Christmas Greetings

Dear Friends,
Merry Christmas to you all! May we all count ourselves blessed during this season as we remember that God himself, in love, set aside His glory and chose to live among us that we might experience the light of life. I miss you all and think about you often, especially during this time of year. I want to thank all of you who have reached out recently to us as it has been a huge encouragement to me and my family. I was also very excited to hear about plans to bring a team from Calvary Chapel Sonora to work alongside us here next October! I can't wait to receive all of you who are able to come and to minister with us here! Your help is very needed and deeply appreciated!

We are still in the full rush of the Christmas season. In Japan, Christmas is an extremely popular holiday, though the meaning is unknown. And a lot of opportunities have been afforded to us to share and reach out. As I write you, I am preparing for Funky Friday Nights kids program this Saturday at the Myanmar church in central Tokyo(which looks to have about 40~50 children in attendance) and also the Horizon Christmas Program/Outreach that is coming up on Sunday. Please pray for both of these events. 

We kicked off on the first of December with our Sunday School Christmas. I want to thank

you for continuing to pray for God to open hearts here, because the response for this year was bigger than ever before. Because of VBS this summer, word spread through many of the mothers in the Shine program and also at Daisy and Caleb's Kindergarten. Also church members invited their non christian family and we ended up having 46 children come to the event. More than came to Machida VBS this summer. We are praying of about making the event as big as our VBS program next year.  

Thank you all for praying about the Funky Friday Night College Group. Taking leadership of this group has been a very stretching experience for me. In all honesty it has revealed more areas where I need repent and grow than I care to count. But God has been faithful in walking me through the process. As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16 "we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." I am starting to understand that verse better and better. And God, in his mercy, has been blessing the ministry. We continue our study through Hebrews and have just started working through chapter 11. The conversations have been very good and have been getting deeper as time goes on. We also have kept up having a dinner night with guest Testimony every month. Last month we had a big Thanksgiving dinner night with both the Funky Friday Night and the old Alive members and had 42 people come. And a week ago, we had a street ministry night with the international members that was awesome. In addition, last summer we were visited by Second Level Ministry, a group who is doing ministry to Japanese exchange students in Atlanta. And in the mysterious way that God works, we are now in planning with them for their mission trip next year as they are seeking to connect the students they have ministered to in the past with our church. So please pray for the group as we are going into this new season. Please pray for some of our members who are just starting out their walk with Jesus and some who are still seeking who have been visiting us frequently.

As for the Shine English Language School, we continue in patient ministry to our 37 students in Machida and our 23 students in Setagaya. We are starting to see some changes as some of our adult students recently visited Sunday Service for the first time, but it is still one small step at a time. Please pray for a patient and unselfish heart for us as we love on them and serve them. 

Thank you also for your prayers about my new role teaching at the Horizon Bible College (HBC).  This semester went very well and even though everything was all in English, I think the class was a powerful time for the students and myself as well. I am now preparing for my class next semester on the book of Ezra which will be a 7 week course.

Lastly, please pray for my wife and family. More and more, my wife Tomoko has been given opportunities to minister to the mothers at our kids kindergarten. They have come over to our house multiple times and are always full of questions about our faith. They even came to the international service a few weeks back. She also is continuing on with her mother's group here at the church and God has been blessing the time powerfully. 

We thank you very much for all your prayers and support! We love you all and can't wait to welcome all who come with the team next October!

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

P.S. The kids are doing great. Daisy and Caleb love their school and though we were a bit worried at first, Caleb is taking to his all Japanese school like a fish to water. Hazel is a very happy girl, and though she is not crawling yet, she has been dragging herself around the house at quite a fast pace.

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