Uomoto 2017 End of the Year Report - Murray

2017 END of the YEAR REPORT - Murray Uomoto  (January 17, 2018; April 3, slightly updated)

“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived…But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life..…Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age.” (Titus 3:2-7; Gal. 1:4)

POSTING   Warm greetings from a Sendai eve with temps to drop to about 40 degrees F. Sakura cherries bloom 2 weeks early. I returned by bicycle from posting new evangelistic English classes and western-country concert flyers in mailboxes in the East Koyodai district north. Say a short prayer to see the Kubotas (like RCJ pastor in Morioka in Iwate Prefecture up north and meaning Eternal Guardian Paddy),) and Chibas (meaning 1000 Leaves) in heaven…and for foot soldiers—our general, the Holy Spirit. Kanji (pron. Kahn-jee) , Chinese characters like on mailboxes can be read variously. Last week posting flyers I prayed for the Idemitsus (Breaking Forth of Light) (like the gas station chain name). Mnemonics help in remembering names. MA (missionary associate) JB posted about 500 English flyers recently in apartment buildings towards Izumi Subway Station.  

OTOMOS   Forgive me for the lateness. I have time to only update my end of the year report. It has been one campaign after another designing, ordering, distributing flyers, holding events. Tonight Mrs. Otomo whose husband was baptized in 1975 at the East Sendai Church begun in our home in 1956 thanked me over the phone for years of labor for the salvation of the Japanese people. They transferred in 1989 to the Kita Nakayama Chapel begun n my folk’s living room in 1974. I thought one would not be a missionary if he were not laboring for the lost. At the joint Sunday afternoon service yesterday at the common RCJ grave, I had introduced JB and Michael Serge (from Gospel Life OPC in Chicago) teaching English in Ehime Prefecture passed Osaka. Sadly as we are no longer sister churches, d.v., some day we ought to have our own common grave. But for the time being it is a comfort thinking of being laid to rest with decades long friends from RCJ churches.

Brothers and Sisters, thank you so much for the years of prayers and welcome last year. Please forgive me for taking so long to thank you for the generous offering at the end of presbytery. We were informed at Dr. Coppes’ returning to Denver from our grand tour north to Dakotas and south to Texas last October.  

We covet your prayers. After meeting in our cramped one-story “house church” 19 years, April, 2016 the Lord provided the 2 story boiler firm office/warehouse with parking for 8 cars 2 minutes by car from home--near bank, post office, small supermarket, elementary school, day care and senior center…and sidewalks on both sides of the street, a rarity in a crowded land. Police box and stop sign slow cars in front. Pray for roughly $70,000 in loan repayments to friends and kin…before we all end up in the nursing home. 

Warm greetings from this busy land of poetry and history lovers. For Americans the Civil War is ancient history. In Japan, warlords (a quarter of whom were Catholic) and clans duking it out 450 years ago—is table talk. Pray hard evidence the gospel reached Japan 1400 years ago (as in China) be unearthed—maybe beating Buddhism. In Japan, tradition talks. I follow public NHK year or half year-long serials, lately on heros who happened to be Kirishitan (Catholics)—or Protestant.

PASSINGS   Thank God we made it through 2017. Others did not. More later. We began the year with new member classes, we ended with a 2 month home service transiting 23 states, putting 8000 miles on vehicles, and speaking to about 23 congregations. We thank God for WEC missionary Matt (and Annette) Cummings and retired RCJ Pastor Hiroyuki Sato and folk for taking care of the chapel in our absence. The latter, 74, was called to glory, Nov. 13, due to burst blood vessel on a walk downtown. Widow Izumi from Sendai Canaan Church attended our service, December 3. Her older sister Yuri (wife of Canaan Church Elder Shin’ichi Watanabe) was widowed in April. Izumi related husband oft said he loved to serve at Megumi Chapel.    

EVANGELISM EXPLOSION  Matt led probably the first ever EE course in the Tohoku (NE Japan)—at our chapel for 13 weeks straight, from January 7 to April 1. We have seen more fruit than in 34 years I have been back in Japan. Four women made credible professions of faith in Christ—during OJT’s (on the job training). But only “N,” a child day care worker raised in our chapel, makes it regularly to services. Baptismal preparation progresses incrementally, initially with vigor. February 10, Tsuruko and teammate Mana on OJT heard the first cry of a babe new born—humanly speaking. Mrs. Murashima living below our Nakayama area apartment near 30 years ago—professed faith in Christ in her tailor shop on Nakayama hill. Her parents, members of RCJ Sendai Canaan Church, are in glory. She closes shop on 3rd Sundays and now brings daughter to services.  Last year, I reported Hiromi Tanaka, a bus tour guide, “appears to be inching—or ‘centimeter-ing’ toward salvation.” Praise God, both Hiromi and Toshie Matsuda in Tsuruko’s Friday morning Bible class about 8 years…also professed faith in Christ during Tsuruko’s presentation of EE material one-on-one. But the latter has not been able to make it to study lately. Praise God and pray the seeds of the gospel not be plucked out of hearts nor choked by the weeds of sin within. Pray for grounding in the Word and church. Prayer partners have been one of the blessing—encouraging those not in the course as well. No system is perfect. But few we have encountered in seminaries…are in Japanese. And we are urged to tweak EE to suit. Retired grade school teacher Mrs. Miyako Sakurai has also attended Tsuruko’s study and wants to study one-on-one. EE was introduced to Japan in the 1970’s but sputtered—until revived by energetic director Pastor Yamanaka of Kyoto. 

CREATION   13 attended our chapel’s first creation seminar ever, February 19, last year, Sunday afternoon—including 3 unbelievers. One, our former kerosene truck deliverer Mr. Isamu Aizawa in his 70’s attended services about 8 years ago—but had not responded to flyers sent. The other two were ladies—Mrs. Sakurai, above—and Mrs. Kida, long time attendee of evangelistic English classes—it pays to cast seeds of the gospel wide. ☺ Evangelistic services have hardly any unbelievers attend. Nearby United Church (Kyodan) Pastor Toita showed a Grand Canyon tour video—from the perspective of Noah’s Flood. With the graying of liberal churches, Evangelicals it seems can be more open in the United Church. Pastor Toita, on the board of Creation Research Japan, brought the talk, November, 2016, even at the United Church headquarters downtown, encouraged by friends from Nishitaga Conservative Baptist in southern Sendai where most creation seminars are held. Many have never heard there is a debate—in Buddhist Japan. In reincarnation, you may have been a monkey in a previous life, if good—or wake up as a pig in the next life, if bad. ☺ During OJT survey evangelism at Sendai Station with Matt folk answered they believed we evolved from monkeys. As background…ardent evolutionist biologist Prof. Morse from Harvard and Smithsonian began teaching at Tokyo University in 1875—and Evolution spread faster in Japan than the West. 

DR. TAKAHASHI   This year 3 creation seminars are scheduled—3/4, 7/29, 11/4. March 4, chairman of Creation Research Japan, Pastor Kiyoshi Takahashi, 74, of Nishitaga Baptist above showed slides and gave his testimony on “Evolution (Shinkaron)? or Creation (Soh-zoh)? (or evolutionary creation?)” Few can match his credentials—former associate professor of Agriculture at Tohoku University in Sendai (no. 3 ranked national university), University of Michigan, NASA. Decades long ardent English student from Kita Nakayama Chapel days, seeker Mrs. Shinta, studying the Bible every other week now with Tsuruko--finally seems to have a crack in her hard shell of unbelief upon attending. Flyers were sent to around 75 churches. 6 gals in their 20’s and 30’s attending from an Evangelical church downtown expressed appreciation.

