Friday, June 30, 2006

"Mr. Lee" speaks at Joy Bible Camp

"Joy Bible Camp" is held every June for English-speaking children including those from missionary, international, military base schools, home schools and some who are in Japanese schools. They meet at a SEND International camp and conference center outside of Tokyo. This year there were three separate camps, a short one for rising 3rd and 4th grade children, and longer ones for rising 4th-6th grade and 7th-8th grade youth. Stan was the camp speaker for the last two camps. In addition to the Bible teaching, the campers get to participate in games, swim in the pool, go rafting down the nearby river, have campfires and other normal "camp activites."
The theme this year was "The Greatest Victory" based on 1 Corinthians 15:57, But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Stan utilized practical illustrations, such as this one on trust and others that required the kids to eat with their weaker hand, and lead one another around blindfolded. He also asked the kids to ask him questions and he took time at each morning session to answer them. Some of the questions were "funny" but some of them were good thinking questions such as "How is it that Jesus' death saves us?"
Stan said that interacting with the youth was a good experience. Its been a few years since he taught High School Bible, and was good to be back with kids. A number of the pre-teens responded to invitations to commit themselves to living a consistent Christian life or to salvation. We look forward to seeing the results over time.

One young lady wrote this after the first week of camp:
Mr. Lee, Thanks for coming here to answer our questions, and to teach us about Jesus. I (we) really appreciate that. You might thing its a waste of time to teach kids, but they're the ones who have their whole lives ahead of them to teach the gospel message. Thanks, K

All the camp staff had knick names--and Stan's was Mr. Lee (as in Stan Lee or Stan Li depending on what country he is visiting).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Very Special Sunday--Part 2

As Stan served communion to Atsushi and the others who have been baptized since we started studying Acts, I was struck by the sight--here were young men, all serious about following after God. We are so humbled that the Lord would entrust these future church leaders to us at ICCS. God is already doing great things in and through these. One has a heart for evangelism and discipleship, another wants to participate in compassion ministries. This is so exciting!

In addition to last Sunday being Mappe's ordination, it was also a farewell to Mappe and his family as they will leave for about a year in the US. It was also covered dish Sunday (every third Sunday of the month--you're welcome to join us). People were given an opportunity to share words of encouragement with Mappe and his family.
When this young man came in and wanted to take the mike, most of us were wondering who he was. It turns out he's a young brother of one of our former members, who has talked a bit with Mappe about life, Christ, etc. Could we be looking at one of the next young men in our discipleship group? It will take prayer and faith--and our God is able!

A few months ago we asked for prayer for Lucy as she was born with a hole in her abdomen. After spending her first month in intensive care, and the next month at home, she made it to church for the first time with her folks on Sunday! A very, very special Sunday for this family as well as for our church family!

A Very Special Sunday at ICCS

This past Sunday at ICCS was a very full, very special day. Of course, it was Father's Day, and Stan spoke on the discipline of Fatherhood. The fathers were all asked to stand as we sang "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". This is only a few of the many fathers that were there--including one new father whose daughter was born less than two weeks before.
Our church ordained our Japanese coworker, Mappe, to the ministry of the Gospel that morning. Stan presented the Ordination Certificate along with a charge to Mappe to be faithful to the call of God. Then those who have been or are presently in church leadership at ICCS prayed a pray of commission and blessing for Mappe.

Atsushi, who had been befriended by Mappe a number of years ago, gave his testimony (the English translation was projected). Atsushi made a profession of faith this past year in Canada, but wasn't baptized there. When he got back a few weeks ago, he asked to be baptized at ICCS.
We were all able to witness Atsushi being baptized by Mappe.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

But I just want to buy a new sofa!

When we moved out of our old house nearly two years ago, our old love seat was tattered, torn, and I hoped would get taken to the dump. Instead, it was taken to storage and eventually ended up in our living room here at the apartment.

One of the desires we've had is to replace the love seat. Anna and I went furniture shopping a few months ago and nearly died of sticker shock when we saw fake leather couches that were incredibly uncomfortable for a minimum of 100,000 yen (just under $1,000).

Stan was told that an Ikea store had opened about 2 hours away from us, and on a "date" day, the two of us went out to look, fell in love with a three person sofa that a person can actually stretch out on for half the cost of the Japanese couches, bought it and returned with a receipt and hope that it would be delivered within the month... So we waited. Last week we got a phone call from the delivery company saying they would be at our apartment in 5 minutes with the couch. (So much for advance notice!)

They brought the sofa up to our apartment, got it to our door, rang the bell, and then tried to get it in... They managed to wedge it into line with the door in the entry way, but since it literally went to the ceiling, there was no room for it to tilt in the door. The width of the space from the hallway through the door is too narrow for the couch to be brought in at an angle. We live on the fourth floor, so to bring it in over the balcony would have required hiring a crane... Sadly, we had to send it back.

