Surprises and Redirection

Dear friends,
It has been almost a month now since my wife and I left you all to return to Japan. My wife and I were so very grateful for the time that we spent in California. It was a huge encouragement for the both of us, so much so that I find it difficult to put in words. When we originally were making our plans to go to the United States, my wife had been a bit worried about meeting so many new people and even feeling out of place. But you all were so kind to my wife and I. Though it had been a long time since I had last visited the church and though it was your first time meeting her, you took us both in with open arms, treated us both like family, and just shared the love of Jesus with us. The fellowship that we had with you all was a beautiful thing and it left us both grateful to God for His mercy and grace. I think for both of us, our time in the States was a mountain top experience of God building us up and leaving us in wonder.

However, as so often is the case when we have these mountain top experiences, eventually we have to come back down from the mountain... and at the bottom waits, well... battle. Upon returning to Japan, we were greeted with the news that the students who had signed up for the preschool that we had talked with you all about had all pulled out last minute. There were no students for the preschool, which meant we could not start this school year.

For me, this was like a splash of cold water in the face. I really didn't know what to do. The door was closed.... And it left me with a lot of questions about what God wanted me to do now.

But it can be amazing how God can use our wives to speak to us. Upon hearing the news, I was very discouraged. Honestly my heart sank in my chest. But I looked over at my wife, and she was smiling a really excited smile. When I asked her why she was smiling, she said to me that God was going to be starting something new very soon. I puzzled as I thought about the words she spoke to me, and then I started to smile too.

It brings to mind the apostle Paul as he made his missions trips. So often, he would have a passion for preaching the word, and he would want go into regions he hadn't been before and sometimes God would stop him. I think about Acts 16 were Paul had been traveling around with his companions preaching the gospel and wanted to go into Asia, but the Holy Spirit would not let them go. They tried multiple times, but it says that "the spirit of Jesus would not allow them to". Why? Was is because they were trying to do something wrong? No. And further down the road, God would take the gospel into that region. But at that time, God had a different work that he wanted to start. Paul went here and there for a while, and then finally, God gave him the vision of the man from Macedonia. So Paul goes down to macedonia and starts to minister there and God starts a amazing work there. The time that Paul wanted to go into Asia was the time that God wanted to start a work in Macedonia, starting the church at Philippi.

I really don't know what God wants to do right now in the ministry here. But I don't think the preschool did not start because it was a bad thing. And there may yet be a time when God will want the preschool to begin here. But all I know is that time is not now.

So for now, I want to faithfully tend to the ministries that God has given me. I have been praying and thinking about what to be done now, and I think God is leading in the direction of expanding some of the ministries that are underway. One ministry that needs growth is Shine Kids. We have been holding the shine kids every Tuesday and currently we have about 11 to 13 kids coming regularly. Though I love this ministry, the preparation for the preschool kind of made me move it to the back burner. But now I feel leading to grow this ministry. We start classes from next week. And in addition to the Tuesday class, we will be starting a Friday class as well. Please pray for this ministry, That it would grow and that God would use it.

Also, the Kids Brown program in Setagaya will be expanding as well. I have been assisting in the class on Thursdays, but we will be starting another class on Saturday that I will be leading. It will mix the Kids Brown curriculum with the shine kids games, crafts, and songs.  Lord willing, after a time of building reputation among the community, perhaps we will be able to begin the preschool in a years time.

We thank you so much for your prayers for us. We can feel God leading and are so grateful for your support in reaching the people of Japan.

Because He lives,
Alex and Tomoko Robinson