Carter Connection August 2023

Wow, these past few months have been some of the more difficult months our family has been through in a long while. But at the same time, they’ve also been a time of inexplicable and unfading joy in the midst of those difficulties. God is so very good!

An Update on Bethany’s Health

Hi, friends! It’s Bethany here! I just wanted to jump in and give you a quick health update. As a quick review, in October of last year, I went in with pain and had a mammogram, which to the best of our knowledge came back clear. However, the pain only grew worse, so I went in again in March of this year and ended up being diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, a less-common type of breast cancer that tends to be sneaky and not show up well on scans.

On June 6, I had surgery to remove the cancer, and praise the Lord, surgery went well, and I was able to go home a few days later. The treatment plan I was expecting from that point included radiation followed by hormone therapy. However, when we got the pathology report back about a month later, due to several important pieces of information in the report, my team determined that I should add chemotherapy to that plan. This was difficult and jarring news to receive, as we’d thought that I would not need chemo, but I’m very thankful to live in a time and place that I can receive it if needed.

So, my current plan is 3-4 months of chemotherapy, followed by 6 weeks of radiation, followed by 5-10 years of hormone treatments. I’m not going to lie, personally that feels daunting; like a long, unwanted climb up a mountain. I had my first chemotherapy treatment on July 31, and have my second scheduled in a few days on August 21. As anyone who has walked this path knows, this is not an easy thing for our family to walk through. But God has been so good and so real to us throughout this entire journey, and I can only praise Him! We can trace His fingerprints all throughout our story, and He has never one time left us or forsaken us! Even in the midst of this storm, His blessings abound! Not the least of which, I’m so happy to report, is that, by the grace of God, with this treatment plan, my prognosis is good, and treatment is considered curative! God has blessed us so far above anything we deserve! We’ve been blown away by the number of people around the world who have reached out to let us know they are praying for us! Thank you all so very much for your prayers, your love, and support for our family!! Our Father hears and answers those prayers, and on behalf of our entire family, thank you! We love and appreciate you more than we can say!

A God-Ordained Baptism Delay

It’s been amazing to see how God uses adversity and difficulties for His glory and for our good! Last month, on July 9, our church was scheduled to have a special baptism service at the river near our church to baptize three ladies who had recently trusted Christ, but God had other plans. I (Steve) got a bad case of covid two days earlier, and we had to postpone the baptism until August 27, but again, God was working through all of this.

A few weeks ago, the topic of the upcoming baptism came up in one of our Bible study groups. A lady named Ayumi, who had been coming to church since March of this year, was in the study group. She had been wanting to trust Jesus but was dealing with a few things holding her back from doing so. When the baptism was mentioned, she asked about whether or not she could be baptized too. I asked her about her faith in Jesus, and come to find out, all the issues that were earlier holding her back were gone! She had trusted Christ! So having confirmed her faith in Jesus, we now have another believer in Christ getting baptized along with the other three! Later that day, she said that when she heard the baptism was delayed because of my covid, she wondered if God did that just for her. I have a feeling she’s on to something there. God always works according to His glorious plan! Thanks for being a part of that plan as you pray for us and support us! We sure do appreciate you!!

**To download a pdf version, click here.

Carter Connection May 2023

Some letters are easy to write. Some, not so much. This one definitely falls into the category of not easy to write. But even as I write it, I am confident in God’s care for us in the path we are getting ready to take. That being said, having you go to our Father on our behalf and asking Him for His help for us means a lot!

The “C” Word

About a week or two after I wrote our last letter, Bethany was at our local doctor to see about some pain she was having. The doctor did some tests, and when the results came back, he said, “I think you have cancer, but we need to take more tests to be sure.” It was the last thing either of us were expecting to hear. The results of those tests would take two weeks. People say that the waiting can be one of the most difficult things to deal with. They weren’t kidding. Those seemed like the longest two weeks of our lives. When the results came back, the doctor confirmed his suspicions. Bethany does have breast cancer.  He recommended that we go to a bigger hospital to get treatment, so we began our search to find a doctor and hospital that would provide the care that Bethany needed. Our church family here has been absolutely amazing at helping us navigate the Japanese medical system which, honestly, even after living here for 20 years, can still be overwhelming at times.

The careful and precise guiding that God has already provided, His care for each step we’ve taken has been SO comforting and encouraging. Already the flood of messages from those who’ve heard and have reached out has been a great source of strength, for which we are deeply grateful. Thank you!

