So good to be writing you this chilly december. I have finally returned to Tokyo from my studies in Okinawa. The semester ended well, though it got a little crazy towards the end with all the reports and finals, especially the ones I had to take in Japanese. But God is good, and his grace is abundant. Some how I finally made it to the end and left the day after the semester ended. Though I don't know what God has planned for me in the future, as I am going to begin my study in CCBC Tokyo, it is possible that it will be the last time I will ever see Okinawa. My time serving there was so very different from anything than I had ever experienced before. There were so many difficulties and so many times of failure. But God used my time there to really work on my heart. He used my failures to bring me deeper into a humbleness before Him and a submission to his service. He broke me of a lot of my pride that I really didn't even know that I had. Also He built me up in my prayer life and devotion time, especially during this last semester. There were so many things to think about and so much that I had been worrying about during this semester. I had worried about my future ministry, about my language abilities, and about people here in Tokyo that I was powerless to help while still in Okinawa. But God really spoke to me about lifting my concerns, worries, fears, and everything up in prayer. And to do it consistently.
It was so interesting. I remember at the last Men's retreat that I was able to attend in America, elder Paul from CC Sonora made the practical suggestion of writing a prayer list on a 3x5 card and praying through it every day during our devotions. A few months ago, I was flipping through a book and a 3x5 card fell out of it and onto the floor. As I was picking it up, suddenly all that Paul said that day came to my mind. So from that day I wrote out a prayer list on a 3x5 and have been praying through it in my daily devotion time ever since. And it has left me amazed how much daily consistent prayer changes life and ministry. That prayer list soon turned into a praise report card as God consistently answered every issue I was praying over in His way and for His glory. God is faithful, and prayer should be at the heart of our ministry.
There was something that Pastor Tommy said to me in Okinawa that really stuck in my head. He said that ministry is not about method. God shapes the man and then He shapes the ministry. It made a lot of sense to me. And even though He has a lot more shaping to do in me, I think he has been shaping me for the ministry that he will have for me in the future. I am so grateful for all that he has been doing in me and look forward to the things He is planning for me. He even blessed me in giving a huge part of my future to me during my stay here in Tokyo.
As I have written about before, I have been dating with a amazing woman of faith named Tomoko Aoki. She is a member of the Tokyo Horizon Chapel congregation and I have been friends with her for over two years now. We started dating at the beginning of this semester and communicated mostly through writing to one another during my time in Okinawa. It was a blessed time for both of us and God brought us closer to Him and closer together through those writings. By the end of the semester, God was speaking to me about her to me strongly though my devotions, times of prayer, and even words of prophecy given by members of the CC Okinawa Fellowship. He convicted me about her and gave me great peace for what He lead me to do upon my return to Tokyo. On the evening of December 15, I asked her to be my wife... And she said yes ^_^. We are engaged and hope, Lord willing, to be married December of next year, after I graduate bible college. Thank you all for you support and prayers about this. God willing, she will be able to accompany me on my next visit to America this summer and you all can meet her ^_^. Please pray that God would continue to guide us is this next step in our relationship together and that God would use us for His purpose as He has already begun to do.
Thank you for your prayers about meeting with Tomoko's coworkers. Since I have come to Tokyo, I have already been able to hang out with them on two different evenings with more times together planned. The times we have spent together have been blessed and they have been very accepting of Tomoko and my beliefs and we have been able to share a bit with them in our times together. Please continue to pray about our times together with Tomoko's coworkers as we build relationships with them and minister to them. Please pray for wisdom for Tomoko while she is working with these people and please pray for wisdom for me as I try to support my future wife in being salt and light in her workplace.
There is also another praise report which I have already referenced in the last post that happened last week in the Gospel Cafe. For those of you who aren't familiar, the Gospel Cafe is a cafe owned by members of the church here at Horizon and is both a functioning cafe and a outreach point to the community. I have been able to help out a couple times at the cafe since I have returned much in the same way I helped out before I left for Okinawa; waiting tables and talking with people. Last wednesday I was given the opportunity to speak with a younger man by the name of Kazu Yoshikawa. I had met him before at the cafe, but had not had the opportunity to speak much with him. Soon our conversation turned to Jesus and I was able to share with him. Through our conversation, God drew Kazu to himself and He accepted Jesus as his Savior. I have started meeting with him weekly to disciple him during my time here. We met together on Monday and it was a blessed time of questions and sharing. Please pray for Kazu, that he would grow in his new found faith and be protected from the attacks of the enemy. Also pray for my wisdom in the situation and for a special blessing for my Japanese as God disciples him through me.
I have more to tell, but I will have to save it for next time. I love you all. May you be blessed as God shapes you and shapes your ministry around you.
Much love in Him,