That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Col. 1:10,11
Although we strive to use every opportunity in daily life to witness in word and in deed, December is a month of concentrated effort to tell of Christ’s birth and hand out invitations to our evangelistic program held this year again on the 23rd. Posters are made and invitations printed and handed out all across town both here and in neighboring towns. We also hand out special ordered English language Bible verse calendars (calendars are a popular year end gift in this country) in which Ken has also added a page of the verses translated into Japanese. Many school classes talk about Christmas but only know about the commercialized Satan—oh of course, just move the N and you have the Santa version that has exploded here in Japan in recent years. When these conversations come up Ken is able to briefly explain again the true meaning of Christmas with an invitation to our program. Christmas themed speeches given in many of Ken’s classes all were around receiving gifts or Christmas cakes which are a Japanese version of something special to eat on Christmas Eve. Many times there is a piece of chocolate on top of the cake with “Merry Xmas” on it instead of Christmas. We were especially happy that one of the teachers Ken has taught with at the junior high for a few years now was eager to receive the advertisement invitations to hand out to the students even though Ken wasn’t even scheduled to teach at the junior high this month. That teacher and several students did attend.
We have held our Christmas program on the 23rd of December for 3 years now. It is a national holiday and because 5 out of 7 years it is a weekday, more people are apt to be around and not have conflicts during the day. This time of year many parties and events are held on Sundays and can keep many away. We also hold it in the afternoon so that, hopefully, more children will be able to attend as well as it being in between meal times so women can come and not be worried about meal preparation. Westerners and Europeans have a concept of holding regular meetings for religious purposes but there is no such thing in this country so simple daily events and jobs can keep them away from even something like this if there is conflict.
God gave answer to one prayer right away for the 23rd in holding back the snow storms that started later that day. We had several coming from as far away as an hour and we did not desire the weather to be a hindrance and it wasn’t! Fifteen adults (including two of our believers, Christopher Collins and ourselves), 13 junior highers and two grade school students attended. Four adults attended for the first time and most of the junior highers had not attended before. Two of the adults were a couple from Enbetsu and the husband is one of Christopher’s bosses. Christopher is very vibrant in his testimony with these people and at work. We hope to have more opportunities with them as well as for the Word he shares with them during his stay would give them a yearning to know more.
One of the doctors at the hospital where Vicki gets her monthly eye check done was able to come (she drove an hour). She claims salvation but admitted has not been real faithful to the Lord in her daily life in recent years. She accepted an invitation to spend the late afternoon and early evening with us so we were happy to get to know her a little more. Please pray for us to be an encouragement to Dr. Satomi Fujii.
Ken and Christopher worked up the birth of Jesus story into a flannel-graph presentation and we interspersed Christmas hymns into the story relevant to the scene just presented sung in various combinations (men or women or all of us believers). Christopher did a wonderful job even down to memorizing scripture passages of conversation between those involved in the birth of Jesus. One of our unsaved contacts who has attended almost every program we have given, said she had never seen flannel-graph before and having the story given in such a format really helped make it even clearer to her. Ken ended the program with preaching on the reason why Christ was born and that the true story of Christmas did not end there but on a cross and again did not end there—but He was risen again and in heaven desiring that all would come to know the truth of the Gospel. We both sang “Born to Die” at the closing of the service. Although we did not see quick evidence of God working in people’s hearts we trust the promise that the Word of God will ‘not return void’ and just praise God for the opportunity to again share the true meaning of CHRISTmas with so many.
Serving Christ Together,
Ken and Vicki Mansell
Just A Prayer At Night – your evening is our daytime