Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Wilson's Ministry in Nagoya

Tom Wilson, musician, choir director
Gina and I are especially grateful that God is leading us to a team that already has a lot of Gospel-momentum in the city of Nagoya.  Tom and Teresa Wilson are key members of that team.  Tom is a trained musician and uses music and choir to reach Japanese people with the Gospel.  The following links will connect you to some videos of recent choral concerts done in and around Nagoya.

  • Click HERE for a video of short clips of every song at the concert (copyright laws only allow for clips of less than 30 seconds each on youtube).
  • Click HERE for a a video of the choir singing Amazing Grace in English and Japanese (not copyrighted).

As you watch these videos, you'll be excited to hear that most of the people you see onstage are not believers (yet).  Participating in choir provided another opportunity for them to hear the gospel, and even to proclaim it in song from their own mouths!  Since these videos were taken, two of the women you see onstage have become Christians!  One lady said that as she sang the gospel songs in rehearsal, she realized that the Holy Spirit had been working in her heart.  She believed the words she was singing, and placed her hope in Christ.  In addition to the 70 singers in the choir, around 500 people attended the charity concert and the team raised the equivalent of $2000 for Haiti relief efforts.

Teresa Wilson

The concert series created a lot of interest around Nagoya.  A local cable television station in the area actually reported on the choir.  The report showed clips from choir rehearsals and also interviewed several of the choir members.  Tom and Teresa sat for an interview in their home, and  shared about gospel music, how they became involved with it, and why they lead gospel choirs.  Tom says, "We were very happy that they didn't edit our answers!  It's very clearly presented that we lead gospel choir to tell people about Jesus' love.  I'm not sure an American TV show would give us as much freedom to talk about Christ!"  If you'd like to see the interview (complete with Tom's helpful English commentary), click HERE.

There are so many more marvelous stories of how God has been using the MTW team to reach Japanese people living in Nagoya, and I'll continue to share those here.  The team has a long history, and a good track record.  A solid foundation is being laid, and the team is actively pressing out more and more.  In the years to come, we expect to plant numerous new churches in the region.  We want to see the proclamation of the Gospel continue to grow and expand until the glory of God covers Japan as the waters cover the seas (Hab 2:14).  

Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to know how you can be a part of reaching Nagoya with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Major Transition

     Time passes so quickly! In April, when we announced our intentions to help with the church planting effort in Nagoya, the elders put forward a transition plan that would gradually move me out of the pastoral position at Grace Fellowship over a series of 3 stages. The first phase of that plan ends on August 29th, when I will preach my last "regular" sermon at the church Gina and I helped plant 10 years ago.

     I have to admit that I feel very conflicted about this transition. On the one hand, I'm as certain as I've ever been that God is calling our family to serve in Japan. He's given us a great deal of confidence about the decision, and our gaze has already shifted in that direction.  The idea of being free to focus more of our energy on preparations for Japan is exciting.  On the other hand, the people at Grace Fellowship are our friends. We love them a lot, and I take deep satisfaction in sharing the Word of God with them week in and week out. Maybe this is similar to the competing desires Paul expressed in Philippians 1:21-24 (though Paul was referring to his own death):

"...For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the 
flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose 
I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. 
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account."

     Of course, I'm not alone.  The rest of our dear friends at Grace Fellowship are wrestling with the same sense of tension.  Most of the families in the church have expressed their wholehearted agreement with this move.  They understand the deep need for the Gospel in Japan, and they're honored to be able to send their own pastor to help.  At the same time, it's not hard to see the grief in their eyes.  Change is hard, and goodbyes are some of the most difficult changes of all.  Please pray for us, friends.  Pray for our family and for the congregation of Grace Fellowship during the month of August.  Ask God to strengthen our faith and to allow the changes ahead to cause us to loosen our grip on this world and look to the promised land where there won't be any more hard goodbyes.



*** If you'd like to see a timeline that illustrates our transition plan from ministry at Grace Fellowship to ministry in Nagoya, please click HERE.