This summer, Japan had its biggest wave of new infections since the beginning of COVID. New infections hovered around 200,000 a day during the entire month of August. Now, as we head into September, we’re thankful that the infections are starting to die down. Though the surge of new infections has slowed down the easing of restrictions, we’re thankful that it hasn’t hindered the gathering of our church family. God has been very faithful to us! We’ve had a few infections here and there, but nothing serious, and our church family has continued to faithfully gather together throughout the summer.
Summer Family Camp
For many years our church has been part of a summer camp where Baptist churches in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures (states) gather together for a few days of preaching and fellowship. Due to Covid, this was the first time in three years that we were able to have this camp together again, even in the middle of the wave of infections. God protected everyone who attended, and we were all thrilled to see brothers and sisters whom we haven’t seen for a while. God used a Japanese missionary serving in the underground churches of a nearby country to challenge us throughout the three days.
On a side note, the campground we meet at is operated by a family friend: a man named Tom Tierney and his wife Kazuko. Tom was a NASA Space Shuttle engineer who moved to Japan in the 80’s to help Japan with their rocket development program. He gave up his lucrative career so that they could serve Japanese Christians by having a place where they could gather for camp. Bro. Tom and Mrs. Kazuko have been serving quietly, faithfully, out of the spotlight for many years. Now, as they are getting up in age, it’s getting harder to have the physical stamina needed to operate the camp. Please pray for the Tierneys, that God would provide help, and maybe someone to come in under them to take the reins of this important ministry.
Baptisms at Akigawa River
Our church, Akigawa Baptist Church, is named after the Akigawa River, which I personally think is one of the most beautiful rivers in Tokyo. (No bias here.) Last week we were so excited to celebrate the baptism of two young men in our church, Custo and Keito. Their mom, Mariko, has been faithfully raising them to follow Jesus, and it’s been exciting to see them mature as His followers.
Pray for them, as they enter junior high and high school. For Japanese, this one of the most difficult seasons of life to stay faithful in following Jesus. The intense pressure to be involved in school activities and entrance exam preparations literally take up all of their time during this season. In the last 19 years of serving in Japan, we’ve probably lost 80% of our young Japanese teens solely because of this reason. And this seems to be consistent with other pastors and missionaries that I meet. The teens that do stay faithful usually grow to become solid, mature Christians. But it’s not easy for them. Pray for Custo, Keito, and their two younger brothers. Pray for Mariko, their mom, as she guides them in following Jesus. Pray for Hiroki, their dad. Hiroki is an awesome dad that loves his kids, and often comes to church. Pray that one day he, too, will trust Jesus.
Faithfulness is one of the great attributes God produces in us as we follow Him: in the life of a Japanese mom raising her four sons, in the life of a rocket engineer serving his brothers and sisters, in the life of a missionary serving in a foreign country, and in YOUR life as you faithfully pray for, and care for them. Thank you for your faithfulness! It means the world to us!