O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:4-25
Even the exemplary Christian, Paul, confesses this internal struggle which every Christian faces. The sin nature in the human body desires to sin. Humanly the Christian must choose with his mind to serve the righteous choice in the law of God in the Bible. This classic battle of good and evil is played out in our lives. In ourselves we don’t have the strength, wisdom or fortitude to consistently defeat the desire of our body to sin. Human will and effort to conform to a set of rules of dos and don’ts will only result in frustration and failure. Only by yielding our members, mind, and body to the complete control of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives, can we see the victory and have a spiritual walk that pleases our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for one another to not walk in the flesh but in the spirit.
January is always a quieter month because everything is closed down for the first few days of the New Year, and people are on winter vacation. Still there are ways to use that time for special opportunities beyond just our regular services. Ken is also not in the schools until the third week of this month. So we were able to get two teachers in on two different occasions for an evening of good food and the Lord opens up opportunities to witness. The high school band teacher who directs the community choir that we are a part of, came one evening and was with us for 5 hours! He had also attended the Christmas program so Ken asked him if he understood the things that were talked about at the program. His answer, “I remember all of it!”. With that opening, Ken was able to talk of his spiritual need for almost an hour, while we ate. . Ken is thankful for the Japanese teachers he gets to work with in the local schools. It is a privilege to help our community by assisting teaching English. Both in class and between classes God gives opportunities to share the truth of the gospel with these teachers. Please pray that he would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and bold in witnessing to them. Pray especially for a temporary English teacher he’s been working with, who has read the Bible for 18 years but admits he is not saved. (Yet!) We hope for more opportunities in our home as well, like these men, and know that seeds planted, even after they have to leave Teshio due to transfers, can bring forth the fruits of salvation.
By the end of the month we are both back in typical schedules and with the groups that we like to be involved with which gives us exposure to those around us. Vicki sometimes find it so hard to believe that, still, in a small town, unless she takes part in these groups, even while grocery shopping, she can go days without seeing anyone she knows beyond our neighbors. Japanese do not readily come to a church services. They do not readily bring up spiritual things because ‘spiritual’ to them is mostly relative to just being Japanese and the ‘customs’ they have in both living and being a Shinto and or Buddhist. Therefore, the more we get involved personally with those around us, Ken in the schools, Vicki in the music and pottery groups, the more God can give us open doors to conversations.
Another way God encourages us in the work here, is when others attend who are just in town for the day or weekend and are Christians. One mid-age couple whose son is working here in town for just a couple years, comes every couple months from 5 hours away to be with him for the weekend. We have mentioned Kei Saito attending when he can. It is always a blessing to have his parents and one younger sister attend church before heading back to Sapporo. Another couple has been coming from just over an hour away if the weather allows. Mr. Odagiri may have been saved some 35 years ago but was never discipled. Masako-san is saved but needs refreshing in her life as well. So we want to be faithful to these that God brings our way, whether for many times or just a moment in time.
Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalms 106:1
Praise and Thanks are needed to be given to the Lord on a moment-by-moment basis. As we go through our day, as we encounter the sin in this world and in our own flesh, we will be greatly helped if we train our minds and hearts to give God Praise and Thanks each time. By disciplining our minds to do this internally, and verbally acknowledging this before others, it will become a habit and pattern in our lives. We can give God Praise and Thanks in each situation, bad or good, as we remember that God is always Good and that God is always Merciful. We can depend on these two great attributes of God’s holy character in any situation. Therefore we can give him Praise and Thanks always. We Praise God and Thank Him for His goodness to us and His everlasting mercy towards us. Praise Ye the Lord!!
February is short for everyone! But our snowstorms weren’t short at all. One “Blizzard Bomb”, as the news called it, hit us for almost 3 days! Fun to dig out of that one! We praise God for a warm, strong building to live and serve Christ from. Ministry becomes challenging at times, but not impossible. Besides services where Japanese are often reluctant to attend, you know that we seek hearts that are open through one on one conversations, through Ken’s work in the schools, and Vicki in the town clubs in which she participates. Beings we are also a very rural work, it opens up time for us, via the internet, to encourage, study with, and uphold even from afar. We both take part in ministering to other missionaries in Japan or on deputation for Japan, via private in-Japan-only missionary groups on Facebook. Ken is in the men’s group and provides devotionals for them, and Vicki is the administrator for the women’s group. She also has three or four ladies with whom she is constantly in contact to help them, to uphold them, to encourage as much as she can through the struggles they face day by day. She also keeps in contact via email and apps with a couple of our secret believers. The opportunities of ministry, in this day and age, are not limited by our location and we thank the Lord for this extension to the work of the Lord.
We had Mr. Yamamoto, the High School band and town chorus director over for dinner again this month. Food is always a hit with this single man but we praise God for another witnessing opportunity this afforded at the end of the evening. Beings music has been a part of his life for many years, He had heard the name Messiah because he had sung the Hallelujah Chorus from “the Messiah” in the past. Ken gave him a Manga-style book, titled “The Messiah” and explained it was about Jesus Christ and who He is and who He wants to be for Mr. Yamamoto. Mr. Yamamoto said he was so surprised because he had no idea that Jesus Christ and the Messiah were the same! Manga-style books are quite a popular type of writing here in Japan and it could be compared to a comic book style but quite different actually. This style is also used for books for all age brackets. We also gave Mr. Yamamoto a book called “The Concise Bible”. A collection of Bible readings to introduce both the Bible and the God of the Bible to unbelievers here. His reply was, “I am a Buddhist but I will read both of these books”. Thank you for continuing to pray for Mr. Yamamoto. One other opportunity is coming up for the first time with a couple we have been associated with in town for many years, especially as a result of the sister-city program. We will have Mr. and Mrs. Tamura over for dinner on the 11th of March. Each, in years past, has attended a Christmas program but this will be the first possible open door to witnessing to them.
- Praise for your prayers, support and special gifts for the hearing aids this month.
- People’s hearts to be open to the Gospel.
- Due to automatic transfers, some from Teshio will be moved on. Others will come in for a determined time. Looking for new opportunities.
- Salvation of the Christians’ spouses.
Serving Christ Together, Ken & Vicki
Just A Prayer At Night – Your evening is our daytime!