Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Bits of Good News and Gratitude

It's been an encouraging few weeks on the "Japan front".  Here are a few things that have us especially encouraged today:

1.  Shiloh's buffet breakfast was a roaring success and the congregation raised around $2,600!  As I understand it, this was a record-setting amount for a breakfast at Shiloh.  We're so grateful to all those who got up early and worked so hard to make the event happen.  We're also thankful for such generous contributions during the event.

2.  We received news today that another church has included us in their 2011 budget at $300 per month.  That brings the total of our ongoing, monthly support to just over $2,000!  This evening, our family colored in a new section of our "giving chart" and went out for pizza at Cici's to celebrate the crossing of the $2,000 mark.

3.  Also, today, I received a call from a pastor in our presbytery who wanted me to know that an anonymous donor in his church has contributed a very large sum to our support account.  I'm excited to report that after paying the bills (which include some training expenses that we'd previously attended on "credit"), we expect to enter January with over $5,000 in our support account!

The above developments couldn't come at a better time.  With my salary at Grace Fellowship ending next month, it's nice to be closing the year with such strong numbers.  Of course, $2,000/month won't replace my salary, so we're not completely in the clear yet...but we're getting closer...and we now have the luxury of some surplus funds in our account from which we can draw if we need them.  Our Father has always taken care of us, and we know he'll continue to do so - one way or another!  Thanks for your prayers...and please join us in thanking God for these new developments.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A highlight from the Global Missions Conference

Joe Novenson of Lookout Mountain, TN was one of the main speakers at the Global Missions Conference we attended last weekend.  Before his first talk, he interviewed an African American pastor from the podium.  I wish I'd have caught this brother's name, but I missed it - or can't remember it.  Here's the main thrust of the interview:

Joe:  When did you become a Christian?
Pastor:  When I was 18 years old.
Joe:  When did you plant your first church?
Pastor:  4 years later.
Joe:  Brother, I'm not trying to embarrass you here, and I thank you for giving me permission to ask you this last question in front of all these folks...when did you learn to read?
Pastor:  When I was 40 years old.

Joe went on to describe this man's ministry, which included several drug rehab centers and church plants.  I think I often make all this too hard and fall into the trap that the advance of the Kingdom is dependent upon more learning, more money, or more resources.  But it's "by MY Spirit" says the Lord.  Thanks, Joe, for reminding me!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Global Missions Conference, Chattanooga, TN

Future Mem's Nagoya Team with the Newsomes & Youngs
*** Please forgive grammatical errors and typos.  I'm writing this at midnight, and my day started at 5am!  However, tomorrow is a full day, and I want to go ahead and express some important thoughts. ***

This weekend, Gina and I are at MTW's Global Missions Conference in Chattanooga, TN.  Our first day has been full and exciting.  The Holy Spirit seems to be pulling together a lot of pieces in MTW's ministries in Japan, and that's especially evident in the teams functioning in the city of Nagoya.

Wayne and Amy Newsome (our team leaders) are here for the conference - along with several other couples who are being led to join the church planting effort in Nagoya.  In all, we met with 3 other couples and a single man who have now been approved by MTW to join the team in Nagoya.  This new group will almost double the size of the church planting team serving in the city and open up all sorts of new possibilities for expansion!

After the meeting with our future team members, Gina and I had the opportunity to serve at the "Japan Partnership Booth" in the exhibit hall, where we met two additional couples who are considering a move to Nagoya!  To put all this into context, I spoke with a former missionary to Japan recently who was lamenting the fact that he didn't know of ANY new missionaries headed to the country.  He was discouraged, because mission-sending agencies were abandoning Japan due to the fact that conversions were so slow, and the cost of living was so high.  When I told him about MTW's commitment to Japan, he rejoiced.  I can't wait until our next conversation when I can add these new details.

To add to the above, we heard a rousing testimony from Michael Oh during tonight's opening session.  Michael is a South Korean missionary to Japan who now heads up MTW's "seminary team" in Nagoya.  In 2005, the team founded Christ Bible Seminary (CBS) with the vision for training and equipping future Japanese leaders (especially church planters).  Some of you may know that the seminary has been meeting at Nisshin Christ Church since its inception, but they're in need of more room to expand.  During his talk, Michael announced the good news that this morning, the seminary team signed papers to purchase a new building in an ideal location in the heart of the city.  During the real estate bubble, the property was valued at $15 million, but the seminary has now purchased the property for just over $1 million!

It's exciting to see God weaving together so many different threads in Japan right now.  He's stirring up missionaries to go to a hard, expensive country.  He's opening the door for further expansion of CBS, and stirring many men and women to give generously to the effort (something we're experiencing first hand).  I'm no prophet, but it seems like something big is in the works!