So here’s where we’re at currently. There are several key aspects of Bethany’s cancer that we don’t know yet, which we’re still waiting to learn. But through several incredible “perfect timing” moments, God has led us to an amazing doctor about an hour away from us who is just perfect for Bethany. The tests to find out those key aspects are scheduled, and the initial surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, which will be the evening of Monday, June 5 for those of you who are in the States. The extent of the surgery, and the following treatments will depend on the results of those tests. I don’t often ask for prayer for us personally, but this time I’m going to. First, please pray that God will clearly help the doctors to see where the cancer is, and that they will successfully be able to treat it. Pray that the cancer has been contained. Pray for God’s grace as we go through this crazy emotional roller-coaster. Pray for Bethany’s healing. Pray for strength and grace for me as I care for Bethany, and for the needs of our church family during this time. And lastly, pray for our kids. Two of them are on the other side of the planet wishing desperately to give their mom a hug. One is ten years old, trying to figure out what all this means and struggling with the potential possibilities of what may come.

That Being Said…

That being said, we are confident that God is fully in control of each step we take. We KNOW that not one moment of our suffering is wasted, and that He IS using this both for OUR good and HIS glory! Our church family has never been more unified and committed to loving others and loving Jesus. Over the past three or four months, we’ve seen several people find salvation in Jesus! Several that we have been praying for for over a year! We will be having a special baptism service at the river scheduled for July 9, which I’m SO EXCITED to tell you about! People are being added to the church family. The fellowship is so sweet, often lasting hours after the service. God’s visible working within our church family hasn’t stopped. It’s still ongoing. And we’re SO THANKFUL!! Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving. Thank you for being faithful.

**To download a pdf version, please click here

Carter Connection March 2023

This morning on my way to a meeting, I noticed the cherry blossoms were really starting to bloom all around our city. It was something that I have been looking forward to for a long time. In Japan, this is a big thing. There are even cherry blossom forecasts on the news that announce weeks ahead of time when they estimate the cherry blossoms will start blooming throughout the country. You could say it’s the national announcement of spring and warm weather, where new life begins to flourish all around us. And by God’s grace, it seems to be a season of potential new life flourishing in our church family too!

So Refreshing!

Our church family has been excited to see a surge of new people who have been coming with a deep desire to know more about Jesus. Let me tell you about a few of them. Noriko hasn’t been saved for very long, and she’s still eagerly learning about what it means to be a Christian. A few weeks ago, in our Thursday Bible study at church, she mentioned that she wasn’t a Christian yet. So the next Monday, when Bethany and a few ladies were gathering for their morning Bible study at a local coffee shop, Bethany wanted to see where she was in her faith. “Who do you think Jesus is, Noriko?” “Oh, he’s the Son of God.” “Why did He come to earth?” “Well, He came to earth to die on the cross for our sins and to give us eternal life!” “Do you believe that?” “Of course!” “What happened after Jesus died, Noriko?” “He rose from the dead!” “Do you believe that too?” “Definitely!” “Has Jesus forgiven your sins?” “Oh yes!” All the ladies responded, “That’s what a Christian is, Noriko!” “So why did you think that you weren’t a Christian yet?” “I just don’t know enough yet, and I haven’t read the Bible enough yet.”

Here’s the thing about Noriko. Even though she’s figuring out what it means to be a Christian, she’s sharing her faith. Two months ago, Noriko brought her friends to church to share Jesus with them. Kenji and Yukari haven’t missed a Sunday since. One week, Yukari told us that she was going to have surgery on Wednesday, but she was still pretty sure she could make it on Sunday. Sure enough, they were both there, soaking in the Scripture, asking questions, and learning more about Jesus. Noriko, Bethany, and other believers often sit with them after church to help them know more and more about Jesus.

Sitting in another part of our small auditorium is Youko. She called me three weeks ago out of the blue on a Thursday. “Hi, is it ok if I come to your church tonight?” “Sure! Come on over!” That night, she told us she had never been inside a church in her life. But earlier that morning, she just had a strong feeling of wanting to go to a Christian church. This coming April will be our 20th year of ministry here in Japan. I can count on one hand (with probably a few fingers left over) of someone who just came to church out of the blue like that without knowing anyone.) As we gathered around the table, our brothers and sisters shared what they had learned from the Gospel of Luke, our passage for the day. And through their testimonies, Youko was introduced to Jesus for the first time. At the end of the study, she exclaimed, “So I just realized for the first time that I’m not alone. Jesus is here!” That’s not a bad response for your first encounter with Jesus! She hasn’t missed a Sunday OR a midweek service since, always asking questions.

