The Lord answers prayer…even in Japan!

The religions of Japan are Shinto and Buddhism.  Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland 1400 years ago.  So evangelical churches in Japan are small and the Japanese are reticent to visit an evangelical church.

Three faithful members of a church planted by Takuji & Hiroko Yamazaki decided to pray for newcomers to the church every Sunday.  To date, they have had new visitors for ten weeks straight!

In March, a 12-year-old boy, originally from the Philippines, asked pastor Yamazaki how he can have eternal life…how he can go to heaven.  The boy has been attending services faithfully with his parents.  But he needed time to process.  Pastor Yamazaki was happy to explain the way of salvation.  They prayed together as he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  He has also requested to be baptized!

Photo of Takuji Yamazaki at one of his churches.

 

“It is difficult to live and communicate the gospel in a country where idols are everywhere”…

…Jon & Mitsy Mahar write from Japan.  Christians in that country are few in numbers and the churches are small.  So fellowship among believers is a great encouragement for the Japanese Christians to stand firm for Christ, especially for the children.

The Mahars write that they had a wonderful day camp with 67 children and adults from six churches.  Mitsy spoke to the children, who listened and responded well.  Hope Hooper, a short term co-worker, led games.  Jon has Bible study classes with high school students.

Photo of Mitsy Mahar teaching the children.

 

It takes time sharing the Gospel in an Islamic country…

FIM missionary, Steve, writes about a person that he has repeatedly witnessed to.  “We share the Good News in season and out of season but it gives special joy to have an in-season opportunity.  The other day I had a wonderful time sharing the Gospel with our mechanic. He was saying how he remembers Mom (who also served as a missionary) and certain things she did and said. He then asked if I prayed for her, adding he was sure I did. (It is the custom of people here to especially pray for those who have died who were very dear to them as an expression of love and respect.) I said ‘no’, because she was in Paradise where all is perfect and prayer is no longer needed. I told him the story of the dying thief who believed in Jesus and went to Paradise that very day though he was a condemned criminal. Because Mom believed in Jesus, she is certainly in Paradise.  Continue to pray for his salvation.”

Photo of the local mosque.

The Lord works in ways that we don’t always understand!  It isn’t always the way that we desire…

But He IS at work, transforming us into His image!

Craig & Debbie Borgard write about a lady they met in their ministry in an atheistic part of Germany.  “When we first met ‘A’, she told us that she did not have a ‘strong’ testimony as she thought other people did.  She came to understand and accept the gospel. Then she came to a point where she accepted what Jesus did for her on the cross and trusted in Jesus as her Lord and Savior!

Then ‘A’ realized that something was physically wrong.  She ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis.  Through her stay in the hospital, ‘A’ had a powerful testimony.  She gave glory to the Lord for all things including what was happening to her.  The Lord surrounded her with Christian friends during that time. The Lord, her friends, and her unbelieving husband with their two daughters were there for her when she needed them.”

The Borgards write, “We have seen ‘A’ grow tremendously from this time. She has attended a year of Bible school and has since joined the new Bible Church in Halle. Just recently she spoke up at the Bible study one evening as we were talking about suffering. ‘A’ shared that when she suffers in her daily life, she knows that she does not have the strength to do anything on her own, realizing that the Lord will sustain her through all things. We praise the Lord for how He is working in ‘A’s life.”

“It was a very fulfilling time,”

…Skip Kite wrote about his recent trip to Jamaica…his 6th trip to the island.  The Lord allowed him to pray with 16 children, 8 teens and 4 adults in receiving Jesus as Savior.  Being the father of a special needs child, Skip returned to an orphanage for children with special needs.  Many of the residents are a lot like his daughter—“always a bitter-sweet experience”, Skip muses.

Photo of Skip & Rosie Kite—involved in children’s ministry and teacher training.

Around 100 kids and 20 adults showed up from the neighborhood…

…for the Christmas Posada (with booth games) as a first step of Jeff & Sheny Walker’s third church planting effort in Aguascalientes, Mexico. This was followed by two gospel presentations—one using an illusion and the other with a drawing and black lights.

Then the Walkers started the Sunday services with three new families the first Sunday.  Their FIM missionary daughter, Julie, began a 4-hour after school program Monday through Thursday, with 20-30 children.

