Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prayer needs

This is a big week for us as we start again into the Fall. Prayer requests for us:

1 Japanese language study. Our fall semester is starting this week. We long for this next year to be a fruitful season of preparation to communicate God's word and love effectively to this generation of Japanese people.

2 Last week we brought a couple boys to a professional baseball game.   This gave us a good chance to show God's love and strengthen our relationship with their families. We did not know the two boys already knew each other as teammates in the past. We pray for one of these boys, Y, to begin attending our church with his family - as the other boy, K, has began attending!

3 Our kids return to school this week. We pray that their classmates, as well as baseball and soccer teammates and families, will be drawn to our gospel community and especially studying God's word. We had a number of them attend the recent Kids' English Camp which was filled to maximum capacity (100 kids). As a result, some of them have been asking questions of our ministry and expressing increasing interest in participation.

4 Lisa is homeschooling our oldest son Kai (who turns 8 next month) this fall, so pray for God's sustaining grace.

5 Our Grace Harbor team are participating in a mission conference next week and need wisdom as we are evaluating together how we can be more effective in contextualizing our church-planting ministry in Tokyo.

6 Pray for a healthy marriage and family life so that we will love one another in the Lord.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Some ways to pray for us

We are enjoying the beautiful peak of the Cherry Blossoms the last few days!

1. A marketplace Japanese Christian is in the first steps of theological training. He is growing spiritually and involved in church again weekly after a 10 year struggle to do. We will use a Third Millennium Ministries' (Third Mill) study, starting this weekend together. This is a actually the beginning of an answer to prayer - to see new trained and equipped Japanese men developed for leadership in Christ's church. 

2. We have our monthly Grace Harbor church plant worship service this Sunday. Pray for God to lead us to the nonChristians who he is calling to himself. Also for us to see some of our family friends attend. 

3. Pray for continued Japanese language acquisition for Lisa and I.

4. Pray for the start of the new school year this week for our kids, Kai (2nd grade), Ian (kindergarten) and Naomi (age 3 preschool). 

5. This past week Lisa had some significant time and conversation with other moms that she has gotten to know the last 7 months. It was a rare time of vulnerability for the moms, who expressed disappointment and pain. They were very curious about our marriage and how it is different. Pray that our marriage and family life will help people see that in our brokenness and weakness we can run to Jesus. 

6. You can pray about Lisa's frequent headaches. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Kozoku / family photo Dec. 26, 2013

After baseball practice, before Grace Harbor staff Christmas party. Thanks to my friend, Scott, for taking this.

On our first Christmas in Japan

On Sunday, Dec. 22 we enjoyed Christmas worship at our church, Grace City Church Tokyo.  We hope and pray we can worship next Christmas at our new church plant in Toyosu. (We have our first public monthly worship service on January 5 at Lalaport, a famous mall for Tokyoites).

On the Emperor's birthday (Dec. 23, national holiday) we went to lunch at our next door neighbor's home. We learned that it is very rare to be invited into the home of your Japanese neighbor here. For this invitation, we were so thankful and had a fun time. Later we had a fun Christmas jazz concert party with our team and friends and neighbors (47 adults, 25 kids) at Cafe Haus, a local popular restaurant.

Our kids stayed home from school on Christmas Eve - we opened presents then and worked very hard on the new lego set! They went to school on Christmas Day - the last day before a couple of weeks' winter break. Christmas is a school day and work day here.

But leading up to that day and on the day, we wished a lot of neighbors and clerks, "Merry Christmas!" I received more than a few beaming smiles from people who were not really expecting to hear that. I hope they could see the joy and deep, deep love of Christ communicated through us.

You hear a lot of classic Christmas songs and hymns in stores and restaurants during the Advent season.  Our condo had a huge Christmas tree and decorations in the lobby and courtyard. A big illuminated sign read, "Merry Christmas!" This is evidence of western influence, and kind of a rare sight here (but you can see beautiful lights in a few other parts of our neighborhood and some huge displays of lights in Tokyo, too).

Christmas Eve is huge and people buy Christmas gifts. You don't hear much at all about the person of Jesus or see much about him at Christmas time here, though. He is not really what Christmas is about here, but we pray that will change. It is a blessing to be here for the Christ of Christmas, so that hopefully He will become more famous. We missed being away from family and loved ones this Christmas.

I think for me, Christmas time more than anything, exposes ways that I need Jesus and the gospel so much. My friends and family will confirm this. 

I am savoring these Bible verses about Jesus during this first Christmas for us to do life in Japan.  I need this same Jesus in my own heart to rule and reign by his grace in the same way everyday. Also, we long for him to be more famous here like these Scriptures long for and promise. I am reminded by these verses to find my comfort and confidence in his "reign of grace" that stretches everywhere, even Japan. May he be worshipped here at Christmas time and always. May his invisible kingdom be made more visible here in Tokyo!

Micah 4:1-5

The Mountain of the Lord

  It shall come to pass in the latter days
    that the mountain of the house of the LORD
  shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
  and peoples shall flow to it,
    and many nations shall come, and say:
  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
  that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”

  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,1
    and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
  He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall decide for strong nations far away;
  and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
  nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
  but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    and no one shall make them afraid,
    for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
  For all the peoples walk
    each in the name of its god,
  but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
    forever and ever.

Micah 5:2-4

  1 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
  from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
  whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.

  Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;

  then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
  And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
    in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
  And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Video clip of our first preview worship service

Click here to watch a clip of our first preview worship service (3:52) , made by my good brother and teammate Jon Pfeil. We were so encouraged! We are praying to be able to begin worshiping together weekly in the months to come - here in Toyosu. (We usually worship at Grace City Church Tokyo in Otemachi, which takes about 45 minutes by walking and train while going with kids!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Karate Kid

Lately I (Sean) have been reminded of how I need to sometimes envision the Karate Kid as I learn Japanese. What a great movie, still a relevant story for my heart today as it was a cool story when it came out at age 7 for me. 

It involves trust in the sensei's approach. Like the Japanese janitor Mr. Miyagi, it is creative and effective. Wax on, wax off. 

It is the need for real humility which is hard when you have something to prove. It is so dangerous to become self-righteous and look to be justified by something other than Jesus. It is a temptation to have pride in what I can do or despair in what I cannot do. Instead, we can find our security in Christ while being who he made us to be - even in our limitations (which are more obvious when you are in a new culture and trying to speak Japanese). Because if Jesus has declared us right with God, we have nothing to prove, but can love and serve people in Japan or anywhere.