As The Winds Blow

Dear Friends,
I hope this letter finds you all safe and well. We continue to pray for you all who have been affected by the wildfires. Praying for protection and that the Lord would keep you all in his good grace. I miss you all and look forward to the day when I can see you again. 
John 3:8 says “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Many times the Spirit takes us on quite a ride. We don’t know where it is all going or even where some of the opportunities he presents us with have come from. All we can do is remain flexible and go with the wind. This last summer was a lot like that for me

It started during our annual VBS in July. The last time I wrote to
you all, I asked for prayer for a softening of heart for all those we minister to through our English outreach. And yours prayers impacted. I did nothing different, but the flood gates opened up and we had more kids from Shine outreaches come than ever before. But it was more than that, because suddenly people we never even invited started showing up. Shine kids we haven’t talked to in years suddenly started contacting us out of the blue and asking if there were any summer events this year. We mentioned it to one of the mothers at Daisy’s Kindergarten, and suddenly she is inviting all of her friends to come. And even though Daisy’s Kindergarten is a Christian school, most of the people who came to VBS where not christian and had never set foot inside a church before. Even a government worker who was assigned to check up on our youngest, Hazel, ended sending both of her kids as well. Never saw it coming. Between the two VBS events we had around 65 kids show up. And some kids had such a great time at the Machida VBS that they went all the way to Setagaya the following Saturday to attend VBS there too. 

Soon after, the pastors of our church came to me and asked me to take over leadership of Horizon’s college group, Funky Friday Night. I never saw it coming. Now, I had never written about this before, but the reason this is so amazing is that this group had been on my heart for years and actually (and Zach Wise can attest to this) I had been praying for a way to minister to this group for quite some time now. However, I could not due to certain cultural issues that had kept me at a respectful distance. But suddenly the wind blew in a new direction and now I am leading the group. I still can’t believe it. We have been studying through the book of Hebrews and are up to chapter 5 now in our bible study. The discussions that are going on are awesome to hear. And a week ago we had our second dinner night with guest testimony from my friend Hide who shared about how the word of God saved him out of depression and changed his life. So amazing to see. Pray for me as this is the first time I have lead a group entirely in Japanese and am still getting used to it. I have been feeling the limits of my Japanese especially, so please pray for my continued growth to meet the needs of the group. Also pray for the continued spiritual growth of the group itself.

Not long after that, the wind gave me another turn. One of the teachers here at the bible college decided that she wanted to retire. And with a spot open, the pastors came to me and asked to teach a class once a week here at the Horizon Bible college. And again, I was just in shock. I didn’t think I would ever be teaching at the bible college here. The class I was asked to teach is an English immersion class on the book of 1 John. We actually just had our first class today and it was a very blessed time. Often times seeing the Word in another language can often give us new perspectives on passages that we have become accustomed to, and I think it will will be a blessing for the student. For me also, the preparation for the class has been very powerful and simplifying 1 John to language an English beginner can understand gave me a new perspective.

Please pray for Shine Kids as this Fall semester will be starting from this week with around 27 students in Setagaya.  The Shine English language school started already from last week with 36 regular students. And pray for more children to come to the program in Setagaya and deeper relationships with those who are return students.

Thank you all always for your continued prayers and support. 

Grace and Peace,
Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, Caleb, and Hazel Robinson

P.S. Daisy and Caleb are doing great and now are both going to Japanese Kindergarten starting from last week. Hazel is doing very well and smiles, laughs, and squeals constantly.

A New Thing

Dear friends,
It is good to be writing you all again. In Isaiah 43:18-19,  it says “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” On January 1st of this year, God brought me to this verse and has brought me back to it many times afterwards. And through this year, what I have seen time and time again is that He works in ways that I am not going to expect, just as I don’t expect a way in the wilderness and a river in a desert. And as He is moving in these unexpected ways, I need to be laying down what he has done yesterday to see what he is doing today.