WESTERN  Last year March 20 (March 21 at Nozomi (relief) Center), we held probably the Tohoku’s first ever country-Western evangelistic concert featuring genuine cowboy gospel singer, musician, songwriter Greg Hager (nominated western artist of the year 7 years in a row) and wife Andrea from Valley Center, North Dakota on their first visit to Japan—with Megumi Chapel their first venue. I interviewed them, March 21, for TWR airing, and guided them, their staff and Lauers down coastal Joban Tollway on a “radiation tour” (to “glow in the dark for Christ” ☺ …and relay the suffering of Fukushima people to the world). Electronic billboards 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the still leaking plant showed a high of 3.4 micro Sieverts/hour or 34 times the government set “safe” level of .1μSvh--like around our home. We returned home on national Route 6 just two kilometers from the plant. September 21, we enjoyed a Chinese buffet lunch with the Hagers in Fargo, North Dakota. Greg will be back at Nozomi Center, April 14, and at our chapel, April 15. 

LGBT  April 3-5 last year, Reformed Presbyterian churches and our Mission held a joint conference in Kobe with OPC minister Prof. George Scipione of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh speaking on the LGBT agenda and on depression & meds—pressing topics in Japan. April 8-10 we welcomed him, my former prof at Westminster Seminary California, and wife Eileen for talks in Sendai and mission meeting. Then the excitement began. Sunday afternoon, April 9, “LGBT—On Homosexuality, etc.” attracted a self-proclaimed “gay” man from the United Church across the bypass. April 14, a letter arrives from the pastor saying the man had gone straight to his pastor complaining. I rush to explain. We pray together in his study for the brother and the need to study the Word. But May 2 we receive a notice from him announcing a half year series of meetings on 4th Tuesday afternoons on the issue. But…with the explanation…that someone had attended a seminar (naming our chapel) and “had received a terrible scar receiving a human rights violation…So once again let us read the Bible together, and listen to the Bible, and with the plea that we will be able to live with joy, we have planned the sort of study meeting below”, etc. I responded with a carefully worded letter pleading for fairness and biblical-ness—first go to your brother if you think he has sinned against you (Matthew 18). The first talk, May 30, was by a liberal professor of a local women’s mission school university citing gnostic gospels and queer scriptures. But lo and behold, I was asked to speak for the 2nd meeting, June 27. Woody Lauer provided moral support while son Paul translated for Reformed Presbyterian team youth. I encouraged attendance—as there likely were few places in the world they would hear a semblance of a debate. The above prof lit into me, “All you’ve done is line up Greek and verses…” The third talk was the testimony of a United Church minister who became, yes, lesbian—at a seminary in the States. “Saved by the bell,” as they say. I did not have to attend further talks due to home service and business upon return. But our hearts go out to many trapped in unbiblical lifestyles and misled by the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.

SISTERS  May 21, nurse “Y”, from the PCJ church in Makuhari, Chiba, east of Tokyo, and August 20, “Sister K” from Tsuruko’s home church in Asahikawa north of Sapporo, reported through slides on preparations to serve in Mid-Eastern and west Asian lands, respectively, inhospitable to the gospel.

ASSOCIATES  Three years ago, it looked like the year would be lonely, with families leaving. But God sent Todd and Melissa Whitford from Pilgrim OPC in Raleigh, NC to serve as MA’s along with Akiko Oshimizu from a NJ CRC, though she married a Japanese Christian, last spring. Last August, JB Hellman, graduate of my alma mater, Westminster Seminary in California, joined the Mission as an MA assigned to serve at our chapel. He’d been an assistant language teacher (ALT) 3 years in Yokohama, Gunma and Ibaragi, towards Tokyo. Whitfords served at Nozomi (relief) Center on the coast and English classes at Sendai and Sendai Eiko (Glory) churches...but left this March 13. Their cheerful presence and as a Christian couple leave a big hole. Melissa served also when single, 2006-8. They plan on seminary…and d.v., to return to Japan, praise the Lord. Todd set up a website for our chapel in Japanese & English and recorded and added Sunday messages weekly. Pray for classes for JB. Newest MA, Sarah Durham from Barre, VT, OPC, arrived March 1 to serve at Nozomi Center a year. Laura Baugh from Orland Park, Illinois, OPC (daughter of Haiti missionary Matt killed in a motorbike accident in 2005) will be serving as MA at our chapel from May 9 for 3 months. She served last year at Nozomi Center.

HOPEFULS  We began the year with 5 studying for membership. But unfortunately the Izumikawas dropped out upon being presented Evangelism Explosion material on how wonderful if believers can reproduce others…who can reproduce others. They said it was way over their heads. He was an architect. The nicest couple and in their 70’s, they have friends in the big “positive thinking” United Church” in Yonezawa, south of Yamagata. They had sought solace for daughter bedridden with fibromyalgia when they first dropped by 3 years ago. They’d saved a flyer posted in mailbox by Tsuruko 2 years earlier. But wife and daughter N. have expressed faith in Christ though the wife said she did not understand sin. We told her that would come. What a thought though—that one flyer may have made an eternal difference in one family’s life. 

BELIEVERS  An enthusiastic Christian couple, Masanori (a pharmaceutical salesman) and Akiko Izumi did join as members in April, after attending a year. But from Evangelical backgrounds, they are now looking for a church less strick on doctrine. But our friendship goes back 15 years when she attended and brought friends to our Bible Classes for Beginners at civic centers. Thankfully Akiko began and continues teaching “Easy Easy (pron. ‘Luck-oo, Luck-oo’) Piano” outreach classes for middle aged and older at our chapel and Nozomi Center. We continue to be encouraged by the presence from July, 2016, of Taeko Yoshida, the first baptized by Dad at Nakayama Chapel in Sendai 40 years ago, and from September, 2017, by Megumi Suzuki, a Korean believer married to a Japanese unbeliever, whose 6th grade son Daisuke is our only English student at present. Baptized as an infant, he has begun profession of faith preparation classes with me. 

CHINA PRAYER  Since September, 2015, Mrs. Oh a seeker in Wuhan, China has joined us via Skype computer video for an international Wednesday evening prayer meeting. She returned to China, early 2015, after living in Sendai 20 years with Tohoku University researcher husband and 2 sons. She seems to have faith in Christ and joins in during prayer. 

STUDENT EVANGELISM  I had the privilege of speaking about 6 times in 2017 at the morning chapel and Tuesday evening men’s dorm chapel on the Izumi Campus of Tohoku Gakuin University (founded in 1886 as a seminary by German Reformed Church missionaries from Pennsylvania) to around 10-200 students and staff. In their February presentation at church, the Gideons’ Sendai chapter reps (RCJ members) reported they had handed out around 11,000 New Testaments at junior, senior highs, clinics and hotels in 2016. We have helped pass out New Testaments in front of schools nearby.

ON AIR  From May, 2016, I have had the privilege of having monthly messages recorded downtown for Trans World Radio’s (TWR) “Power of the Gospel” broadcasts on 14 stations from Okinawa to Sapporo up north, and also mini-messages broadcast 4 Saturdays in August on RCJ (formerly CRC) Media Ministry’s “Tohoku Words of the Morning” broadcast around 5:55 on mainstream AM stations. But I had to take a break from summer to prepare for home service. May 15, I am scheduled to have talks recorded for the RCJ (formerly CRC) Media Ministry Tohoku Words of the Morning radio program. I have been focusing on famous Japanese who happened to be Christian or Kirishitan (Catholic)—a timely topic with the worldwide release of the movie “Silence”—on the persecution of Kirishitan in the 1600’s.  

