Japan Newsletter, May 16, 2012

Dear Friends, May God's blessings be yours wherever this letter may find you. Thank you for your patience in waiting for me to write. As I am writing you now, I have just finished my third semester in bible college at CCBC Tokyo. It was a great semester. It was a very full and difficult semester for me, but God used it in mighty ways. This semester, one of the opportunities that I was given was to serve at We go Eigo Fuchu. This is a christian children's day care center that is currently operating out of Calvary Chapel Fuchu. For me, it was a real blessing to work there. It is a all English school, teaching English to children through a immersion process. All the children there are no allowed to speak Japanese and through necessity learn to speak English. Also, as it is a christian based school, we are allowed to teach about Jesus in the school and pray with the children as well. For me, it was always encouraging to see the people that work there just loving on the kids, telling them about Jesus, praying with them and letting the kids pray as well. Also, every Friday night, they have a special program at night when they went through the basic explanations of Christianity, and for this night, some of the parents of the kids would come and learn English through the bilingual translation as Pastor Rich shared about subjects like sin, salvation, Jesus, the holy spirit, and other christian fundamentals. Often these discussions would bring many questions to the minds of the people there and there where many opportunities to explain and share. They were really good times for me and I was grateful to be able to be a part of the school during my time at CCBC Tokyo. Please lift up We go Eigo Fuchu in your prayers, that their ministry would continue to be blessed and lead by His hand. Another huge opportunity for my personal growth came in the form of the IBS class held at the bible college this semester. IBS stands for Inductive Bible Study and is a class that teaches the fundamentals of leading a bible study, and giving a devotion or message. There were about 12 students in the class and each of them, including me, was given opportunity to share three messages during the course of the semester. However, because we are a bilingual school, every message had to have either a English or Japanese translation based on which language it was given. However, at the campus in Tokyo, because the resident translator was often at work during the time of the class, the bulk of the translation fell on two of the students who had the ability to do so. I was one of the two. Honestly, it was a very difficult time for me. At times I would be translating 3 to four messages a week. Sometimes even three on the same day. This lead to a lot of nights of getting 2 to 3 hours of sleep, as well as a drop in many of my grades. In the end I even had to drop one of my classes in order to be able to finish the semester. For me, this was extremely difficult. Good grades have always been very important to me, and not being able to achieve them was a huge blow to my pride. There was a lot of times that I felt like I had failed as a student. But God convicted me about it. He reminded me that the reason I was at the bible college was not to get good grades. Even though He wanted me to study and work hard and give it my all, my goal was to serve Him and to develop as a more effective tool for Him to use in this country. Thinking in this way, everything just clicked and I understood what God had been doing in giving me the opportunity to translate these messages. He had been using them to expand my abilities in Japanese and to develop me in my ability to preach in Japanese. By God's grace, the translation and preparation got easier and easier for me, and in the end I was able to give my own teaching in Japanese for the final exam message. God used the difficulty, the late nights, and all the complications that came from translation as a way to grow me and refine me for my service here and for that I am so grateful to him. "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing the tribulations worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope. And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost that is given to us." Romans 5:3-5 Another blessed opportunity was the ability to travel up to the Tohoku region (the region of the earthquake, tsunami, and radioactive trouble) for relief work. The first trip I went on was with some of the pastors and leaders from our local area. The focus on that trip was to spread the word about the Franklin Graham Revival Concert that would be held in the Tohoku region the week after we went. For those of you who don't know Franklin Graham, he is Billy Graham's son. Through his organization, he goes to many different countries, working with local churches to put on Evangelistic concerts. If you want to read more about it, his website is http://www.grahamfestival.org/. The process they go through to put on one of these festivals is very amazing and worth reading about if you have the time. We went from temporary housing locations to temporary housing locations, doing dinner outreaches and small concerts, promoting the event. It was good time talking with the people from the temporary housing. Many of the people from the temporary housing were fishermen from the local area who were trying to get back on there feet. Many signed up for the event and from what I hear, in the end thousands came to the event and many came up for the alter call and were saved. To God be the glory ^_^. During the second trip to Tohoku, we were blessed to have a team from Calvary Chapel San Diego, Pastor Rich Chang's home church, come with us and serve at Crash Japan. I believe I mentioned Crash Japan to you all before as it is a Christian Relief Organization Based out of Japan. Up to this point I had never worked with them before. But it was a really amazing time. Apparently, Crash is divided up into multiple divisions, offering different services to cater to the different needs of the survivors. I was able to take part in the 心のケア division of the organization. 心のケア is roughly translated "heart care". It is the division of Crash the ministers to survivors emotionally. Many of the survivors here suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. However, there are not many services offered by the Japanese Government for counseling as all money is being poured into physical relief. The 心のケア division specializes in ministering to these people and getting them the help they need as well as comforting the survivors. The area that we worked in was in Fukushima (a name that might be familiar to you all through the news). It is the sight of the unstable nuclear reactor. Many of the temporary housing locations that we went to on this trip were filled with people, especially the elderly, that were forced from there homes by the threat of radiation. Many that we talked to had been told that they could not return to there homes for thirty years, which for many of the elderly was longer than they have left to live. Many are just sitting in their temporary housing, rarely going out, unsure of the next step. It was to these people that we ministered. We were trained in giving hand massages as a way of connecting with the people. We would go door to door, offering things they needed, hand massages, and conversation. Many closed the door in our faces. Unfortunately, there have been many false religions going through the temporary housing, taking advantage and swindling those that live there. (Please pray against the evil workings of these false religions there.) However, some would invite us in and we would talk, sometimes for hours, sharing our stories with one another. Please pray for the seeds that are being planted there to grow. Another amazing thing for me personally was that it was the first time for me to be a main translator for a missions team. Before, there had always been a bilingual Japanese person that would come with us, making it so I only had to translate for myself. But this time, aside from my friend Kevin, I was in the role as interpreter for the group. Going into it, I had my doubts. But God really poured out his Holy Spirit on my during that trip, enabling to speak in ways that I never have before. I was shocked but very thankful that God can use even meager language skills like mine and multiply them for His glory. So now that the semester is over, I am gearing up for my summer schedule. I have been asked by pastor Rich and Zach to teach several times at the two separate locations on multiple occasions this summer. Also I am making plans to start up the Shine Kids program again from this summer at Horizon, which I was not able to do during the semester. In addition, I am making the final preparations for my wedding to my lovely fiance Tomoko which will be on July 7 ^_^. Please pray for all these thing and tat God would be leading them. We were also planning to visit you all during July as well. However, due to the price of tickets and some closed doors in scheduling, we have had to move the trip back a bit and are planning to come and visit you all in December of this year. I can't wait to see you all then. I pray for your peace and that you would know the rest that comes in abiding in the grace of Jesus. Because He lives and loves, Alex