Dear Faithful Partners
Thank you for your faithful prayers and partnership!
We would like to send our greetings from Yokohama and send our update on what the Lord is doing in and through us in Japan and Asia.
Harvest across the Nation
In February, Marika and I attended and served at the JPF Conference (Japan Pentecostal Fellowship) Conference for the second year in a row. This year, the keynote speaker was Pastor Mark Estes from City Bible Church, Portland, U.S. There were more than 500 pastors and leaders from Churches all around Japan (from Northern island of Hokkaido to the Southern island of Okinawa) that attended the Conference. The theme of the Conference was Gospel-centered Church. The goal was for the churches in Japan to go back to the essence of the Gospel and to go out in the world to bring the Good News to our cultures and communities.
It is such a privilege to be able to have the fellowship with pastors and leaders from all over Japan to share what is happening in Yokohama and hear what the Lord is doing across the nation of Japan.
Every Nation Church HK and South Korea
The first quarter of 2017 has been filled with traveling. In the middle of February, we had the opportunity and honor to serve in Every Nation Church HK. We interacted with students and preached on "Real Marriage" on a Sunday. Since our last visit in November 2015, the church has grown to become a multi-generational church.
I want to highlight the stories of the two local students - Jim and Timmis from Lingnan University. A local Campus minister Hong whom Pastor Samuel reached out to, is now reaching out to Jim and Timmis. Though the two students have yet to profess Jesus as Lord and Savior, everywhere Hong goes, the two also go. After observing this intriguing phenomenon, I asked why they keep on coming to church. Both students explained that they are confused about life and do not know what to do in the future. All they know is that following Hong, a Jesus follower is good for them. As Hong's life points to Jesus and as the Gospel seeds grow in the hearts of both Jim and Timmis, I believe that the day that they experience and accept Jesus is soon. By faith, I believe that they will then become the signposts to Jesus.
Jim (in the middle) and Timmis (next to me)
Lingnan University Campus and student leaders with Pastor Sam (in the middle)
In late March, we had the opportunity to serve in Every Nation Church South Korea to encourage the local leadership team and to instruct/impart on discipleship. We also drove all the way up to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), bordering North Korea to prayer walk for reconciliation and restoration of the two Koreas. On a Saturday afternoon, we had the privilege to interact with North Koreans who fled to South Korea and became followers of Christ through the church. I was amazed to hear the story from Daniel. He left North Korea in 2013 October when he was 23. He took a bottle of water and left home at 7am without saying a word to his father whom he lived with. He walked all the way to the river bordering China. He swam across the river to China, risking his life. From then he took 14 days to get from China through South East Asia to finally reach South Korea as a refugee. In his darkest hour, He found a community of believers at Every Nation Church South Korea who became his family. Daniel soon became a follower of Jesus Christ. He is now helping other North Koreans in South Korea to assimilate into the society.
NOTE: Please keep this photo confidential as Daniel is a North Korean Refugee.
Leaders of EN Korea Church.
God is moving mightily in HK and South Korea.
Outreach and Salvation Continue
The outreaches from last year continue to be strong and powerful. We want to share a few stories. After meeting Masa at the bouldering gym and climbing together several times, we began a bi-weekly English dinner club. Masa would bring two of his colleagues (Yu and Kamiyama) from the work place and I would bring two of the leaders from the Young Professional group at the church. Since Masa, Yu, and Kamiayama are engineers for turbo engine at a respectable Japanese manufacturer - we talk about automobile industry and daily conversations in English.
In April, Masa joined the church service for the first time in his life and heard the Gospel. He is open to the Gospel and in turn he invited us to his home for a cooking session (his hobby is making French pastries). This is a huge breakthrough in Japan because being invited to one's home requires tremendous trust and is therefore a rare instance even among the Japanese. Furthermore, through the conversations, Kamiayma shared with me that he is a Japanese Muslim who recently got divorced. It is my first time to ever meet a Japanese Muslim. I am believing that Kamiyama will come to know Jesus as the true Savior. What began as a small bouldering gym outreach has expanded (grown) into multiple new relationships and new opportunities to share the Gospel that heals, frees, and gives life. Please continue to pray and believe with us that Masa, Yu, and Kamiayama will come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior!
Reaching out to Masa (to the left of me) and his colleagues.
God has also opened doors in our neighborhood in a miraculous way. On one Saturday in January, we went to play in a community fusal (a smaller version of soccer) field with both believers from the church and those we are reaching out to. Through that Saturday, we were able to meet Shiota who lives in the same apartment where we live. Shiota is married with a 4 year old son. Since then Shiota has invited us for dinner at his place (which is again uncommon in Japan). Through the Shiota family, we have been able to connect with two more families that live literally a building away. We have been praying on how we can reach out to our neighbors, as now the entire apartment knows that we work for a Christian church and there is a sense of divine openness. Please pray with us that a revival will take place here in our neighborhood!
Playing Footsal and reaching out to the community.
God has been faithful and we have had the privilege to see people committing their lives in the last several months. Takane who recently graduated from a Master's program came to church through a friend's invitation. He went to a church in Osaka for the first time, and then came to our church in Yokohama. On his third visit, he raised his hand to put his faith in Jesus during the response time. I sat down with Takane after the service to explain the Gospel once more and confirmed if he wanted to believe - he said yes! His younger brother who lives in Osaka is currently suffering from severe depression and one of his cry is for his brother to be healed. We prayed together and are believing that a miracle will happen in Takane's family that will turn the whole household to Jesus.
In addition, 3 young professional girls decided to follow Jesus on the Easter Sunday!
Yukiko on the very left is one of the girls who got saved on Easter Sunday.
Regardless of the nations, Jesus is the only hope and life.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. John 1:3-4
All of the 8 churches in Every Nation Japan got together in April. We preached on Lordship, Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, and Family. Our utmost desire is to be the salt of the earth and the light of this world so that people in Japan can find the Way, the Truth, and Life.
Every Nation Church conference,
You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:13-14
Once again, we are so thankful for your faithful prayers and partnership. We will continue to Honor God and make disciples - together!
Jonathan and Marika