BELOVED EX  Sadly official RCJ/OPC ties were severed, June, 2016. Personal ties remain. But the process of disengagement continues. From April I took a hiatus from teaching RCJ (Reformed Theological) Institute classes once a month at Sendai Church which I had been doing since 2008. My last class was on John Young’s book, “The Two Empires in Japan” with 5-6 attending. August 7-12, I had the privilege of having 6 daily devotions based, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, on the Heidelberg Catechism (Questions 86-87 on why do good works, then…?) appear in the RCJ family devotional “Rejoice.” (I was invited to submit them, February, 2016—when the RCJ and OPC still had ties.) Please pray for the RCJ—and the Mission as we search for a new “marriage partner.” November 23, I was assigned to bring fraternal greetings again at the Presbyterian Church in Japan (PCJ) General Assembly in Tokyo. There is still much solidness—though also a relativistic mind set on some issues.

RELATED CHAPELS  We remain the only lonely OPC mission work in all Asia with half the pop. of the world—at least with members (just a handful)—as Yamamoto Nozomi Chapel meeting in Nozomi Center was just begun by the Lauers in September, 2016. Yamagata Reformed Church voted to leave the RCJ (Reformed Church in Japan) in 2015 and borrowed Kaz Yaegashi from our Mission to be first pastor. But the installation service in April, 2016 was attended by RCJ pastors Kazama (Sendai Church), Sakamoto (Kita Nakayama Chapel), Sudo (whose wife was Dad’s secretary in the ‘50’s in East Sendai) and Fujimoto (retired pastor in Hachinohe 200 miles north baptized by Dad sixty years ago)—showing the deep ties between RCJ and OPC. We “ate grub from the same pot” as they say here—from before WW2. Woody Lauer succeeded Cal Cummings as director of Nozomi Center (50 kms. south of us), April, 2016, moving from Kita Numazu Chapel (RCJ) SW of Tokyo.

WORKERS  We thank God for those bringing the Word at Megumi in 2017—retired RCJ pastors, Hiroyuki Sato and Shoji Sudo, retired RCJ Elder Sen Nakabayashi, PCJ home missionary Daisuke Kimura’s team member Asian Access Missionary Kent Muhling, Cal Cummings, retired but filling in at Nozomi Center during the Lauers’ home service, WEC missionary Matt Cummings—and MA JB Hellman bringing his very first exhortation in Japanese, December 10, from Ephesians 1. 

FAMILY CATECHISM  October, 2015, Tsuruko and RCJ retired Pastor Tsuyoshi Sato in Odawara, SW of Tokyo, finished an 8 year project (due to tsunami relief) translating Starr Meade’s “Training Hearts, Teaching Minds,” a family devotional based on the Shorter Catechism. A Mission project, the 427 page book was self-published with help from an OPC in the Seattle area. The first printing by Word of Life Press, the largest Evangelical publisher in Japan, of only 1500 books (indicating the graying of the population) is almost sold out, praise the Lord! Todd is now working on an electronic format now that he has done same for “Confessing Christ.” We are thankful individuals and churches have bought the devotional for friends and members. 

TEMPLE MAIDENS  Tsuruko treasures her Saturday afternoon “Temple Maidens” (my nickname) class with believing women from several churches meeting in Tsuruko’s kitchen once a month. Pray for growth in faith especially for those not attending solid churches. They have begun using Tsuruko’s translation of “Training Hearts…” in class.

HOME SERVICE  August 29 to October 26, we enjoyed a 2 month home service transiting 23 states (MI, IN, IL, OH, KY, WA, UT, CO, WY, NE, SD, ND, MN, IA, KS, OK, TX, NM, FL, TN, GA, CA, HI) including airports, and speaking at about as many churches. We are thankful for the opportunity to report at the Presbytery of the Dakotas meeting in Volga, SD, and at the Presbytery of Southern California meeting at my alma mater, Westminster Seminary in Escondido, CA.
We enjoyed time with family, but sadly only 7 days in Seattle, parts of 4 days in Plano, Texas with youngest sister Julie (& Jeff) Davis and family—and 3 days with younger brother Earl in Ann Arbor, who passed away around December 6 of cardiovascular conditions. I am afraid I do not have space to mention all the people and churches that put us up and borrowed or lent cars for us on this trip. But we thank the Lord for His traveling mercies.  

SCHEDULE  Our schedule for this year also features 3 talks perhaps co-sponsored by the Miura Ayako Reading Club, and hopefully a Lee University (Cleveland, TN) orchestra and singers concert in December again (led by Prof. Arden Jensen, the MA I replaced in 1984), and a talk on Japanese Kirishitan and Christian history by journalist-editor Mr. Moribe.

GRADUATIONS  Last year saw other partings. RC Sproul passed away, December 14. Tsuruko had the privilege of translating his “Saved From What?” in 2008. Shigeru Yoshioka, former pastor of Sendai Church and president of Kobe Reformed Theological Seminary and Dad’s roommate at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, 1950-51, passed away early, 2017 (and wife Michiko, this January 29). Cousin Scott Uomoto passed away maybe in Seattle. My Uncle Hideo Onoda, Mom’s second older brother from Chicago, around 95, passed away in California, and Tsuruko’s cousin Kyohko, around 68, passed away in Iwate Prefecture up north.  

RJP  I’m the Mission’s religious juridical person rep, but Tsuruko does most of the work. She reports the paperwork for the transfer of Ishinomaki Chapel’s land and building to the RCJ General Assembly’s religious juridical person—finally was completed, April 27, 2017, taking many years to accomplish. We all thank you very much, Tsuruko, for your selfless labors.

WORKERS   With big birthdays last year, we thank God for the opportunity to serve in this field with the lowest percentage of Christians except Muslim lands—but crane necks to find successors. May God raise up workers for fields “white unto harvest.”

Yours in Christ,

Murray Uomoto
 

Lauer Update - March 2018

Dear Friends,

Through rain, sleet, and snow, we ventured to deliver the monthly Nozomi Center calendar and the Nozomi Church brochure to 3000 homes across Yamamoto Town in January and February.  Beyond the challenges we encountered and the beauty we observed, we were glad to meet many new people.  At each home, we prayed that the Lord would bring the gospel to the family.  Certain thoughts swirled in our minds.  Here is a whole community of people who don’t know and don’t worship the Sovereign, Eternal God.    That is staggering.  God, our Creator, could certainly open the hearts of these people and bring them to hear the gospel.  We pray that God will free them from idol worship and be pleased to bring them to faith and repentance in Christ.

Give thanks with us:

1)      Sarah Durham, our newest missionary associate, arrived today safely from the U.S.  Please pray for Sarah’s adjustment to Japan:  living at Nozomi Church in Yamamoto, learning to speak and understand Japanese as well as the culture, and teaching English here and in Sendai.

2)      For the memorial concert for the 2011 Eastern Japan Disaster this Saturday (3/3) at Nozomi Church.  Sarah Durham will be our guest pianist playing selections from Chopin, Debussy, and several hymns such as “Be Still My Soul” and “Amazing Grace.”   We also give thanks that Rev. Yasuo Tomii will deliver a message on Psalm 42, entitled “A Song of Hope of the sons of Korah.”  Please pray that the church will be packed with visitors and that the Lord will grant to them the hope of God’s love and salvation in Christ.   The seventh anniversary of this disaster is very significant in Japanese culture.

3)      For several new students in the English program as well as new attendees coming to some of our other center events. 

4)      That more kids have been coming to the Kids’ Play Time recently.  We pray that they will develop good friendships with each other and us, and that the Lord will grant opportunities to share the gospel with them.

Please pray with us:

1)      For those who have attended worship and Bible study in the past.  Several who were attending regularly didn’t come in January and February for sundry reasons: finding it difficult to come in the very cold weather, caring for sick family members, or being sick themselves.  Pray that these dear people would return and that the Lord would lead them to believe in Christ.

2)      For growth in Christ for the believers who attend worship and for faith for those who have not professed faith.

