthly pound cake making ministry, a bi-weekly young mothers outreach, and on occasion plays piano. This year she was also asked to chair the evangelism committee and quickly came up with an ambitious plan to shift the focus from hosting two or three big events a year, to encouraging and equipping everyone in the church to engage in personal, relational evangelism to their friends and family.
We’ve been especially encouraged at what God is doing through the young mother’s group. What started as an informal get together with a few of the stay at home mom’s from the church has grown to include a number non-christian friends of these mothers, who are now gathering at the church on a regular basis for fellowship.
Dave Prepping for his First Japanese Sermon
I’ll be preaching for the first time in Japanese this coming Sunday, May 1st. However I’ve been preparing for this sermon for the last 4 months. It’s been a painstakingly slow process compared to how much easier it is prepare for a sermon in English. For my first time I’ll be relying heavily on notes, which requires that I write the sermon out in Japanese in advance. In March I finished the translation. I’ll be preaching on the parable of the Unmerciful Servant. I want to highlight how God’s great forgiveness to us both frees us and compels us to forgive those who have wronged us.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please keep us, our church and our prefecture in prayer, as we commit to building God’s Kingdom.
5 months after returning to Japan, my internship at Morioka Bible Baptist Church is well underway, and I’m preparing for my first sermon in Japanese!