Over the past month or two, if you look at our Sunday gatherings after the service, you will find small groups of people scattered around our auditorium. Christians happily sharing Jesus with those who want to know more, and brothers and sisters encouraging one another in their faith. Last week they didn’t go home for almost two hours. It’s fun to see. It’s not always like this. But right now, it’s SO refreshing. God is helping our church to grow, to mature.

A few things that we would love for you to pray for. Our Easter outreach is coming up in a few weeks, on… you guessed it: Easter Sunday. Because of Covid, this will be our first one in four years. We’re really excited about it! Pray for us to be able to share Jesus with more people in our city! Pray for lots of families to come to hear about the resurrection of Jesus!

**To download a pdf version, please click here.

Carter Connection January 2023

Dear Praying Friends,

Over the last several months, our families (the Carter family, as well as our church family here in Japan), have experienced several significant “new starts”. As we thank God for His grace to give us these new beginnings, we also continue to trust Him to help us and guide us in them, so that His goodness and faithfulness is on full display as He walks with us!

A (re)start of community outreaches

Since Covid started, our church family has had to focus our outreaches primarily on personal interactions with family and friends while we waited for the social fear of Covid to gradually subside. Throughout this time, God has continued to help us make new connections; to share with new people the good news of the Gospel. And while that continues, we’ve also been excited to begin to expand once again into reaching more of our community through different events to reach out to even more people.

This Christmas, we had two major Christmas events, one specifically for children, and one geared toward families. In each event, we were so thankful to see many first-time guests, as well as those who had come to previous events before Covid. Over the two Christmas events, we saw over 40 visitors attend (not including our church family) and hear the story of the Gospel through the birth of Jesus. We have several more events scheduled over the next few months as we get back into the full swing of this vital aspect of our outreach here in Tokyo. We’re really praying that the Holy Spirit will use this to continue to draw them to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Will you pray with us to that end? That God will, even now, open the eyes of their understanding so that they, too, can see the hope that comes from faith in Jesus?

A new start for one in our family

On a personal note, we had the special joy of seeing our son Tyler married to his new bride, Morgan. The wedding took place at our home church in Louisville, and we were so thankful that God worked it out for us to be with them on this special day. For missionaries, it is deeply encouraging to have a church family who loves and cares for your children as they return to the States to begin their lives away from us. Their desire to walk alongside our kids, to speak into their lives, and to invest in their spiritual growth gives us the assurance to confidently focus on our ministry here in Japan knowing that they have the care they need. For those of you who do take the time to invest in the children of your missionaries, THANK YOU!! Your investment is vital and deeply appreciated!

A potential new start for a much-needed ministry

Currently the average age of pastors in Japan is 65 years old. We need pastors! One of our dreams in ministering in Japan is, while we care for the church family God has entrusted us with, and as we reach those in our area here in Tokyo, that God would also use us to minister specifically to pastors and churches throughout Japan. It seems that God is beginning to open doors and bring people into our ministry in a very real way to enable us to effectively do just that. We are in the VERY early stages of potentially beginning a ministry to train and equip young pastors, not only in Japan, but also in East Asia as they begin the task of shepherding the churches God has called them to. This is a monumental task and it will require much discernment, planning, and prayer. So over these next several months, would you pray with us, specifically for wisdom and discernment that, if this is what God wants us to do, He would give us the wisdom we need to add this new ministry while caring for those He called us to? We sure do appreciate you. We’re so thankful for how you take time to pray for us, for sacrificing to financially care for us as we serve God here. Your part of this ministry is crucial. And by God’s grace, the fruit of your part of this ministry will continue to abound!

To download a pdf version, please click here

Carter Connection September 2022

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!

To download a printable pdf, please click here.

Carter Connection June 2022

Lack of parking spaces. I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed this problem. How thankful I am to have it once again! As the COVID restrictions have been gradually easing here in Japan, Sunday services have also been gradually getting fuller and fuller. New families, new believers, and those who haven’t been able to come in a long time are once again filling the seats, connecting with one another, building relationships, and working to reach those around them. God is good!

Did You Hear!?

