Camp

I am just back from a 3 day camp with our church’s youth group and it’s been a great experience. Not only was it great fun, but many teenagers were reached with the gospel and more than that, the testimonies of their friends and the new people they met at camp.

We spent three days and two nights up in the mountains of Tenryu (which were stunning. Kind of like postcard Japan) where we played games, sang songs, heard messages and testimonies and spent a lot of time in the river due to the intense heat!

Now that the camp is over, the work isn’t. Many teenagers now need to think on what they heard and make life-changing decisions. And so the need for prayer is great as ever.

There were non-Christians and new Christians there and I know that no matter the stage in their journey, they all need the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit just as we all do. Within themselves they don’t have the strength to resist the devil or hear the voice of God through the many distractions in their lives which is why we need to pray on their behalf.

On another note, a few weeks ago I was teaching one of my smaller classes (3 girls about 10/11 years old) and they started talking about gods. I asked them ” what gods do you know about?” and two of the girls said that they didn’t know really know anything about gods but that they knew about ‘Tenkokunokamisama’ the God of heaven. The other girl said that she didn’t know about any gods apart from Jesus Christ, which put a huge smile in my face. I then asked her how she knew and she said that she goes to church on Saturday evenings. I was so happy to hear about that in a place where nobody knows anything about the gospel and ever since then I have been praying for this young girl (Ayaka) that God would reveal more and more of himself to her even at her young age and that she would grow to love Him and know Him as her Lord. Also that she would be an influence on her friends too.

Praise God who delivers the weak from those to strong for them and who sustains the weary. He gives us strength to believe when we don’t have it in ourselves and he delivers us from the devil who is always seeking to ruin us.

Here are some pics from the camp

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A time of fruitfulness

Another update on how things are going here in Japan. It is a very exciting time in the church right now.
Since I came here we’ve seen seen so many lost folks just starting to come to the church, 4 people have been saved (all of which are now baptized) and many are bringing their family and friends along.
The youth of our church are wonderful and it’s really a desire of mine to be able to lead them along the straight and narrow path in any way I can. Not I mention they are just great fun to be around.
The other week we had a missions team come over from Colorado who went round schools in the area having fun with the kids and preaching the gospel through their testimonies. It was a very good week, which culminated with 32 kids (all japanese who had never heard the gospel) coming to the church for our twice monthly youth event and hearing the gospel.
Then the next day, my friends Hiro and Sarah had a barbecue at their house and invited their neighbors to come. All together about 12 of their neighbors came and although I wasn’t there, I was told that it was the most blessed time of just communicating the gospel freely and answering the questions that these people had.
All of this activity and sowing of the word spurs me on to ask for your prayers as well.

• To intercede for those who heard the gospel for the first time, that the seed would not be snatched away from their hearts but that rather it would be nurtured.

• To pray for those who are new in the faith. That God would draw them into a bond of love with Him. That they would seek him through His word and although they are in the world that they would be unspotted by it. Pray for Richard and Nicole (2 young Filipinos who got saved) and for their family who are also coming but are not yet saved.

• Pray for the church, that as we see people being reached with the gospel that God would protect us from the enemy. Pray for unity and love amongst those in the church

Thank you wonderful church family for your prayers and comments. I pray that God would bless ICF mightily with unity, love, healing and the spreading of the gospel in Inverness.

God bless you all, I love you!

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Abiding in Him

This is just a short update to let everyone know whats been happening recently. In short, I am doing well; God has provided me with family (Christian and non-Christian), work and money, people to talk to about Jesus and His ever present Holy Spirit changing me and being with me always.

I’m sure I’ve quoted this verse before but I think it’s so good and I just want to say it again because I am so thankful to God that this is the reality about life.

‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’

I think there are lots of people who are really stuck in life because they just can’t get ahead. They can’t get the job they want or the right opportunities aren’t opening up and they are really in fix about it. But when I read this passage I see that it is no use worrying about these things, because a life surrendered to God and His purposes becomes His responsibility and when it is His responsibility He definitely makes the best of it.

