God is Moving in Japan!

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God is moving!  We started taking mission trips to Kamaishi, Japan in 2011 (6 months after the tsunami hit the region); this was our eighth mission trip to the area. We spent most of our first trip removing rocks and debris in rice fields to prepare the ground for harvest (Isaiah 62:10). Over the next few years, we emphasized community outreach by serving coffee and snacks and listening the tragic stories that tsunami survivors shared with us. We were then able to share our testimonies, make crafts that pointed to our hope, and explain the reason why we were there to serve them through Christ’s love for us.  One of our team members from that first trip in 2011 fell in love with Japan and its people and asked his company to send him to Tokyo through business.  God answered his prayer, and he was able to move to Tokyo 3 years ago with his company to continue outreach through business as mission. He has joined us the past two years on our return trips to Kamaishi. This year we could share both our testimonies and present the gospel message by using the Chemical cross illustration. It is a step-by-step process to engage people to share the good news of Christ. God is certainly moving to reveal himself to people in Kamaishi.

~ Keishi

 Keishi uses the chemical cross as an illustration to present the Gospel.

Keishi uses the chemical cross as an illustration to present the Gospel.

As I reflect on our mission trip, I definitely felt God's presence in tangible ways.  The “hard soil” and the spiritual darkness in Japan can easily discourage, but I believe God was constantly encouraging our team by revealing his glory through nature (Psalm 19:1).  Throughout the trip, our team witnessed beautiful sunrises, rainbows, fall leaf colors, mountains, and scenic water views at Kamaishi and Otsuchi Bay.  It was like God was testifying alongside each of us!

~ Jerry

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I echo what Jerry wrote and especially felt God’s abiding presence on Tuesday (October 30th) the last day of serving in Tohoku.  That morning, one of our members posted a picture of a rainbow visible from her hotel room in our team message group thread. Another member shared a devotional link on faith with a beautiful rainbow pictured in between mountains that literally looked like the rainbow we kept seeing on our way to the first event that morning! Once we arrived, the room we were to set up had a beautiful rainbow origami craft featured on the wall….and if that wasn’t enough, we were able to share about the Biblical meaning of the rainbow with the participants, who also noticed the amazing rainbow that morning.

 These ladies display their newly made recipe boxes (with the origami rainbow on the wall behind us).

These ladies display their newly made recipe boxes (with the origami rainbow on the wall behind us).

Later that same day, we were able to meet with a woman business owner who we met on the train five years earlier. Every year since that first meeting, God has provided us with the opportunity to build our relationship with her. This year our team member Wenwen, also a business owner, shared her testimony of coming to faith and explained how reading God’s Word for herself opened her eyes to the truth. By the end of our time together, our friend was willing to receive a Bible and begin reading it for herself!

~ Andrea

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 We had numerous opportunities in various settings to share our testimonies.

We had numerous opportunities in various settings to share our testimonies.

For me, the most amazing thing on this trip was how God used not only what I prepared to speak to one woman in particular (Mrs. Y), but also everything His Spirit guided me to share. Mrs. Y really seemed to connect with my mom’s story, which I had not even planned to share. I also explained how through prayer I began to understand how much God loves and treasures each of us—His creations. This realization allowed me to set aside my discrimination and apprehension about coming to Japan. God always knows exactly what we need to hear and what we need to overcome.

Also, even though our Halloween night street evangelism effort wasn't exactly what we had hoped for, I recognized God’s presence and was encouraged.  I don't think it was a pure coincidence that the first kids we spoke to were students with architecture majors! (I have a graduate degree in architecture!) Even though we didn't distribute as many tracts as we hoped, God sees our hearts and surely was with us every step of the way. He can use each of those eight encounters and distributed tracts as seeds for His glory!

~Wenwen

 Sharing our testimonies with the homeless who are ministered to by the Sidewalk Chapel ministry.

Sharing our testimonies with the homeless who are ministered to by the Sidewalk Chapel ministry.

I thought a lot about my testimony leading up to the Yoyogi Park sidewalk ministry on Saturday morning.  My perfectionism was causing me stress because I was relying on my own wisdom to try to refine every word of my testimony script.  I was especially concerned about the content and duration.  I finally decided just to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me and to stop overthinking my testimony.  After I decided to do that, the stress left me immediately and I was at peace.  It was a good reminder that we just have to be obedient and willing; God assumes the responsibility to convert hearts.

~ Jerry

{That morning, five people made decisions to trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior! You can see Jerry’s testimony recorded as well as Keishi’s presentation of the chemical cross on the facebook page of Kokoro care – Tokyo videos posted on Nov. 3rd & 2nd}

 Keishi and Andrea: the next Iron Chefs!

Keishi and Andrea: the next Iron Chefs!

We witnessed God’s provision in so many of the details on the trip! For example, despite the fact that we forgot to bring the mayonnaise to make the chicken salad for one of our events, with the help of our ministry partner, we ended up with all the necessary ingredients and had the perfect amount for the crowd in attendance.

We were amazed by his goodness and attention to even the details of the food we planned to serve.

~ Andrea

 We shared our sign language song with numerous groups.

We shared our sign language song with numerous groups.

Another blessing in the details of the trip was the fact that we taught our team a Japanese song using sign language to share at events and activities along the way.  It turned out to be well received, fun, and joyful! We shared the song at a weekly homeless Bible Study in Tokyo and discovered that there was a deaf believer in attendance. It was so wonderful to be able to praise the LORD with him and connect through that song we had prepared!  We truly felt the Lord our God had gone before us and established our steps! To Him be the glory!

~ Andrea

 At Sidewalk ministry: presenting the Gospel.

At Sidewalk ministry: presenting the Gospel.