As many of you know, two years ago I began leading a bilingual Saturday night service here at Horizon. And this year, we as a fellowship started praying fervently for God to start a new work in the service. Then just over a month ago, the 21st century church, a church we have been working together with for some time now, came to us asking to start a new joint service between our two churches on Saturday nights over at their church in Central Tokyo. Now, because of the history of Japan, there is not honestly a lot of connectivity between different churches. And the idea of two different churches working together, sharing a fellowship is, to my understanding, a historic idea. At first I struggled with it, asking God why our fellowship couldn't just stay as it was. But as he worked in my heart, he kept me bringing me back to the same thought, “You prayed for a new movement, Alex. And this is new. Unexpected for you maybe, but I am moving. Follow me.” And so we as a church started fellowshipping with the 21st century church on Saturdays a month ago. The fellowship time there has been refreshing and it has opened doors to people we would have never talked to before. Also, because of our involvement there, the doors are opening to other areas in Central Tokyo to reach out. They have come to us asking to do a children’s program there once a month as well and I have been asked to head it up. Please pray that God would continue to use this new service to open up new doors in central Tokyo for us to minister and reach new people. And though it is a very specific request, pray that God would open doors for me to be a part of the translation ministry there.

Doors also started opening up to our neighbors. We moved into our new house last October in a new area about 20 minutes drive from Machida. Before we moved, I remember we were sad to say goodbye to our old neighbors that we had been sharing with and ministering to. It had taken a long to build these relationships. But interestingly, as soon as we got into the new neighborhood,   it felt like God is drawing people to us. The man next door to us loves trying out his English on me and we often get to talk. The neighborhood kids seem drawn to us also. As we played in the yard, some of our next door neighbors kids had been watching us from the windows. So we invited them out to play with us. Then some other kids from across the street that we say “hi” to every morning came right up and rung our doorbell the other day and asked if we could play with them. They ended up hanging out at our house for a quite some time. There are international families that have been walking by and have invited us to their house. Lots of opportunities which are usually so rare in Tokyo. Pray God would continue to use us in our community and show us how to minister to these people. 

God also has been doing some new things with the Sunday school here at Horizon. Recently I was invited to help out with the Setagaya Sunday school kids camp at the base of mount Fuji. One of the girls who comes to Sunday School invited 6 of her non christian friends to come. All the kids had a blast. I made the mistake of carrying one of them on my shoulders, and once they saw I could do it,  they took turns having me carry them everywhere. Most of them were in upper elementary school, and honestly usually Tokyo kids at that age start to get so serious and kind of hard to bring out of their shell. But they were all playing with us like they were little kids and listened so intently when we shared the bible with them. All of them said they want to come to the next camp. Over here in Machida Sunday school kids continue to bring their non christian friends. Though many of them were very wild kids when they first came to us, I have seen a lot of changes in their hearts. They have started to like singing and worshiping with us. They listen very well to the bible stories and remember so much of what we have taught them and the memory verses as well. They always ask for our prayers for many things. It is beautiful to see. Pray God would continue to use the Sunday school to minister to church kids and their friends as well as continue to work through events like the Sunday School Easter outreach seen here. Also pleas pray for our Sunday School BBQ this Saturday and it looks like 55 people are coming including some from our Shine English Language school. Pray God would use it to minister to the kids and their parents. 

As for the Shine English Language school, God is continuing to bless it and open doors through it. The Language school in Machida has around 36 students and the Setagaya school has around 24 students now. God continues to give sharing opportunities in the class conversation time, but it seems recently to take longer to build relationships and trust in the school. Harder to get people to come to events at church. We will of course keep making opportunities, times,  and places for people to come, but pray that God would open up hearts at the school. And pray for leading as we plan out events at the Setagaya English school. 

And lastly, the newest work that God has done for us is adding to our family. Our daughter, Hazel Annora Robinson was born on April 20, weighing 8.5 pounds and measuring at 21.3 inches. Her big brother and sister are crazy about her, always running to check on her if she cries. Please pray for this new season of our family life as well. 

We thank you all for your prayers and support. We are praying for you all and love you.

Grace and Peace,

Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, Caleb, and Hazel Robinson

Here we come!

Hello Friends,
Well, the cold of the Tokyo winter is just starting to melt away and we are beginning to feel the first warm breezes of spring.  And as we are heading into a new season, it is a blessing to stop and reflect on God's faithfulness this last winter.