3)      For Rev. Tomii’s evangelistic messages Saturday during the concert, Sunday for a special evangelistic service, and next Lord’s Day while Woody is at the Presbytery of Ohio meeting.

4)      That children attending activities would come to the church to learn about the Lord.

5)     For the conversion of many who hear the 4 to 6 Bible messages Woody delivers weekly.

6)      That God would be pleased to glorify himself through Nozomi Chapel.

7)      That the Lord would raise up new missionaries and Japanese ministers to serve faithfully in our 3 chapels and to plant new Reformed churches. Pray also that churches and individuals would commit to supporting this work with offerings.

We thank God for those who pray regularly for the people here.  We are ever thankful for the privilege to bring the Word of Christ to Yamamoto.

May Jesus Christ be praised!

Woody and Laurie Lauer

OPC Japan Mission

Yaegashi Update - February 2018

One Sunday morning not too long ago, I looked around the congregation of less than 20 people and realized there were five couples there.  For half the group to be husband and wife was a very encouraging sight.  Not all are believers yet, but they were hearing the words of life in a community of sinners saved by Grace, people that love the Lord Jesus and His church. Please pray that Christian homes will be in our next report.  Pray that they will influence their communities and that Yamagata will bow the knee to our Savior.

Mrs. K., the lady we told you that Mrs. Y. invited to our English Bible study, began attending in October.  She is delightful, cheerfully learning choruses, reading the Bible, and asking questions about the lesson.  She lives alone and said the atmosphere in her house has changed, and she doesn't feel so lonely.  She came to our Christmas worship and was quite impressed to hear that The Word became a human!  The last time she came we read Isaiah 2:6-18.  Mrs. Y. excitedly explained to Mrs. K. that "God made man!  Men cannot make God!"  It is a joy to me to hear a relatively new Christian share the truth she has come to know.  This month Mrs. K. hasn't been able to come for fear of slipping on the ice.  Her legs are also more painful

Thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for your prayers and encouragement. Tonight is English Bible study night.  I am very much looking forward to it!

BTW, this is the latest addition of our heavenly Father’s child to Yamagata Reformed Church, Alun Tadayoshi Yaegashi, our Morris and Yuki’s 2nd baby boy at his baptism last Christmas.

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Lauer Update - September 2017

Dear Friends,
 
Isaiah prophesied millennia ago the good news of the Savior to come on behalf of all the nations:
 
And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isa 11:12)  
 
Then you will say on that day, "I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD; for although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me.  Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.  And in that day you will say, "Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted. Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth.” (Isa 12:1-5)
 
What joyous words to read and echo with Isaiah as grateful, forgiven sinners. We are thankful to declare the mercies of our God through Christ to the Japanese people.
Please give thanks with us for many answers to prayer:
1)     For the work of Cal and Edie Cummings these 3 months in Yamamoto.  Some days are so busy meeting ministering to people it is hard for them to find time for a break!  Pray for continuing strength and opportunities to talk about the Lord.
2)     That Mrs. Nemoto who first came with her family in May to worship has joined the Bible study with Mrs. Uno and Mrs. Isago.  She also brings her daughter to many kids’ activities.  Pray for the whole family to come to know the Lord.
3)     For the service of Mrs. Tomoko Sugawara who works tirelessly as staff of Nozomi Center.  Pray that the Lord will provide for all her family needs and that the Lord would bless her with good health.
4)     Special thanks to all who prayed with us for the Kids’ Sports Day in July.  We had 15 kids come with several parents as well.  We praise God that all had a great time, and we pray that we can plan more opportunities to build these relationships in the future.  
5)      At the July Friends’ Lunch, we were thankful for a number of men from the community who attended in addition to a number of new visitors, social workers from the town hall.  Edie reports that they came again in September!  One man shared that he enjoyed singing the hymns that he remembered from his high school days when he went to a mission school. The Bible message is always the highlight of these meetings.   Please pray that the Lord will use these messages to draw many to faith in Christ. 
6)     For the privilege of making more than 20 visits to OP churches in four weeks, reporting to each on the work in Japan.  
Please pray for these items:
1)     That the Lord will bless Edie’s cooking class this week and the Bible message in the hearts of the ladies.
2)     For strength and safety in a vigorous travel schedule for Murray and Tsuruko Uomoto during their 2 month furlough and for us during our 3 months of home service.
3)     That Mrs. Ikeda will begin to attend worship and that Mrs. Hirai, Mrs. Saeki, and Mrs. Sato will begin to attend weekly.  Pray that God’s Word and Spirit will transform the hearts of those who attend the afternoon service as well.
4)     For Mrs. Isago who had eye surgery recently and is earnestly studying the Bible. Pray that she will heal quickly and return to the Bible study soon.  
5)     That many of the men who attend different activities will begin to read the Bible attend and worship services.
6)     That the Lord would provide ways for us to reach college age and young working people in Yamamoto.
7)     That the name of Jesus would be honored in all the worship services and activities.
8)     That the Committee for the Support of the OPC Japan Mission will be able to raise the funds needed not only for current OPC Japan missionaries, but to send forth new ones as well.
Friends, let us joyously pray for the Kingdom of Christ to be established in Yamamoto and all of Japan.  Let us beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers and bring his chosen people into his kingdom!
Grateful to serve the Lord in Yamamoto,
Woody and Laurie Lauer

LIFE IN JAPAN - By Ruth Gomes, age 13.

Depression is something "common" in Japan. Due to the difficulty in learning the Japanese language, many Brazilians have been here a long time and still don't know how to communicate. Many people feel abandoned... this happens, not only with Brazilians, but also with the Japanese. Japan is such a sophisticated country, but many people do not know God and do not have real joy that is found only in Jesus Christ.  Many Brazilians who are here are factory workers; few finish middle school and they end up losing a good notion of things, to the point that many of those Brazilians who study in Japanese schools are illiterate in both languages.

Many Brazilians living here do not care about religion and such things. Once, talking to a Brazilian kid in school, I mentioned that I go to church every Sunday, and he said that that is a waste of time. How can someone say that worshiping God is a waste of our time?! Today, in Japan, less than 1% of the population is Christian, and that It is quite normal for a person to be born a Shintoist because that is beautiful, grow as a Buddhist because it`s good for you, get married in a “Christian” church because the wedding ceremony is pompous, and die in Buddhism. Often we see buildings in the form of Christian churches,  made just for weddings. The number of Shintoist and Buddhist temples in town is incredible; temples are on the streets and altars in every home.

Japanese are very superstitious. The number 4 in Japanese is shi, which also means death. So, in many buildings there are no apartments with the number 4, nor is there a fourth floor. Japanese legends are quite peculiar, and in almost all of them these is an onique. Onique is the Japanese demon; according to the legend, usually he arrives and tries to drag the person into the underworld. Therefore, one of the rituals in festivals is to chase this demon away. For this, they hang the koinobori, which is a fish made of cloth hung outside the house. The number of koinoboris hanging outdoors varies according to the number of people who live indoors in the house.

The Japanese language has three different alphabets: hiragana,  katakana and kanji. O Hiragana is used to write normal Japanese words; Katakana is used for foreign words, and Kanji is like drawings of the words. There are many words in Japanese that have many meanings, so the kanjis serve as drawing that explain what those words are. In school, I am learning lots of Kanjis. After you get the gist of it, they help our reading a lot and are not as difficult as they seemed to be at first.

