Dear brothers and Sisters, Praise the Lord for blessing us with the miracle of salvation! In the midst of our human weakness and unworthiness, our precious Lord continues being faithful to work, transforming the hearts and giving life to His called ones.
Eight years ago I met a 15 years old Peruvian boy who was sent by his Peruvian immigrant parents religiously to an American-Japanese church every Sunday. He sat for years by himself listening without understanding the English, with limited Japanese participation. He told me that he was a Christian and that he was baptized at the church but he couldn’t really understand things well. Because we could speak Spanish, he started attending our church. I learned about his interests so I started weekly teaching him how to play guitar five years ago, followed by a bible study. When he became 20 years old, he told me that he understood the Gospel and God, but he did not want to do God’s will, instead he wanted to live enjoying what the bible calls sin. He left our church; he left his home and went into a very dark and dangerous way of life. During the next years he only called me sporadically asking advice when he was in his lowest moments. Some months ago he appeared at the church on a Sunday morning and sat at the back and stayed during the message. He told me that he was now 23 and wanted to talk. When he started to talk he just broke in tears and couldn’t stop saying that the Lord is merciful. He said that he did not deserve his forgiveness but he was sorry. He wanted me to help him pray so God would forgive his sins; he knew God was being so patient with him and he wanted to surrender his life and live for God. He started citing the verses that we used to study when he was 16 years old in our bible studies and couldn’t stop crying and praising God for His forgiveness.
Right now he is the only young man in our church, but he has been growing in love for God, in faithfulness, studying the bible, and serving and sharing the Gospel. Last Sunday he told me that he wanted to get baptized because he really believes now and did not when he was young. Please pray praising God for His patience with all of us, for His care, gentleness and immeasurable mercy. Our Lord reigns and is the Lord of our salvation and the time is His. Please pray for this young man while we study and prepare him for his baptism. All glory to God.
Being an international church that is visited by people from many countries who profess faith in Christ and have different kind of foundations, we wanted to go back to the basics for a month so we focused on studying that there is only One God and the warnings against the sin of idolatry. We have many reactions in the waves of guest who are becoming regular. The fruit is that some families started family bible studies concerning who is the person of God. We have some people also struggling because in their Christianity to go to participate in cultural visit to Buddhist and Shinto temples fit perfectly somehow in their Christianity. Now the Bible spoke and things are clear so please pray for the ones that are now focusing on God and not just on His gifts, on the Creator and not just on his creation, and also for the new guests to repent from attending a Christian church on Sunday and visiting Buddhist temples during the week because of the cultural and social life that it produces.
Praise God for God’s favor in our homeless ministry “Iesu Sama Kara”. Since we started providing meals, drinks, clothes and heating pads to warm up the body, we always saw some respond hesitantly because some of us are foreigners, but month by month, we see them being more receptive. Our last monthly visit was a blessing, because after we finished giving the donations, one homeless elderly man came almost running towards us saying, "I am homeless too,” and praise God we had one more set of meals and warming pads for him. Please pray for them because most of the homeless are elderly and now it is very cold for people living in cardboard boxes outside. Also pray for the relationship that we want to build with them so the Gospel can be preached.
The Bible is clear about the order of how we should distribute and arrange our giving and service towards others. We need to start serving and providing for our own brothers and sisters in Christ first. Matthew 25 tells us about God welcoming to heaven some because they supported and cared for “his little ones.” We want to please God more in our giving as a church. Here in Japan, outside of our church, we couldn’t find Christians in need or poverty; this is why we are supporting the homeless as an outreach of love. We are praying God leads us to support other brothers in Christ that are living in poverty and need. Please help us praying so God will lead us soon to support brothers in the faith first. After that we will be glad that we are administrating our resources and mercy in the proper order. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
Please pray for our church to continue focused on Christ and our mission of preaching the Gospel to all creation in the world. We do not want our cultures and their traditions to pressure or change the firm and biblical foundations on which our church stands. All glory to God! *Please pray for an American brother and his family, who just had his 5th child and last week and has been informed that will be deployed again abroad for seven months. We have being ministering and supporting American military families for the last 12 years. It is a very hard situation, emotionally and spiritually for the family that is left alone and for the challenges that a man has to face while living far away from his family in a hostile, tense, foreign and dangerous place. It is very common to hear about divorces and men committing suicide in the American military base next to us. Please pray so God and the hope of the Gospel will save them.
Thank you always for your prayers and support, All glory to God, Luis Tokyo-Japan