I think that is the truth of this verse, to give up your own ambitions and plans and ask God to lead you in the path that He ordained for you. In this we will find true life as God intended but it doesn’t end there.

There is a huge payoff.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

There is a life after this one. This life is like a wisp of smoke in the wind compared with the rest of eternity, it is not the end. And the key to living a fruitful life, as a good friend told me recently is simply this, abiding in Christ and making the time to be filled with His Holy Spirit day by day through prayer.

If I can go from strength to strength in this, I’ll be a happy bunny.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Faithful one

Well yesterday was my birthday and its as good a time as any to update everyone on how I’m getting on here in Japan!

I’m now a memeber of an amazing church here in Hamamatsu called HSK (short for Hamamatsu sukuinushi kyoukai or church of the saviour). Here there is a wonderful group of Spirit filled Christians ready and willing to give and serve in many different ways and I feel very at home here. Since I came I’ve seen three people come to faith in Christ and many many young people reached with the gospel through church youth events (which are a lot of fun). Many of these young people come to church regularly and even bring their friends too. I love it how they are not even Christians and yet they are still evangelising! 

Work is going well and is actually a real blessing; my boss is kind and so are my co-workers  and Japanese is the default language for the office so it is really helping with my Japanese too. 

I’ve started driving school as well which is actually a lot of fun and hopefully in 4 weeks time I will be driving my company car around Hamamatsu (which is actually a real blessing because the rainy season has just started). It is very expensive to learn to drive here (about £2500) but the Lord has blessed me with all the money that I need and more. I think it’s really amazing to experience God providing in so many ways and I think the key is giving back to God what He has given you. Giving to God is such an easy way to bless Him and such a good way to build our faith. As some of you know, due to a banking issue I actually ran out of money and one day on my way to work (with no cash in my wallet to pay the train fare) God reassured me that He would provide the money I needed, and sure enough about 3 minutes before I arrived at the train station I met a friend from church who gave me some money to keep me going for the next few days. Exciting!

I can’t begin to say how thankful I am for the Bito family who have just been so good to me. I don’t know how I can repay them. I am praying that God will provide something that I can bless them with as much as they have blessed me. Of course the greatest blessing would be that the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in them and with my testimony and the moving of the Spirit of God I pray that this happens. But in the mean time I hope that my presence in this house is a blessing to them, which I think it is. 

Yesterday at my birthday evening, I was made an honorary member of the Bito family and I was blessed with presents, cake, hand made cards and an abundance of Sashimi! Once again the Lord has been true to His word;

“I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Aside from these financial and provisional blessings, I am growing in love and intimacy with God which is the greatest blessing of all. I’ve been very moved in the last few days by the following songs; All to Jesus I surrender, We bow down and confess and Jesus take me as I am. The last song in particular has been the cry of my heart since I came to Japan and I ask God to help me to live it out each day. Here are the words. 

Jesus take me as I am,

I can come no other way.

Take me deeper into you,

may my flesh life melt away.

Make me like a precious stone,

crystal clear and finely honed.

Life of Jesus shining through,

giving glory back to you. 

 

Restoring the mission mentality

Hello everyone! 

It’s been about three months now that I’ve been here and now that the settling in is well and truly done with, it’s time to set my sights back on the prize and keep running this race for God. The Lord really has provided everything I’ve needed including friends, money, family, an amazing church and a job which allows me to meet more people than I would ever normally meet by myself. 

Looking back on the past month, I can see a lot of the ways that God has taught me (especially in regards to giving the gospel) and I have been and still am in the process of balancing a strong devotional/prayer life with work, study and being an ambassador for Christ everywhere I am. 

On Sunday I talked with a vibrant and inspiring man of God who reminded me that telling people of the wonders of Jesus is the very reason that I came here, and since then, I’ve been asking God to restore my mission mentality. It’s a mentality that we could all do with refreshing as the call to be a missionary is the call of every Christian no matter where you are. 