The Japanese School system consists of three different schools, the first goes from First to Sixth grade: (shougakku). After you graduate from that, you go to another school from 7th to 9th grade (shyugakkou). After that, there is another graduation and they go to middle school (high school) from First through Third Grade (koukou). After that, few people go on to university (daigakkou). In Japanese school there are many subjects we do not have in Brazil, as, for example, home economics, which teaches how to sew, clean and arrange the home, and cook. From first grade on, the school lunch is prepared in separate buildings and then distributed to the regional school, given out from classroom to classroom with traycarts, dishes and silverware. Usually lunch is rice, a soup or curry, salad and some kind of meat, many times fish, and sometimes they give you fruit or gelatine, and 250ml boxes of milk for each student. Meals are made one per student, and we are not allowed to throw anything away – if you got it, you eat it. Usually the food is very good, but some days I have to drink a sip of milk at each bite of food for it to get down. On days when some classmate misses school, we play “stone, paper or scissors”, and the winner gets the milk or whatever he or she wants from menu. There is also a class about how to make Japanese tea, and how to serve and drink it. From 7th to 9th grade students must participate in extracurricular activities in school, such as kendô, judô or other sports, music, computer science, and several others. These activities exist to improve working in groups and so students can get to know each other better.

I stay in school from 8:00 AM until about 6:00 PM. When I get home, I need to rest a little, take a bath and do my homework. It is a very busy day. I am still having a little trouble because there are many words I still haven’t learned, and so sometimes I don’t understand the teachers’ explanations well. I also have trouble with some rules the school requires of the students, like having to tie your hair up at a certain height, you can’t paint your nails or use any kind of makeup, and no earrings. Girls do not have pierced ears and are surprised when I tell them that in Brazil  my age mothers pierce their daughters’ ears when they are still babies. For them, pierced ears are a sign of rebellion. One day I went to school wearing nail polish (I had used a really light pink polish over the weekend and forgot to take it off!). They took me to a different room and gave me acetone polish remover and told me clean my nails, and watched while I did it. The uniform is exactly alike for every girl, and the teachers measure the length of our skirts, that have to be below our knees, almost reaching the white socks that we have to wear.

I like in living in Japan, but miss my relatives and my home in Brazil. Sometimes I even cry from nostalgia. It is difficult to make friends with Japanese girls because I am so different from them in my appearance and way of being. Many classmates think I AM furiô (a rebellious person) because they think I dye my hair (which I do not do), I have pierced ears, and like to talk a lot. Besides, everyone know that I am a Christian, because I can’t stand to be quiet when they are teaching stuff like evolution or about many gods.

I want everyone at school to know that there is only one God and only one way for salvation and fredom from depression and worry. May God help me giving me patience to do this!
 

Yaegashi Update - June 2017

Up-Coming Events:

1. Katie's Cookie Club

Saturday, July 22nd we will have several children come over to make some summery snacks.  We hope that this fun activity will develop friendships especially among the Christian children.

2. VBS

While we used to have 10-15 children attending Vacation Bible School each year, recently we can expect only three or four.  However, God often surprises us and the staff prepare for that!  We are very eager to teach little ones about the Good Shepherd Who loves them, Who has done great things for them and Who is worthy of their devotion.  One fifth grade girl who lives about three hours from Yamagata told her mother she wants to come here every summer.  This will be her third year!  Please pray that many more will join her.

3. Granddaughter Milan Zoe Jones ( one year old), second daughter of Megumi and Jason, will be baptized by her grandfather, Kaz, on August 6.  All the Yaegashis (except our eldest son, James, who is filming in CA) will come from around the world.  We (16 of us!) will all be together for the first time since Morris and Yuki's wedding in 2014.  We are blessed by and thankful to our Loving Father for giving us this precious glimpse of Heaven where the family of God will meet at Jesus' feet, never to be parted again!

A Sweet Story from a Few Weeks Ago:

When Mrs. Y., a chapel member, was walking to her English Reading class, she saw a lady she recognized from that class walking a ways ahead of her.  The lady stopped at each little shrine she passed, then bowed and prayed.  Little by little Mrs. Y. caught up to her.  She asked her if she was indeed praying.  The lady said she was asking for protection from stumbling because she has a bad leg.  Mrs. Y. said, "Why don't you come to our English Bible Study, and we will pray with you to the God Who really listens?"  The lady said she would like to do that from September (because she has already paid for other lessons up until then).

We are very proud and encouraged by Mrs. Y.'s reaching out to that lady.  We hardly know anyone who would share her faith so boldly and lovingly.  (Do you?)

We love you all and appreciate more than you know your support of the Lord's work in Japan.  Wherever in the world there are sinners, there is a need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Yours for His sake,

Kaz and Katie Yaegashi

Lauer Update - July 2017

Dear Friends,

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Mt. 6:19-21)

As Woody has been preaching through Matthew, he came to this passage Sunday.  In the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku disaster, many of the people of Yamamoto have learned the truth that the treasures of this earth pass away, but they have yet to understand and know the true God who alone must be our treasure.  In God’s providence, Seth Felker, our summer intern, also spoke to the women on the same passage this past Thursday at a cooking class.  It was very easy for them to understand that material things can never satisfy our longings, but he challenged them to come to know and believe in the one true treasure, Christ Jesus.

Please give thanks with us:

  1. For each member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church summer volunteer mission team (S.T.M.T.)  that just completed three weeks of service to Christ and his church, approximately half-time at Nozomi relief center and church and half at Sendai Megumi Church: Rebekah Willson, Melannie Fields, Laura Trokhymenko, and Ben Goerner.  At Nozomi they followed the works of many past such teams in the tsunami-ravaged area around the center and church building, mainly doing yard work for elderly tsunami survivors, putting on an English café and a Ukrainian cooking class. The café included slides of England, sharing their faith, and live opera singing. At both Nozomi and Megumi, the team helped by passing out over 1000 leaflets inviting people in both communities to activities, most of which include gospel messages.  The team also helped the Niimuras who are completing the rebuilding of their home (lost in 2011), and handed out tracts and sang Psalm 23 at Sendai train station. We thank God for several new people who attended activities as a result of their work.
  2. For Seth Felker, the mission’s summer intern from Moody Bible Institute and Gospel Life Presbyterian Church (Chicago), who also helped the team. Though Seth’s assignment from Moody is primarily to ‘shadow missionaries Lauer and Uomoto’ for six weeks, he has also taught prayer meetings at Megumi (Murray interpreting) and delivered an evangelistic message for a Ukrainian cooking class which saw several brand new faces at Nozomi (Woody interpreting). He is also scheduled to lead devotions at the next meeting of the OPC Japan Mission.
  3. For the cheerful service of Missionary Associate, Laura Baugh, who has completed two of three months of service helping variously at Nozomi Center and Church, as well as teaching at churches in Sendai.
  4. For the interest several of these six talented college age young people have in returning to Japan mission work after completing their educations.
  5. For the students at Woody’s seminary classes at Kobe Theological Hall, where Woody teaches both NT Introduction and OT Survey.  Last month he completed teaching on the Pentateuch; this month he returns to KTH to complete NTI curriculum and to do several hours presenting his work on the WCF and ‘willful desertion’, work done as a part of a study committee of the Presbytery of Ohio.

Please pray with us:

  1. For a dear friend here who said the other day, “In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami (having lost everything), I have come to believe I do not need much.  Things are not important.”  Yet, her heart is in turmoil.  She finds comfort in attending worship and Nozomi Center activities, but her family opposes her coming.  Pray that the Lord will grant her courage in Christ.
  2. For inquirers, Mrs. U. and Mrs. I – that they would trust in the living and true God, his Word, and salvation through Christ Jesus.   Both not only attend worship, but have been studying through Genesis with Woody since spring.
  3. For Mrs. A, who along with her sister has been faithful in attendance since we began morning worship services last fall, but has not returned yet following a lengthy hospitalization for a lung problem. May the Lord grant her healing and renewed strength.
  4. For the N. family.  This young family responded to our broadened flyer distribution by attending worship once and has participated in several other activities since then. 
  5. That the Lord would pour out his Spirit on this community to believe the gospel and become disciples of Christ.
  6. For preparations for our fall furlough from late August until November 21.
  7. For the fund raising work of the Committee for the Support of the OPC Japan Mission.