In our last prayer letter, I got to share with you about one of the ladies who trusted Christ named “Yoko.” She was one who was saved recently through the Bible study of another missionary lady in a nearby city. The other day, Bethany was at a park with Asher, and Yoko happened to see them off in the distance. She excitedly came up to Bethany and said, “Did you hear!? Did you hear!? I trusted Jesus!” The joy in her heart was clear to see! God had graciously called us to be faithful in planting the Gospel and another to water that seed, as God produced the bountiful work of salvation in her soul. And in holding us up in caring for our needs and praying for us, I thank God that you too get to share in the joy of her salvation!

Helping Hands

Waichiro and Yoshie were saved in their 20’s, raised their three children in a Christian home, and have been faithfully following Jesus for many years. (The story of their salvation is incredible. Both of them were saved out of a strict cult. Yoshie’s story includes a Buddhist priest who, in order to rescue her out of that cult, actually drove her to a nearby church, where she met Waichiro (who a few years earlier had left that cult and gotten saved), and more importantly, where she met Jesus!)

About a year ago, Waichiro and Yoshie moved to a neighborhood near our church to care for some health issues. Not long after, due to an increase in covid, their previous church, along with many other churches in Tokyo (including ours), had to transition to online streaming rather than in-person services. One day, as they were walking around their neighborhood, they discovered our church, and started watching our services online as well. After the covid restrictions eased, they came to visit our services, and felt God leading them to become part of our church family. After receiving the blessings of their former pastor, they moved their membership to Akigawa Baptist Church, and have jumped in with both feet, giving a helping hand wherever needed. It’s been so encouraging to see them welcome and care for new visitors, to see them invest in the lives of their brothers and sisters, and to see them grow in their own walk with Jesus.

This Father’s Day, Waichiro will be preaching and sharing his testimony during the Sunday service. We praise God for the way He cares for our church family by bringing in just the right people at just the right time! Please pray that God will use his testimony to encourage our church family and to reach others for Christ.

Thanks so much for your faithfulness in praying for us, and for praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ here in Japan. We so appreciate you all! Also, please pray for more parking spaces. And for even more people who need them.

To download a printable pdf, please click here.

Carter Connection March 2022

Over the years, we’ve seen people from all walks of life come to know Jesus through our ministry here in Japan. Some of the stories of how people have come to know Jesus have been incredible. Let me share with you the accounts of two women who have been rescued and redeemed by Jesus. Both have an eternal future that is secure because of who they now are in Christ. Both have begun their walk as followers of Jesus, but the path that has led to their salvation, and the path that they will be on as followers of Jesus are quite different. (Real names have been changed to protect privacy.)

A Tale of Two Salvations

Eiko had come into contact with Kenji, a young man in her workplace. They both were interested in each other, and as they got to know each other, she quickly discovered that Kenji was a Christian, and that his faith in Jesus meant much more to him than how so many around her viewed religion. One day, Kenji invited her to meet his parents who were also Christians, and to visit the church they attended (Akigawa Baptist Church) to see more of what Christians believed. That first Sunday of 2022 was the day I got to meet Eiko for the first time. From that day, the one Sunday a month that she was off work, they would come to church together and then spend the day with Kenji’s parents where they would spend hours answering her questions about who Jesus is and what it meant to follow Him. She learned how God answers the prayers of those who follow Him and asked if we would be willing to pray for her father who was facing cancer surgery. The day of the surgery, the doctors were astonished to find the biggest tumor had completely disappeared leaving just a few small tumors to clean up! Last week I received a text from Kenji’s father letting me that Eiko had chosen to trust Jesus as her Savior, and that both Eiko and Kenji wanted to spend a few hours once a month with me to help them to grow in their faith. Praise God!

Yoko’s story started 8 years earlier. A lady she knew had invited her to bring her young daughter to a children’s Christmas event at Akigawa Baptist Church. For both her and her daughter, this was their first time hearing the story of Jesus. And it deeply touched her to hear of how God sent His son Jesus to save her. For Yoko though, coming to church on Sundays wasn’t an option. She had married into a strict Buddhist farming family where anything other than Buddhism was prohibited. While church was prohibited, she was still free to come to the outreach events of the church and so she would continue to come to the events to learn more about Jesus year after year. At each event, Yoko would tell me that she was listening to the church’s sermon podcast every week, but still not ready to trust Jesus yet because of her family situation. When covid started a few years ago, we had to suspend the outreach events. We weren’t able to see her except for the rare occasion when we happened to run into her around town. A few weeks ago, Bethany received a text from another missionary lady in the area. Yoko had been able to go to a ladies’ Bible study that the missionary lady was having in her home, and in one of those Bible studies, Yoko was finally able to put her trust in Jesus! Yoko specifically asked the other missionary lady to let us know that she had trusted Jesus! Wow! Her journey, due to her family situation, will likely be much more difficult. And yet her eternity is secure in Christ as she learns to walk by faith in Him!

