Friday, June 29, 2018

Our upcoming return to Nagoya




"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)


Hi Friends!
I have to admit that we have mixed feelings as we write this post. This year of home assignment has been very good for the Sinks! We've savored time with family and friends (both old and new), and we've deeply enjoyed meeting with many of you to talk about ministry among the Japanese. It's also been a time of healing for our hearts and rest for our bodies. Some of you have been a big part of that - thank you!

All that said, we're delighted to share that God is now opening the door for our return to Nagoya on August 7th! Even though we're sad to be leaving, we're excited that God is allowing us to return and continue what we began during our first term. As we GO, we're leaning into Christ's promise, "I am with you always, to the end of the age." More details follow...

Reporting on the Trip in May
In our last update we asked you to pray for my short trip to Japan in May. During the first week of that trip, I had the privilege of helping to lead Grace Week, which is a retreat fostering spiritual renewal for Christian leaders in Japan. Grace Week is spearheaded by leaders from Serge, MTW, and the Church Planting Institute of Japan (+ some others), so it is also the fruit of a lot of Christ-exalting unity between missions agencies. That's special in itself!

God saw fit to bless the time at Grace Week. There were around 18 participants, which made it smaller than other retreats we've done in the past. The smaller number actually made for less hurry and deeper interactions with one another. Grace Week is gaining a reputation for being a safe place where leaders can be honest about their struggles and expect help. This time, participants came prepared to open up, and we saw the Holy Spirit faithfully working over the course of the week.

I spent my second week in Nagoya with leaders from ANF (and CBI). I'm happy to say that the church is healthy. Paul, Hide-san, and Damon have been working together effectively in Nagakute. Yu-san and Mitsu have been doing a great job downtown. There were new faces at each campus, and it was encouraging to see that our interns and apprentices have grown over the last year. It makes us EXCITED to return and rejoin that work!
Participants teachers, and mentors together at the end of the Grace Week in May.  It was a special privilege to serve these fellow believers who are sharing the Gospel all over Japan.

Our Financial Situation
The fact that we have been cleared to return to Japan is a testimony to how quickly and positively our partners have responded to our move to Serge! That said, we think our current plans and financial condition require some explanation. Here are some important points that will help you understand where we are right now:
  • When we returned to the U.S. last Summer, our monthly contributions were a bit less than our budgeted monthly expenses. However, our support account was very healthy, so we were able to absorb the monthly deficit with the expectation that God would provide additional partners in the future.
  • Most of the churches and individuals who have partnered with us over the last year have already communicated that they will continue their support through Serge. 
  • We currently have LESS of a monthly deficit than we had when we returned home last summer. That's great! However, our monthly income is still a good bit under budget.
  • MTW is allowing us to use down the surplus that remains in our account from last term. Those funds are enough to balance our budget over our next term - which makes it possible for us to return to Japan at this time.So, we have the funds in place to move forward, but things are very tight without a lot of room for error. As you pray for us, will you please ask God to raise up some additional financial partners over the coming months/year?
You can also use this link to set up a contribution or make a "pledge" to our Serge account (A "pledge" is just a way to tell us about your plans to make a contribution in the future and allows us to plan ahead).

Thank you...
We have been amazed by the kind of progress and Gospel-fruit we've seen in Nagoya over the course of our first term. Looking at things through human eyes, there's no explanation for that. We are new to the culture, have miles to go in our language abilities, and are weak in so many different ways. Yet God has seen fit to work through us (together with you) to advance His Kingdom in Japan.

As we are preparing to depart in August, we're conscious of what an important part each of you plays in this work. Your generous giving keeps us on the field, but your fervent praying makes the work effective. Thank you for the role you're playing - for your partnership with us among this unreached people. Please keep it up...we're going back in! :)

We love you and thank God for your partnership with us from the first day until now!