Thankful that the Lord Jesus himself is raising up His people in Japan and around the world, Woody and Laurie Lauer

 RP Team English Café: Ben Goerner sharing his faith

RP Team English Café: Ben Goerner sharing his faith

 RP Team after cutting a field: Laura T, Ben, Melannie, neighbor, Rebekah, Seth

RP Team after cutting a field: Laura T, Ben, Melannie, neighbor, Rebekah, Seth

 OT Survey at Kobe Theological Hall (June, 2017)

OT Survey at Kobe Theological Hall (June, 2017)

Lauer Update - May 2017

Dear Friends,


The Scriptures reveal the wonder of our Creator God who rules in perfection and holiness and who, in His mercy, wrought salvation for his people in all nations, tribes and tongues, through his Son, Jesus Christ.  At Nozomi Church, we have the privilege of sharing this good news: God “commands all men everywhere to repent” and know the living and true God and live lives that glorify him.

Please join us in thanking the Lord:

  • For sending us Laura Baugh, daughter of Shannon Baugh Onnink and the late missionary to Haiti, Matt Baugh.  Laura arrived in Japan this month to serve as a missionary associate for the OPC Japan Mission here at Yamamoto Nozomi Church and Relief Center for the summer.  Her enthusiasm for Japan, the Japanese people, and serving the Lord has been obvious and deeply appreciated by the staff and community here in Yamamoto, as well as by the OPCJM.  She has plunged right into the work from the first day, graciously and happily serving.  
  • For the group of volunteers from Solomon’s Porch Church in Singapore who came to Nozomi from May 4 to 8, doing yard work for the community, putting on a BBQ for over 90 people from Yamamoto, and a café at which several of them performed or shared stories of the Lord’s work in their lives with the people from the community.
  • For the N. family who attended worship for the first time.  Since then, the mother and daughter have attended several activities.  Please pray the Lord will bring them to faith.

Please pray:

  • For preparations for our upcoming furlough (Sept.-Oct.). Please also consider asking your session to host a visit and report to your church by either the Lauers or Uomotos (also on furlough at that time).  We give thanks that the Rev. and Mrs. Calvin K. Cummings have volunteered to re-assume responsibilities here at Nozomi during this furlough time.The two inquirers who attend worship faithfully, Mrs. U and Mrs. I.  Both are in a weekly Bible study with Woody.  
  • Pray also for three other women and two men who attend occasionally.
  • For the two teams of volunteers coming in June.  
  • On the 3rd, over 30 students from a (nominally) Christian High School from Ibaragi Prefecture will be coming to Nozomi for a half a day of service to the Yamamoto community.  
  • On the 16th, an  RPCNA short term missions’ team will stay at Nozomi to help with church and center activities and construction projects at Sendai Megumi Church for three weeks.
  • For Seth Felker, a Moody Bible Institute student and member of Chicago’s Gospel life Presbyterian Church (OPC), whom the mission will be hosting as a summer intern,.  He will mentor with both Sendai area OPC missionaries, Murray Uomoto and Woody.  Please pray that the Lord will use this time to develop and nurture both Seth’s gifts for future ministry and a calling to serve in Japan.
  • For the Word of God to be planted in the hearts of all who attend the worship services and the many activities at Nozomi.

Your servants in Christ,
Laurie and Woody Lauer

Yaegashi Update - May 2017

One of the most satisfying opportunities we have had in Yamagata has been to be foster parents.  To be allowed to shelter little folks who had nowhere else to go, seemed to use the resources and gifts God had given us, besides adding to the sugar and spice, snakes and snails of the five blessings born here.
 
Twenty-eight years ago, after lots of effort and frustration, we were contacted by the welfare department and asked to take care of a five-year-old.  Although he lived in an orphanage, he came to us on holidays and special occasions.  Having to take him back, each time was so hard on all of us, I realized that even though he called us "Mother" and "Father", I had to think of him as our nephew:  We were eager for his visits.  When he was here we were responsible for him, teaching him about the Lord Jesus, praying with and for him, feeding him, comforting him, playing with him, but when the time came, he had to leave to leave...just like my brother's children.  We kept that routine until he graduated from high school and got a job.  He is now 34 and living in another city.  We haven't heard from him for two years.  
 
Our next boy came when he was two!  I will never forget looking out the window the day he arrived and feeling my heart melt.  What a precious child!  The welfare department apologized for asking us to keep another boy while we had the first one with us (It was Christmas time.), but I said we were delighted.  I told her, "Christmas is the story of a baby who needed a place to stay!"  That child had a devoted father, but the mother had kicked them out when the baby was born.The father needed help over the holidays when he had to work all night sometimes.  We kept the little boy three weeks then, and later three months when the father had a traffic accident.  Off and on through the years, for birthdays and other fun times, they would come and visit.  But now the boy is an adult, and we haven't had contact for several years.
 
The third boy, Hirotaka, came to us in 2005 when he was 15.  He lived with us and went to night school not far from here.  We still see him now and then.  He seems interested in Christianity, but works on Sunday, and doesn't come to church.  He does come to see us from time to time. For example, he came to help shovel the snow last winter.  And we are hoping he can come this week to celebrate his 27th birthday.

Well, He came!  We celebrated his 27th birthday!

This shows you a bit of what life in Yamagata is like in many relationships, school, neighborhood, even church.  We are available when people are in need.  They are willing to listen when we tell them about a Heavenly Father Who gave His Son to be our Savior.  But when the crisis passes, so does their interest in spiritual things.  We are left with deep love and happy memories, but a longing to know we will meet again at Jesus' feet.  

Please pray for these boys.  We only had them for a little while here, but we pray that we will have them for eternity.

Kaz & Katie Yaegashi
Ministering at Yamagata Reformed Church

Lauer Update - April 2017

Dear Friends,

Many in the community think of church attendance: “Shiki ga takai.”  That is, it is difficult to step up into the high level of a church.  They are not good enough and need to be morally better before they enter.  If they only understood that God alone is good; they need to be concerned not about the group around them, but about God who calls them to live obediently and joyfully in covenant with Him.   Some think they won’t understand this foreign religion: a personal God who has revealed himself to men.  Others think, “ I am Japanese. My family, my friends, my co-workers will not accept my coming to a church. I can’t enter because, to become a Christian, I would have to give up being Japanese (yes, that thinking really exists).  

In Jesus’ day, was it any different for Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews?  He risked his reputation and his position to come to see Jesus at night.  In his heart, he knew that Jesus had “come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (Jn. 3:2) So, he sought out the words of eternal life.  It is the same today in Japan for those whom the Lord is calling to be his own.  

At Nozomi Church, we are thankful that many in the community are willing to come to activities: to talk, to relax, and to listen.  Genuine concern and continuing love, is that not what draws us to trust the word of others? Yes, it takes a lot of time to understand the message of the Bible which is so contrary to  Japanese culture. But, many now in the surrounding community are willing to listen to God’s Word.  

We thank God for a wonderful 2 weeks with counseling professor Dr. George Scipione and his wife Eileen.  They shared their teaching and wisdom about forgiveness, depression, LGBT, obsessive recluseness, and other extreme problems at a joint conference of the Reformed Presbyterian Church ministers and the OPC Japan Mission.  George also preached or taught seminars for several congregations of the Covenanters, the Brazilian church near Nagoya, and all three OPC in Yamagata, Sendai, and Yamamoto.  In each place, the Lord was pleased to encourage and strengthen the believers as well as challenge the inquirers to a deeper trust in God and his Word.  We thank the Presbytery of Ohio for sending them to minister to our mission and our congregations.