Both of these ladies are precious treasures in the sight of our Father! Both have come to know Him, in part because you have chosen to forego temporary earthly treasures in order to lay up heavenly treasures that will last forever! The salvation of these two are part of those treasures that you have a part in, and I have no doubt that there are many others whose stories we have yet to hear until we see them face to face one day!

To download a printable pdf, please click here.

Carter Connection January 2022

For the last few months, as we’ve been able to meet together, it’s been encouraging to see our church family continuing to grow in many different ways. Our outreach events have helped many new people to hear the Gospel, and we’re seeing consistent growth as a church family as well. Our Father is so good and kind in how he cares for us!  

Outreach Events- They kept showing up!

Thanksgiving 2021

In November, about a month and a half after the emergency status in Tokyo was lifted, we held our first “tentative” outreach event with a Thanksgiving dinner Sunday. I had no idea how many people would come, as people were still a little wary of Covid. So, we decided to hold the event at our church, and set up tables to see what would happen. In no time, our little auditorium was filled! That Sunday we had 9 first-time visitors, along with many friends and family members of our church family who had been away for nearly a year.

So, for Christmas, we decided to rent a hall to have more space, and hold two events back-to-back. On Saturday, December 18, we held a children’s Christmas event, and then on Sunday, December 19, we had a Christmas candlelight service. At the children’s event, we had 50 children and parents attend! Over half of them, 22 children and 9 parents, were visitors!

The next day, for the candlelight service, we had an entirely different group of people come, and again, over 50 people came! During the service, people kept arriving and filling up the seats. It was awesome! For this service, we had 31 visitors as well, and over 50 in attendance. For us here in Japan, it was very encouraging to see so many people willing to come to hear the story of the Gospel through the birth of Jesus!

A week and a half later, we got together with another Baptist Church for a snow camp. I had the opportunity to speak to the campers throughout the 3 days of camp, and it was good to see decisions made throughout the time at camp.

Kids Christmas 2021Candlelight Christmas 2021


Growing Consistently

Over the last year we’ve lost nearly half of our church family due to covid restrictions as well as other reasons, but God has been so gracious to us. As we’ve been meeting just in the last few months, our church Sunday gathering has been gradually and consistently growing. While we are still not where we were before Covid, that’s ok. God is giving us many new people to witness to, as well as new families to encourage and help to grow in their faith!

Here are a few things that we would love for you to pray for. As the Omicron variant is starting to surge here in Japan, several surrounding prefectures are moving toward another emergency status. Please pray for the numbers to stay down so that that the churches in these prefectures, as well as ours and those here in Tokyo will continue to be able to gather together. Also please pray for those who heard the Gospel at the different outreach events, that they will be further drawn to the good news of the Gospel and be willing to put their faith in Christ. Pray for us as well, for wisdom and grace throughout the coming months as we help our brothers and sisters to grow in their faith, and to reach those around us with the Gospel.

To download a printable pdf, please click here.

Carter Connection October 2021

For those of you who haven’t been able to meet for a period of time, do you remember that moment when you finally get back together, sing that first song, and hear your voices once again join together with vigor in praising your Father? And as you look around, you see that the emotion welling up in you is also on the edge of bursting out on the faces of your brothers and sisters in Christ as well! We felt that again. And it was SO GOOD!

…Aaaaand We’re Back!

I waited a little longer than normal in writing this because I wanted to be able to tell you that we have finally, once again, been able to meet again. And boy does it feel AMAZING! To sing together, to enjoy the warm fellowship between the services, to hear the laughter and warm greetings of one another as they catch up from the week. For me personally, it’s a welcome reprieve from staring into the cold, empty lens of the camera that I’ve been preaching to for most of this year. How refreshing it is to be able to once again see the attentive gaze of our church family as they respond to the words of Scripture!

