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