Please pray with us:

  • That God will open the hearts of Yamamoto to know their Creator and understand who they are before him. 
  • That the Lord would use the efforts of the team from Singapore in early May.  They will hold a neighborhood barbecue as well as an English Café with music and testimonies.  
  • That regular visitors would have courage to attend worship and that they would understand Jesus’ total sacrifice for those who would believe.
  • That the morning sermon series on Matthew and the evening series on the Apostles’ Creed will bear the fruit of faith in those who hear.
  • That the Lord will provide opportunities for us to build relationships with kids in order to begin a kids’ Bible class in the future.
  • That through the regular activities the Lord would make us a blessing and encouragement to the community and enable us to develop friendships and provide opportunities to share the gospel.  Pray for fruit from the weekly Bible study, monthly Friends’ Lunch, cooking club, Hiyoko (mom and tots) café, weekly café, kids’ playtime, English classes, and weekly morning worship and bimonthly evening worship.
  • For our home service (aka. Furlough) visiting churches this fall.

Thank God: 

  • For 6 inquirers who come frequently to worship and for the 2 who come morning and evening.  
  • For Mrs. U. and Mrs. I. who are in an inquirers’ class.  With no prior knowledge of the Bible, much time will be required to help them understand the Bible.
  • For the 2 new piano classes on Wednesday afternoons.  Many people are signing up for the group class, and the teacher plans eventually for Woody to teach a short Bible message after each class.

Thankful to share in this ministry with you,
Woody and Laurie Lauer

Lauer Update - March 2017

Dear Friends,

February and March have been packed with events at Nozomi Center through which the Word of God has been shared with many people.  The music performed by the J-Symphony duo, a flautist and classical guitarist, delighted the more than 30 who attended Friends’ Lunch.  In order to hold these concerts in Tohoku, they raised money through charity concerts in Tokyo.  Their faith in the Lord is a shining example to people here.  The luncheon includes evangelistic preaching.  One mother and daughter pair each month produce a painting with a Bible verse in calligraphy.  Many enjoy reading these and taking them home to decorate their walls.  Just Friday, we were asked to explain the Bible passage.  The Lord has indeed blessed the church in Japan greatly in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster as believers from many churches have worked together to minister the Word of God and his love to the people here. 

Through the Chick (mother-toddler) Café and Friday Café, many good opportunities arise to discuss the trials of life and how God’s Word speaks to them.

This past week, we were thrilled to welcome Country Western singer Greg Hager and his wife Andrea who began his tour of Japan by giving concerts at both Sendai Megumi and Yamamoto Nozomi Chapels.  His music tells the story of his life on the range as a cowboy and of his faith in Christ.  For these people who watched western movies and listened to western music growing up, they were ecstatic to meet a real live cowboy! At the end of the long day, Greg graciously sang more songs for a latecomer.  We thank God for the Hagers’ faith and for their work for the Lord. 

The community at large speaks of Nozomi Center now as Nozomi Church though activities of the Center continue. This has been a good transition.  Several people are enthusiastically inviting their friends to activities, an unusual commitment for non-Christians, one which shows they trust the staff. Last week, one of the men who regularly play Japanese chess (Shogi) at Friday Café asked Woody to organize a ping-pong activity for men starting next month.  Pray that the Lord will open their hearts to hear and believe in the God of the Bible.

Thank the Lord with us:

  • Two women who come to worship regularly, Mrs. I and Mrs. U, have asked to begin to study the Bible. Their attendance at church was a direct result of the diaconal ministry of Nozomi Center to them.  
  • For the upcoming joint conference for Japanese Covenanters and the OPC Japan Mission, featuring the Rev. George Scipione as the main speaker. Pray that this would be a blessing to all, and pray for additional messages he will be delivering to our Brazilian ministry  in Nagoya, to the Yamagata Reformed Church, to Megumi Church, as well as to Nozomi Church.
  • For Mrs. Izumi who will begin teaching group piano lessons in April twice a month at Nozomi Church with a Bible message to follow. Pray for lots of people to join.
  • That we have moved into our new home just 2 minutes from the Nozomi Church.  Renovations will continue for some time to come, but we are happy to be in the neighborhood.  As one neighbor said,"We were comforted to see lights on in your house at night."  The devastating effects of the disaster remain heavy in the minds of everyone here. Our deepest thanks to all who have helped us in construction and moving!

Petition the Lord with us:

  • For fruit from neighborhood visitation.
  • That through the sermon series on Matthew, many will come to faith in Christ.
  • Pray also for fruit from the various activities: Chick café, Friday café, cooking club, Friends’ Lunch, English classes, piano lessons and special activities on March 30 and April 25.
  • For new missionaries, new associate missionaries and for the financial support necessary for all.    (See opcjapan.com for details.)

May the Lord be praised in earnest throughout the town of Yamamoto and surroundings.
In Christ,
Woody and Laurie Lauer

Yaegashi Update February 2017

When some men from our supporting churches were visiting the mission not too long ago, one of them asked if Kaz ever got feedback from his sermons.  He mentioned that in the offertory prayer which the members take turns giving, it is common for that person to thank God for "the pastor's message", perhaps mentioning a particular point.  The American men were impressed by that.

Last Sunday during our prayer time after worship, Mrs. Y began telling Jesus how difficult her job as a teacher's assistant had become.  Another teacher had questioned her coming to school too early.  Mrs. Y had thought she could help the homeroom teacher prepare for the day or do some other helpful thing.  She was made to feel mocked and ashamed.  But she said the pastor's sermon on Jonah, made her realize God's goodness in the midst of trouble.  God has His eyes on His children and when it seems trials come one after another, we can trust Him to understand our pain and support us, working all of it out for His own glory and our good.  She was thankful for His promises and would go to school the next day with a smiling face and cheerful heart.  Amen!

We also want you to know that our foster son, Hirotaka, now 27 and a working man, came by several days ago.  We haven't seen him since last spring.  We had had some heavy snow, and he thought he might be able to help us shovel it away!  We were delighted to see him, of course!  He stayed and had supper with us, and then sat in on Katie's English class.

Then just yesterday a boy who used to come to the children's English class came by as Katie was clearing up some leftover snow, and we had a lovely chat.  He will begin college in April.

Please pray that these two boys will turn to Christ for guidance toward their future, especially their eternal life.

Pray for Mrs. Y that her understanding more of God's love will draw her closer to Him and be the means of her friends' and family' learning to love Him, too.

Kaz & Katie Yaegashi
OPC Japan Mission Associate Missionaries
Sent by the Presbytery of Mississippi Valley of the PCA
Yamagata, Japan

Mrs. Y in her baptismal service in 2015

Yaegashi Update - January 2017

The Wednesday Evening Bible Class, using "Our Daily Bread" in English and Japanese, had three regular members for most of this year, Mr. T., Mrs. Y., and Miss A.  But Miss A. got married in September and has chosen to spend her evenings with her new husband.  While we miss the good discussions we used to have, we have encouraged her to take care of her man.  He is a member of another church, so we are delighted to witness the beginning of a new Christian home.  Please pray for the young couple as they decide which church they should attend together.  She is interested in developing a Young Adult's Bible Study which he could be helpful with.  That budding class is having a Christmas gathering on the 17th of this month.  

Mrs. Y. joined a tennis club with her husband and for several months had night matches, so she wasn't able to come.  Those nights the conversation with Mr. T. became more personal.   Mr. T. had been attending weekly morning worship services off and on for about 30 years, but almost every Sunday for the past three years.  He loves to read the Bible, and spends several hours every day studying it.  He is interested in English, so he comes on Wednesdays also.  He finds Jesus Christ "very attractive", but still feels he cannot abandon being Japanese to follow Him.  I assured him it is God who made him Japanese and will help him be a better Japanese if he surrenders his heart to Christ.  