Last time I wrote you all I told you about the new Bilingual fellowship "ALIVE" that we had started up on Saturdays. I want to thank you so much for your prayers. We have now reached the half year mark since we started the service and it has been a very blessed time. Last year we started the service studying in the book of James. By God's grace, we have finished James and and we are about to finish the book of Jonah. We have recently made a blog for this service and have started to post the messages from the service as well. Please give it a look when you have the time.

Also thank you for praying for the fellowship time for this service. It has been a amazing time for us and I look forward to it every week. It has been great to hear some of the conversations that have been going on in the fellowship and to see new friendships made with members of the different services. Pray that God would continue his work of unity in the service.  Also please pray for the next
steps of this service. Now that we have started the service, we want it to more and more become a welcoming space for Non christians who are wanting to study English as well. And while we have had a couple of my English students attend the service since we started, please pray for wisdom in inviting people and ways to open doors to minister to those we are teaching English too through the ALIVE service. Also please continue to pray for our translators and worship leader as they grow in their service.

God has also opened a new door for the ministry here at Tokyo Horizon Chapel. A pastor from central Tokyo has recently opened up his church for us to use on Sunday nights in the city of Hiroo. This new service will  be the start of a new church campus for us. It will be the fifth service we have on Sunday between our two main campuses. It is also been decided that it will be a bilingual service and I have been given the opportunity to act in a supporting role in the service and give the teaching when Pastor Hirano is not able to. There are many foreigners in the area as well as Japanese interested in international culture. So please pray that God would use this new church plant to minister to the people of central Tokyo and many would come to know Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers for Shine Kids and the Shine English program. The Shine Kids in Setagaya is continuing to grow. So much so that we had to start a new class on that day, which brings Thursdays to 3 classes of 12. Our Classes in Machida remain steady and more and more, the children have been coming to the church events that we have been putting on. Another blessing happened recently with the graduating children. For many years, we have had the problem of Children who aged out of Shine Kids. We would then loose contact with them soon after making the window for ministering to them very short. Some in the past entered the Shine English language school, but most didn't. This year as kids are graduating in April, for the first time our whole advanced class that would have been finishing Shine Kids is going to be joining the Shine English Language school. Not one of them will be leaving. We praise God for the continued opportunity to serve them and their families. Please pray that God would continue to use us to speak into their lives and hearts.

Last but not least, as you all know, we are gearing up for our trip to Sonora at the end of this month. We will be bringing our team of 12 from our church to homestay with CC Sonora Families. All of the team, especially the kids we will be bringing, are all very excited. Being as the church body in Japan is so small, you don't know what an encouragement it is for the Japanese Christians to spend time with their extended family overseas and see that God is at work all over the world. I want to thank you all personally for the opportunity. There has never been a time back in Sonora that I have not come away encouraged and rekindled for the work here in Japan. I pray the same for this team on this trip.

I can't wait to see you all soon.

Much Love,
Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, and Caleb Robinson

P.S. Daisy and Caleb are doing great. Daisy is going to be entering kindergarten next month and Caleb is running around like crazy and toting around his toy guitar wherever he goes. And as is obvious by the picture, they both love to sing.

ALIVE comes alive!

Dear friends,
It is good to be writing you all again. A lot has been happening since the last time that I wrote to you after the EPIC team left that I would like to share with you all.

The biggest thing I wanted to share about was ALIVE. Thank you all for praying for the new bilingual service that we were about to start the last time that I wrote to you. By the grace of God, we were able to start this new service from the first saturday of September. At Horizon we have many different services that meet at different times throughout the week. In this way, Horizon is able to minister to many different types of people. We are able to serve English speakers and Internationals, Japanese people, and we even have a Filipino service that during the week. However, because they all meet at separate times and are in separate languages,  there is very little crossover between the services. So we started Alive, a completely bilingual service where many different kinds of people can meet in one place and one time, and through exposure and interaction with many kinds of christians, can grow and learn. Also because we are a bilingual service, we are able to reach out to to unsaved Japanese people that are trying to learn English.