In order to get reimbursed for the sofa, we had to go back and do the paperwork in person, so I went back to the Ikea store four days later( again, nearly 2 hours away) only to be told that since it took about two weeks for the sofa to get back to the store, I couldn't get reimbursed yet. Then, I went up to the showroom to order the same comfy sofa in a two person version (I'm sure that this size can come through the door) only to be told that since its not in stock yet, I can't order it! BUT, they can put me on a call list when it comes in. Then I have to go back to the store and order it in person, then wait another two weeks at least until it can be delivered.

This leaves us sitting on the old uncomfortable love seat to watch the World Cup and wondering if we'll ever get a new sofa! With travel plans in the later summer, it may be wise not to head back to Ikea until the end of August...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Devote yourselves to prayer...

Sunday we were able to participate in a Global Day of Prayer. The international organization reported that Christians gathered in 189 nations to pray to the Lord. Stan has been a part of a group of people who have been praying that the Lord bring a revival in Japan. They decided to organize a time of prayer on Pentecost Sunday, and then discovered the Global Day of Prayer organization and linked up with them.
Here is Stan's report:
We met on the open roof of a local YMCA, in the city of Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo, Japan. The weather was overcast and though we were concerned about possible rain, we did not have time to put a tent over the main area. Gratefully, it held off until we were driving away that evening.
Prayer happened! God visited us in a powerful way. The 'program' started at 1:30 with a Black Gospel Concert featuring the voices of 8 Japanese Believers and two Filipino missionaries plus a Gospel recording artist from Los Angeles, CA, USA. Over 60 people gathered in front of the singers and the Lord met us!

We didn't know how many or who would come to the Prayer Day. I had posted maps of the countries of the world around the perimeter and made copies of prayer needs for each area. Following the singing, we divided into the groups and people started to pray for God to move in the nations! And they prayed!

We had the groups rotate from area to area and had an extended time of prayer. We then sang in English and Japanese using a Bilingual song book. The group was led in a public confession of our sins and of the sins of the country of Japan. We sang some more and then prayed for the Islands of Japan. We faced Tokyo and cried out to the Lord for His salvation to fall on the Emperor and his family, as well as other government officials.
We sang closing songs and ended in a Blessing.

We loved it and want to do this more often. As the result of the gathering, the organizing prayer group is determined to continue the work of prayer. Two of the former leaders (missionaries) are leaving Japan for Home assignment and two Japanese young men have been asked to fill their shoes. Both said yes!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

THIS is why we're here!

Last Sunday we had baptisms at the International Community Chapel of Saitama--ICCS. The two people who decided to be obedient to Christ's call to believe and be baptized typified those who have been a part of our ministry for the past 16 years at ICCS.

Mrs. E is an American married to a Japanese. She grew up "in the church". In her testimony, she shared that she had lived with depression most of her life. Last year, she "hit bottom" and called out to God to help her out. Reflecting back over the year, she saw how God has done just that. She was brought to our church by another foreign wife who worships with us regularly. Mrs. E listened carefully to the sermons, and felt that she needed to follow Christ's work in her life through Believers' Baptism.

Mr. O was brought to ICCS as a college student by a Japan Campus Crusade for Christ missionary. He enjoyed the English fellowship, made good friends, but kept the study of the Bible as an intellectual pursuit. He graduated and is working now, but has attended off and on. In January Stan challenged him to consider baptism. Mr. O said he thought it might be a good idea, but a week or so later was in a skiing accident that could have been fatal or caused paralysis. While in the hospital he had time to reflect on God's touch in preserving his life and allowing him to heal--and truly made his faith not a matter of the head but of the heart. He said in his testimony said that baptism is not the goal, but the beginning of his life of faith.

Our church leaders, in following the practices of many Japanese churches, ask that only baptized believers take part in communion. It has become our practice that after their baptism, those who have taken that step are served communion. Since we are in a study of the book of Acts this year, Stan had taken this another step in illustrating the growth of the church. Starting with a young boy last fall, he has significant people who have helped the baptismal candidates join in this communion service. All 4 who have been baptized since the fall of 2005, along with the church leaders and these peoples' encouragers took part in celebrating the Lord's Supper at the end of last week's service.

We are grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Mrs. E and Mr. O, and look forward to seeing how God will continue to use them to bring others to themselves.

Before the young children leave the worship service for nursery they meet Pastor Stan at the door, where he prays for them and for their time in class. We have been blessed with a lively group of children! We expect that God will do great things in their lives, as well.