For your Praying
  1. We have some vacation time scheduled during July and August. Please pray for good rest and connection with one another during that time.
  2. As of today, we are not sure where we will live when we land in Japan! Pray for guidance as we seek short-term accommodations and also begin searching for housing.
  3. Pray for God to raise up some additional financial partners in the coming weeks/months. We'd certainly appreciate you asking God if He's leading you to be one of those. :)
  4. Lots of goodbyes are on the horizon. Of course, that includes parents, family, friends, and Joshua. We need a lot of grace.
  5. Please pray that the Spirit will give wisdom, humility, and insight as we re-enter ministry in Japan. The situation at ANF will have changed over this past year, and new leaders have emerged (praise God)! We want to return well.
  6. Pray for Gina and my marriage, for our parenting, and for the boys. Pray that the fruits of the Spirit would be evident in our family and we'd be living out of a deep awareness of the Father's love for us during a time of increased stress.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Announcing our move to Serge

“But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me.” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9a)

Dear Friends,

The past nine months of home assignment have been good for our family in so many ways. God has used the time to help us in our marriage, as a family, and in clarifying our sense of calling to Japan. In our last two newsletters, we’ve hinted that we’ve been praying about our specific role for next term. At this point, we’re ready to tell you about an important change we’re making as we prepare to return to Nagoya.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul said he was staying in Ephesus because a wide door for effective work had opened to him. Our context is different, but we also see a wide door for effective ministry open before us, and we want to respond accordingly. About a month ago, Gina and I accepted a new appointment with Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission) to return to Japan this summer. Serge is a theologically reformed, non-denominational mission agency that was established in 1983. The mission now has over 250 missionaries doing church planting, leadership training, and mercy ministry in 20 countries around the world.

In recent years, Serge has had a growing presence in Asia and has been praying that God would provide leaders with experience in that region to help grow that arm of the organization. In Japan, our paths have crossed frequently since Serge has partnered closely with both MTW and the Church Planting Institute (CPI) of Japan. We were surprised and happy when they approached us last summer to ask if we would pray about formally joining Serge to help grow and lead their work in Japan.

Of course, this decision hasn’t been easy, but it came at a time when Gina and I were already wrestling with how God is calling us to set priorities for our next term. We believe we should devote more of our energy to church planting through mentoring and spiritual renewal among Christian leaders in Japan. As we prayed and talked with leaders at both Serge and MTW, we realized that Serge is strongly positioned to come alongside us and provide important resources for that work. Our conversations with Serge leaders have also challenged us to dream bigger and pray about how we can work together for Christ’s Kingdom across Japan and even regionally within Asia. It’s a little scary to make a change like this, but we believe that God is asking us to trust him and follow him through this open door.

We’re especially thankful for the way our MTW leadership supported us as we labored over this decision. Although this new appointment means we will be officially leaving MTW, we will continue to partner closely with MTW teams in Japan – especially through Christ Bible Institute and CPI-Japan. We’re happy to have made strong friendships within the MTW family and expect those relationships will continue for the rest of our lives.

At this point, Gina and I are fully engaged in the process of transitioning over to Serge. Your partnership (in all of its various forms) has been critical to our work so far, and we are asking each of you to continue with us as we return to Japan later this year. As of now, our MTW account has sufficient funds for the transition period. So, if you are one of our financial partners, we’d like to ask you to stop all giving through our MTW account (ASAP) and begin giving through our Serge account. We know this is an extra step, but it should take only a few minutes to set up a new account on Serge’s website at the following link: https://serge.org/staff/id-54662/. If you need step-by-step directions for changing a recurring donation from MTW over to Serge, please click here.

Let me close this letter with a word of heartfelt thanks for your ministry with us. You have all been faithful partners these past five years, and we’ve rejoiced to see God do some big things over this first term. If I’m honest, God has done more than we had the faith to expect or even imagine! He’s used us together for his name and glory. Thank you for being so generous with your prayers and giving - and for standing with us in this work. If you have questions or concerns about our ministry or this move to Serge, please reach out to us. You can email us at grace4japan@gmail.com or even call us on the phone (email me for my number if you need it). I’d be happy to talk with you in more detail.

Grace and Peace,

Jeremy and Gina Sink