As a result of the after school program, the Lord has opened opportunities for evangelistic Bible studies in homes that are very tied to the traditional religion. A young grandmother brought her grandchild to the program and mentioned that her husband has been very depressed for over a year. The Walkers visited him the same day and started an evangelistic Bible Study with them in their home. Other parents have also opened up to studying the Bible.

Photo of Jeff Walker giving black light gospel presentation.

 

“There are ten children in this neighborhood, and they are all Muslims,”

Heidi Sabena writes from Uganda.  “Muslims teach their children from an early age to be very proud to be Muslims and to defend their faith.  They tell us every day, “We are Muslims.”  (I don’t remember walking around as a kid telling people, “I’m a Christian.”)   They have lots of stories to share.  We play games with them and read books.

“Naomi (our one-year-old daughter) has a lot of fun books that have pig characters or farm animal books with pigs.  Well, pigs are absolutely filthy and unclean to a Muslim and you don’t even speak about them.  So it has been horrifying to be reading stories with the children and come along in a book that talks about ‘three singing pigs say La La La.’  Try explaining to them it is cute that a family of pigs are going camping!

“We have also been reading stories to them from Naomi’s Jesus Storybook Bible where every story points us to Jesus.  These stories have brought out a lot of great comments from the kids.  Shazmeen told us that Jesus got run over in the road and that is how he died.  Farid told us that Allah created Jesus and Jesus is not God.  Roshan and Ryann tell us that Allah created God.

“Seven-year-old Salsa, dressed in normal westernized kids clothes and who was very sweet and fun to talk with at the beginning, has now become a bit cool towards us.  She shows up every day wearing her Muslim head covering and carries her children’s Koran with her.  We are not sure what has happened.

“The group of kids gathering at my house each day needs to be reached with the message of hope of Jesus Christ.  It will only come through much prayer and the Lord opening their hearts to the message of salvation that Jesus offers.”

Photo of Heidi with her children’s ministry.  Prince & Heidi Sabena are involved in discipleship in Kampala, Uganda.

 

“We launched a discipleship program for all of our teachers to learn how to disciple their students

in September, 2015,” Christy Sopcisak writes about the 14 Christian schools that she is affiliated with in Togo, West Africa.  “By February 2016, we were already starting to see the positive effects as more students accepted the Lord and were growing in Him as a result of the discipling they received from their teachers.  This September, we have reiterated the importance of discipleship and have seen more teachers take this seriously.  We have students that were discipled by teachers and now they are sharing the Gospel with other students.  I also had the opportunity to disciple five girls and help them grow in the Lord.  This will always be an ongoing process.”  (Photo of Christy with a Togolese second grade teacher.)

 

Invited by an older couple, who have been investing in her life for many years,

a young woman has been attending the Dresden, Germany church for a few months.  She also attended a 6-week “My Life Workshop” seminar offered in January, exploring the experiences and influences throughout life that shape us…leading to the question of God’s role and plan in it all.

Mindy Boyd wrote, “God has clearly been working in her life, because somewhat out of the blue, she announced that she wanted to become a Christian.  She asked me if she could come over and pray with me.  I invited her over for cake and coffee (a central aspect of German culture) and explained again what it means to give your life to Christ.  Then she prayed and asked Jesus to come into her life!  It felt very much like reaping a harvest that someone else had planted and had been watering for years.”

Mindy added, “The young woman has a difficult home situation and needs prayer as she seeks to follow Jesus in an environment that is somewhat hostile toward her newfound faith.  And please thank the Lord for people like this older couple, who humbly and faithfully invest in the lives of people like her.”

 

January Summer Camps in Argentina!

January is summer in the southern hemisphere.  That means it’s time for camps!  Lucio & Amanda Gallo report from this ministry in Salta, Argentina.  “One week was for kids under 12 years of age and then the last week in January we had teen week. During both weeks many decided to commit their lives to the Lord and others received Christ as their personal Savior. With the children’s camp, God surprised us by providing a bus full of 40 kids from a rural part of Salta. During the teen week it was special to see how God spoke to many.

“We really were able to see the fruit of summer camp as almost all the teens from camp began coming to the church´s youth group. Now there is a group of 30 teenagers. In the month of February we had Mexican Night. The purpose of the night was to invite new teens and share the Gospel as well as play games, have fun and eat tacos.  We have known many of the teens since they were little kids.”