As this service has been forming, God has blessed us with many different amazing servants who have come alongside me as we have been starting out in this new direction. My friend Fumitaka has blessed us by taking on the role of worship leader for this service. And God has brought together an awesome worship team (seen practicing here) that come from many different services and even different church campuses at Horizon.

From the beginning, one of the biggest issues we had in starting this new service and our biggest
prayer request was finding translators. Without them, we would not be able to have this kind of service. But God is good. And He brought together a team of translators from some of the most unlikely places. As of now, we are blessed to have 8 translators on weekly rotation for this service. As for me, I have been blessed with being able to share from the Word weekly at the ALIVE service. We have been working our way through the book of James, and are starting chapter 4 this week.

As for our fellowship time, we have been trying to mix it up a bit. Of course we have coffee time on the first floor of our church two weeks out of the month. But also once a month we all go out to eat together and one Saturday of each month we have been having some sort of activity night. Last Saturday we all went out to Karaoke and are planning out different activities for the future. Please pray for this new fellowship that it would be used as a blessing in the church as well as a tool to reach outside of the church.

Thank you also for praying for the Shine kids program. Machida Shine kids continues to be blessed with more students. We are up to eight students per class for our beginners and advanced classes. Setagaya continues to have around 25 kids a week coming to learn English. Our adult English school continues to be blessed with new students as well as time goes on. Last Saturday we had another pancake breakfast and it was really a blessed time, with people coming not only from our English classes, but outside as well. Even some people from the hair salon my
wife goes to came as well. Please pray that God would continue to expand these ministries and used them to build relationships. Also please pray that those studying English would come to the Alive service and hear the Word of God.

Coming up in november is our Horizon Cafe, a little fall festival that we put on to reach out to the people that live around the church. Please pray that many would come into the church and for blessed conversations.  Also keep us in prayer as we head into the Christmas season and all the outreaches that are to come. Pray for our wisdom and for God to work through Horizon to minister to the people of Machida.

I think that is it for now. Thank you all for your ongoing prayers and support. You are in our prayers.

Because He lives,
Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, and Caleb Robinson

P.S. Daisy and Caleb are doing great. Caleb as always, rarely stops smiling and is starting to speak some Japanese and English words. Daisy never stops talking all day long and will be starting Kindergarten from next year (they start early here). We have a interview coming up for her Kindergarten, so please pray that it goes well.

Epic Team and Something New

Hi Everyone,
It is good to be writing you all again.

I wanted to start out by thanking you all for sending us the EPIC team last month. Their time hear was a huge blessing to us. From start to finish, this was one of the best teams that I have ever had the privilege of working.  I remember setting up decorations for the VBS program on their first day here, and even though they should have been jet-lagged and out of it, they were ready to go for everything that I had for them to do. Honestly, they were like that for the whole trip, always ready to go, ready to jump on every opportunity that was given to them.

The next day was the VBS. It was a great
program. This year we were able to have the VBS in two locations, our Machida and Setagaya branch, simultaneously. It was something that we had never tried before, but by the grace of God it went really well. Last year we had struggled to get kids to come, but this year God blessed the sign ups at both locations. All of the kids involved had a great time and all the staff were blessed to be involved. Please keep praying for the doors that have been opened through the VBS to be used by God to reach to the local kids and their parents.

That night (like the day hadn't been long enough already), we had a concert with the members of our church as well as the Epic worship team with a message by Justin. Though the whole team was exhausted by that point, they always were smiling and so enthusiastic. They were a huge encouragement to all involved that night and I was able to see such joy on the faces of the Japanese members. The spirit moved and God spoke powerfully through Justin as well that night. It was honestly one of the most powerful worship concerts I have experienced at Horizon.

The next day the team split again to help in the church sunday schools at both Setagaya and Machida,  helping out at both the Japanese and English Services. That night, they were able to home stay with members of the church in addition to Shine Kids families who are not christian. In the Japanese culture, being invited to someone's house is a very big deal. Honestly it does not happen much. But God made a way and the team was able to go and minister in the homes of people where even I have never been allowed in. It was huge. And I am so grateful to the team for coming and being used by God to minister in ways that I have not been able to. Pray that God would bless the seeds they have planted in these difficult to reach places, in the homes that they stayed in.