The most recent state of emergency here in Tokyo ended at the end of September, and we were able to start meeting again on the first Sunday of October. We hope and pray that another emergency status will not be declared, and in faith we’re making preparations for outreach events for the rest of the year. (I’m learning to not take these things for granted anymore. 😊) As our church family starts to gradually get back into the flow of attending again, we’ll start with a Thanksgiving service and fellowship next month to focus on the goodness and faithfulness of God throughout the year. Please pray for those in our church family who have been away from gathering this year, as well as for the Christmas outreach and winter camp we’ll be preparing for over the next several months.

While We Were WaitingMen working on the auditorium

In anticipation of the return of our church family, during the month of September, our church family began the task of taking care of some much-needed updates and repairs to the church building. We started with removing the old flooring and installing new flooring in the auditorium, (Here are several men in our church who are beginning the installation of the new floor.) We still have painting, expanding storage, and other projects that we will be working on over the coming weeks. It has definitely helped to give us a sense of a fresh new start for sure.

Meeting the “Regular Attenders” For the First Time

So far, we’ve had visitors each Sunday. On our first Sunday, we had a “first-time” visitor, a Christian lady who had been regularly watching the Sunday services on YouTube. It was a little amusing to meet someone that I’ve never met before who was familiar with me. That being said, I am so thankful that God has used our media ministry to help others as they grow in their faith in Christ, as well as to help others to find faith in Christ. The next Sunday, she brought along one of her friends to the service. We’re so thankful for them and for others who have become a part of our church family throughout this year even when we weren’t able to meet in person.

Thank you for praying with us throughout this year! While it’s true we don’t know what the next few months hold, we are confident in knowing that our Father will sustain us and help us, just as He has throughout this year.

To download a printable pdf, please click here.

Carter Connection July 2021

If you keep up with our letters, you may notice that this letter sounds a lot like our last letter. And you would be correct. While on the surface, we may not notice much change to our situation, below the surface… our Father is always working. He is faithfully giving grace and strength to those who are His own, while drawing more to Himself through the redemption of His Son!


Here in Tokyo, it seems that over the last year, it’s been a cycle of our church family getting to enjoy gathering together for brief moments in between long periods of states of emergency. In our last letter, we were just starting another state of emergency that was supposed to last until the end of May. It was ultimately extended until the end of June. We were able to meet for these last three weeks, before Tokyo declared yet another state of emergency. Starting this Sunday, we will be going back to online services until at least the end of August. This means that beginning in September, our church family has only been able to gather together corporately for 8 Sundays this entire year. It has also meant that we’ve been unable to do many of our evangelistic outreach events because of the state of emergencies. Honestly, this year has been difficult. That being said, we are thankful for all the ways we’ve been able to reach out to people, including two Sunday livestream services, the church podcast, Zoom meetings, along with the personal pastoring of our church family.

What Has Helped Us

For our church family it seems that we have two different trajectories within the same church family. For those who are willing to meet in small Bible study groups throughout the week, I see immense growth in their faith and confidence in Christ, as well as their bond of brotherhood with one another. Our core group of believers has been consistently growing stronger through all of this! Praise God for that! All throughout this year, I have been awestruck to see how this one simple act: reading the same Scripture throughout the week and then getting together to talk about what we read, has done so much to mature both our seasoned believers and those who are young in the faith!  I can’t help but see the grace of God’s timing in preparing us for this year. We had just started our first discipleship group at the beginning of last year, and the second group a few months after that- a few months before the surge of COVID. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, as He guides us through the words of Scripture, these two groups have been the glue that has kept the bond of our core believers strong throughout all of this.

For those who have been unwilling or unable to take part in these groups, we fear that they are drifting further away from our church family. Please pray for them. My heart yearns for them to discover once again the joy and encouragement of gathering together with their brothers and sisters.

How He Helps Us to Help Others

Our bonus ministry of being able to help missionaries get back into Japan is still thriving. Most returning missionaries are required to finish a two-week quarantine before they can continue on to their homes throughout the country. Because we are relatively close to the airports in Tokyo, God has placed us in the perfect position to help meet this need. Even as I write this, we have a dear missionary couple staying with us before they head off to Okinawa. Their stay in Tokyo for two weeks would have cost them over $3,000. I have a feeling this ministry will last for a bit longer as more missionaries are traveling for various reasons over the coming months. Again, praise God for his grace in preparing us to serve our fellow laborers in this way!

Thank you for consistently and faithfully praying for us. To know that our brothers and sisters are boldly coming to our Father’s throne on our behalf means the world to us!

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