But it’s not all busyness and lifestyle transformation. I’ve had some wonderful times with the great friends that God has put in my life, going on trips to Yokohama, having house parties and enjoying our weekly vital group which is always a blessing. Also me and two of my friends have started a men’s accountability group which is a great blessing in the freedom that it brings to your life and also in the spiritual oversight other people can bring. 

Last week was golden week (a national holiday) and over that period I was able to get some rest and also to spend a few days at the Hamamatsu kite festival (which was loud, dangerous but also kinda fun). Each ward from the town (the equivalent of like Drakies, Hilton, Culloden etc.) has their own kites each about ten feet square in size and made from bamboo and paper. Then they all go down to the beach and fly them with great ceremony and enthusiasm. It really is something else, and it only takes place in Hamamatsu. 

So now that I’m back at work and life is taking it’s regular shape again, with the help of the Lord I hope to keep on changing for the better, to become bolder, more loving and more disciplined. It’s easy to get swept along with the flow of life like a dead fish floating on down the river but we are called to go against the flow of this world, to stand out and be a shining light like a city on a hill. It can be a daunting prospect when we are faced with a lifetime of overcoming the challenges that this world throws at us but we are not alone, and Jesus says ‘Take heart! For I have overcome the world’ and with that He gives us life in all it’s abundance. As we change and overcome obstacles in life in fellowship with His holy spirit, it’s in those times that we draw closer and closer to Him experiencing His peace and joy in situations where the world says that we shouldn’t. And that is what abundant life is, not easy life but abundant life. 

So as I press on into this mission mentality, I am filled with hope and expectation because I know that in pressing into God and all that He has for us, therein lies the greatest reward! 

Here are some recent pictures….ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

A day redeemed

Aside

Yesterday, was the most wonderful day. Was it because I failed my written driving test for the second time at the expense of another 3000 yen? No. Was it because I got a parking ticket on my bike? No. was it because I had very little time in between going to the driving center early in the morning and then going to work an hour later and then not getting home till half ten at night?…none of the above.

Because the day before, I had asked the Lord that in spite of a very busy day ahead of me, if He could make Himself known to me all throughout the day in the midst of the busyness. Which He most faithfully did, and that’s why yesterday was just such a good day. Because through the word, through worship and through talking to Him all throughout the day I just felt so close to my God and the feeling is better than anything. So in spite of what some people might call a busy, hectic and somewhat unlucky day, God came into the midst and turned it all around. Jesus how wonderful you are!

I just want to say sorry that I haven’t been posting as regularly as I used to. Now I have a job, I need to manage my time more efficiently, and so I will try to be a bit more regular. But nevertheless God is doing encouraging things and He is helping me t be a good witness at work. Which I am very happy about.

Over and out for now.

Praise Him in the valleys

I want to let everyone know that I am settling in well into living in Japan and also working here.
The past few weeks have been a lot busier (as you can tell by the absence of blog posts) and I’m needing to organize my time wisely. Despite the increased business, I am always making ample time for God and making sure that He is always my top priority.
As long as God has His place as the focal point in our lives, we can’t go far wrong and that is my great peace amongst the business and the transitioning. As a favorite son of mine goes “there’s not a care in the world when I am trusting you completely” this way of living is teaching me to be thankful for difficult and seemingly impassible obstacles because it’s through these situations that God is always glorified. For example the other day I was on my way to work, and having ran out of money (due to a bank problem that has now been sorted out) I was saying to God “you know I don’t have enough money for a train ticket and there is nothing I can do about this so the ball is in your court God.”. And 5 minutes after saying that, I randomly bumped into a girl from church as I was cycling through the city. I told her my situation and she lent me 1000yen to keep me going and we both praised god then and there.
God is good and faithful and we can always trust in Him. So from now on I’m going to try to praise God for difficulties because if we didn’t have any difficulties and we could do everything ourselves, then our faith would be weak and we would never have to rely on God.
So there we go, let’s turn those frowns upside down and praise God for what He hasn’t done yet but will most certainly do! Zechariah 2:10 is a great example of this.