The next day we were off to the Tohoku region where we volunteered helping out fisherman whose businesses are still struggling after the tsunami. The people who have been working with these men and women have often had difficulty sharing with them. They have been reluctant to hear the gospel and even to be prayed for. But God brought a lot of those walls down, and members of the team were able to share their faith and to pray for the fishermen that were there. Many seeds were planted and we were blessed to see God doing the impossible things through the team.

Then a few quick sightseeing days after that it was sunday again. And before I knew it I was seeing them off in front of the security at the airport. It just went by so quick and I really didn't want to let them go, but I am grateful for them and to all that made their trip to Japan possible. I was so blessed to have been able to work with the EPIC team and hope they will return to us soon.  

Soon after they left, we were back into the swing of things and we had our Shine pancake breakfast again for all of our English students. It was a great time of conversation and food. We were also blessed to meet some Dads of our Shine kids that we have not had the opportunity to meet and talk with before. Please pray for these mornings and for other activities to do with our English students.

Finally, I have one last prayer request. Since I arrived in Japan, I have been attending the Japanese Saturday night worship service. The teaching and fellowship there have always been a blessing to me. Recently, the pastors have decided that they are going to be changing the service to a bilingual format and they have asked me to lead the service. We are going to be starting this new fellowship from next month. Please pray for the planning and blessed preparation for us as we are getting ready for this big change. Pray that this new service would be used to minister to people and that more and more people would come. We will be calling this new fellowship "Alive".

Thank you all for you prayers and support. We remember you in our prayers and look forward to when we can see you all again. 

Because He lives,
Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, and Caleb Robinson

P.S. Daisy and Caleb are doing great and growing up fast. Daisy is talking up a storm in English and
Japanese and Caleb is standing up (holding on to things) and is starting to stand up on his own.

Fall Fun and Christmas Events

Hi Everyone,
I hope you all had a great Christmas season and a very happy new year. The time here has been a lot of fun.

We finished up our Fall semester of Shine Kids on the 8th of December. This semester marked our tenth semester since we restarted Shine Kids after after I returned from Okinawa. And we were blessed to have all our old students with us this semester plus a few new faces. Above we see the kids learning their new song for this semester which they would perform at the Horizon Cafe and Bazaar the week after this picture was taken. All the kids had a great time this Semester and are looking forward to the winter semester of Shine Kids starting on the 19th of this month. Please pray that God would open up hearts more and more through this program and especially that the relationships we build through the program would lead to a deeper and deeper connection to God and his people.

Thank you for praying for the Shine English Language School as well. We have been blessed to have 24 students regularly attending classes on a weekly or bi weekly basis during this fall and winter season. God has been blessing the ministry so much that we thought it would be good make special events and times to get together with all of our students from this ministry and bless them by cooking a meal for them all. We keep it very casual and have the students come whenever they like between our starting and ending time, eat as much as they like, and leave whenever they want. We then started inviting members our church to help out with the cooking and serving as well as having some come just as guests to hang out and talk with our students. All of our students really like the events and we see this as a new opportunity to get people from our community to hang out with people in the church in a casual setting. The conversations I have overheard and taken part in during these event are awesome and God is at work in it. Seen here are pictures from our last Pancake Breakfast we had last month. Please pray for us as we continue this new form of outreach.

In addition, we were able to have our Horizon picnic during this fall as well. We invited the Japanese and English services from both Setagaya and Machida as well as the Shine Kids to come and have a picnic with games and even a pinata that I scraped together myself. It was a great time of
fellowship and even though we were unable to get the Shine Kids Members to come out with us this time, we are going to continue to do outdoor events this coming year. Lord willing, the more of these events we do, the more our Shine Kids and Shine ELS students will come out to join us and hang out with members of the church. Please pray for us as we plan for having new sporting events this year and other activities to get everyone together.

This Christmas season was also a blast with many opportunities. We started off the month with our Kids Christmas parties in both Machida and Setagaya with games , cake, crafts, and of course the Christmas message. Here you see the kids making their craft. We were blessed to have a lot of helpers from our college group. We also had our annual Christmas program and Candle Light Christmas eve service. Like last year we were able to hit the streets of Machida before the event to hand out flyers. We also went around asking people what they think about Christmas and what Christmas means to them, and sharing about what it really means. It was a blessed time and blessed events, and in everything we got to share the hope to be found in Christmas.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at the end of March of this year when our family comes back to visit Sonora and we look forward to having the Epic Japan Team this Summer. We are praying that you would have a very blessed new year.

Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, and Caleb Robinson

P.S. Our son, Caleb Alexander Robinson was born on September 9, 2015. He is a very happy baby and smiles a lot. Please pray for his blessing and our wisdom as we start out life as a family of four.

VBS 2015!!!

Hello Everyone,
I want to say sorry ahead of time as this blog is going to be a little picture heavy.

Soon after my last blog, the team from Anaheim arrived in Tokyo.
The first full day that they were here, they worked alongside Daniel and I and the rest of the Japanese members to finish decorating the church for the VBS the following day.

It was a blast to see the Japanese members and the Anaheim team working together to get everything done. Everyone really jumped in and when everything was said and done, the place looked great.

Then, the next day, the VBS began. Thank you for your prayers as many kids came to the event. We all met together in the beginning of the program, learn some English, sang some song, did a little skit (seen on the top left) and then split up into groups for the different activities.

We had a really amazing message time prepared by our friends Daichi, Hayato and Nobu. As the theme for this year's VBS was science, they used science experiments to help illustrate their messages. The first day they taught about the wind and how powerful it is even though you don't see it. The did a experiment showing the use of fans to balance over a tightrope and told the kids about how powerful God is even though we cannot see Him. The Second day they showed how Jesus makes us clean, using an experiment with liquids that change color. The kids loved it!

We also had a lot of fun making crafts prepared by Chikami, one of the Sunday school teachers here at the church. On the first day we made ice cream in a bag by shaking it like crazy. The second day we made a kaleidoscope. The kids had a great time writing their names with the stickers.

The kids had a great time with the game time and experiment time as well that the Anaheim team lead. The had fun with the wheel momentum experiments, the team explaining again that it was a force that you could not see, but could feel and moved you.

Over all, it was a great VBS. I was blessed to see all the Shine kids there just experiencing God's love through the Japanese and American Christian leaders at the event. I know that there were seeds planted and we will continue to pray that those seeds will grow and blossom in the years to come. It was a very encouraging time for me as well, to see everything that we have been preparing for be blessed by God is such a big way. I look forward to all that God is going to do through this year's VBS. And can't wait to see what God will do through next year's team as well (wink wink EPIC! Lord willing.) Please be praying as we continue to minister to the kids and families in the wake of the VBS.

The next week, the Anaheim team, along with Daniel and myself, repainted the Sunday school room which was in bad need some repairs and a new coat of paint. We worked all morning on it and got it done in time to do a little sightseeing.

The next day was the day of our three day Horizon Family Camp. The Anaheim team lead the kids program for the three day, while I translated along side them. I was even given the opportunity to share at one of the devotional times which was a real privilege. It was a great time of fellowship as well, staying up late, hanging out with the Anaheim team and the Japanese college kids.

On the day we got back from the camp, I bid farewell to the Anaheim team as they would be flying
out the next day. We will miss them and hope that they come back soon. They were a huge encouragement and a blessing to spend time with

We spent the weekend with Daniel and even got to introduce him to Tomoko's family as they were all getting together that Saturday. He talked computers with my programmer brother-in-law and spoke English with my other brother-in-law who is studying it in college and they enjoyed their time with him very much.

Then, this last Monday morning, we said goodbye to our friend Daniel Britt as he caught the 7:00 bus to Narita Airport. He spent four weeks with us and hung in their through a bit of a crazy schedule. We were blessed to have him serve with us in all the different events and are thankful for his willingness to jump into a lot of different roles while he was here. The college students and kids he taught will miss him, not to mention my little girl Daisy who is crazy about her Uncle Daniel.
Thank you for sending him to us.

Well, I think that is all for now. Please be praying for us as the doctors say that our little boy could be born at any time now.  Thank you always for you prayer and support. We love you and are praying for you guys.

Alex, Tomoko, Daisy, and Baby Robinson