The English conversation classes offer many opportunities to share the Gospel.  I introduced one man to a friend in the U.S. who had been a missionary to Taiwan until he had a stroke several years ago.  They became "pen pals", with Charlie continuing his missionary endeavors with Mr. O.  One day Mr. O. laughed and said, "God, God, God!  All Charlie talks about (in the e-mails) is God!"  I was rather taken aback and wondered if the correspondence was going to end.  But as Mr. O. was leaving, he paused and said, almost to himself, "Charlie is my best friend."

A little girl I teach, who had lived in Texas for six years, said she has no Christian friends.  We have a girl in our church who is also 10, so I suggested they come over and make more Christmas cookies.  They had a wonderful, silly and yummy time.  Maybe we will do this again and "Katie's Cookie Club" will continue.  Please pray that these girls will find the support and closeness that only Christian friendship can provide.  How often I have thanked God for the wonderful girlfriends I have had since my childhood.  

However, we can't make cookies until I get a new oven!  The one I've had for 22 years refused to turn on last Saturday, and no amount of cajoling will get it to start again.  It won't be easy to find one with the safety features I've had to do without all these years, so please pray for that too!

Thank you for your prayerful support

Kaz & Katie Yaegashi
From Yamagata, Japan

 Katie & her student, Momoka

Katie & her student, Momoka

Gomes Update - January 2017

The Gomes Family is looking forward to an exciting and very busy year. It’s a blessing to see how everything and everyone grows. 

Ruth, our youngest, will finish the Chogako (middle school) in March, and in April she begins a new stage in the Chugako (junior high school). She is rapidly picking up language skills as she proceeds studying Kanji and the spoken Nihongo. We share our overwhelming joy that our church is also growing with kids her own age, so that she can fellowship in Christ with them. Davi starts his senior year in an international high school. We are proud of his endurance and patience shown as he matures as a man of God. He loves to play his instruments (five of them), and he plays in church as part of the worship. We pray for guidance as he makes his decisions on this very important year of his life. Marcia stopped working at the school, and though financially stressing we opted for her to dedicate herself full time in the field. Her teaching position offered a good discount in Davi’s tuition as well as almost twenty per cent of our income, so please join us in prayers of gratitude, for we’ll have more time together, also in prayers as we depend our budget totally upon the Lord. Daniel spends his days in the preparation of studies, sermons, and lectures. Teaching English, discipling, counseling and the overall church activities take over most part of the day, approximately six hours. We are very thankful that in our very busy schedule we still find time to invest in our family, which is our first mission. One of the things that we are doing together is our workout routines. This year we are glad that Marcia ad Ruth also joined Danie and Davi’s jiu jitsu lessons.

Christ is Life Presbyterian Church gathered together during the holidays at the pastoral residence. Both Christmas and New Year's Eve were celebrated with a special dinner, shortly after a brief reflection by Pastor Daniel. On which occasion we numbered more than fifty people. We also exchanged Christmas gifts amongst ourselves.

The work continues every Sundays, at the CBI’s building in Nagoya, were we have our worship service and Sunday school. We now have three Japanese nationals attending the services and being counseled and discipled in Bible study and in our symbols of faith. For their understanding, we have included at least one song in Japanese during the service and publishing the WCF Instruction in Japanese in our Sunday’s bulletin. The entire service is simultaneously translated to Japanese.

The CBI staff and facilities have been really great to us, however at the rate we are growing in number, we feel the need to still search for our own location, where our project can go and grow even further. 

We are very thankful for many prayers and suport of so many people we have not even met. If you ever come our east way be sure to stop by and be an eye witness to what the Lord is doing in us, and through us." 

Uomoto Update - January 2017

Dear Praying Friends,

Warm greetings from a crisp Sendai eve with temps to drop to about minus 2 degrees C. only.  Today was a beautiful day with snow melting on roads and hillsides.

Yesterday a smiling young Jehovah’s Witness maybe in her 20’s came to the door.  Two days ago a frail elderly woman trying to show me a JW page on her tablet and another smiling gal maybe around 20 dropped by.  I complimented them as I was impressed these lost souls working so hard to be one of the elect would knock on doors in the snow.  I wondered where are the Christians?  Sad to say, we see eager beaver pairs of Mormons on bicycles with helmets; gals, too.  There are at least 4, 5 Mormon churches in Sendai.  There are 100,000 JW’s knocking on doors all over Japan.  I must say the JW’s are trying to keep up with the times.  The grandma-type wanted badly to show me stuff on her tablet and have me take their magazine.  But I kidded them that it’s unfair—they don’t take our tracts.  This time though the young gal all smiles still seemed genuinely interested if we met every week and who were the speakers.  Pray she and the older woman will someday be saved from their clutches.  I told them, “You have to believe in Jesus,” to which surprisingly for a JW, the young gal smiled and said she did.  I wanted to let slip the next piece of logic--that you aren’t supposed to believe in a creature, you know, even an arch angel.  But I decided to take it slower.  But overall, this was about the best conversation I have had so far with JW’s. I purposely stayed clear of mentioning red flag words like the Trinity, etc.—cuz that just seems to close their minds and label us as those who believe such errors (to their way of thinking). Moons ago, JW moms used to haul along kids and go door to door.  But societal opinion seems to have made them spruce up their image.  The older woman said 1 out of 200 in Izumi Ward are JW’s.  That would make their numbers better than for the general Evangelical ratio in Japan which is 3 out of 1000.  So sad.  

Beloved brother and sisters in Christ, thank you for your prayers and support that have kept us plugging along these 33 years back on the field.  Please continue to remember our and the mission’s needs at this crucial time.  The Lord has provided our OPC mission work a wonderful used office building for our chapel. Last April we signed the contract. We still have $90,000 in loans to friends and family to return before we all end up in the nursing home.

Nov. 18, 9 volunteers and staff from Trans World Radio from places like Arizona, Philadelphia, Kansas, Singapore and Japan—plus WEC missionary Matt Cummings--helped what they called “donkey-tracting” posting 1500 packs of tracts in 2 neighborhoods nearby. After lunch fellowship, having finished earlier than expected, the men helped cut and stuff blue Styrofoam insulation between rafters in the warehouse side of the 2nd story.  Since last May, I have had the privilege monthly of having messages recorded downtown at Radio3 (FM 76.2) for TWR to be broadcast on 14 radio stations from Okinawa in the south to Akita Prefecture, north of Sendai. Pastors from different denominations have about 12 minutes to speak with about 16 minutes of “filler” gospel music in Japanese and English.  There are no religious broadcasting stations per se in Japan.  But unbelievers don’t mind listening to music in even an unknown language—as long as it is soothing. This is basically a voluntary ministry and listeners may be far away, but we do pray for fruit.

Dec. 14 we had our first evangelistic concert in our new facility with about 38 present, though 17 were from the orchestra and music team from Lee University in Tennessee led by Prof. Arden Jensen who was the missionary associate I replaced in 1984. They have been coming now for about 6 years every other year to serve from up north in the tsunami hit coast of Iwate Prefecture to Tokyo Christian College and Yokohama area down south.  They want to help the churches, many tiny, in Japan with students raising support to come, it sounds like.  They had drivers for their vanload of instruments and stayed at Nozomi Center 2 hours south by subway and train.  For at least 6 of the concert guests, it may have been the first time they had ever been inside a church building.

We are excited about the first ever, as far as we know, Evangelism Explosion course offered in the Tohoku (NE Japan) being offered 13 weeks straight, 1/7 to 4/1, at our chapel with 4 students including Tsuruko and myself and 2 auditors, with WEC missionary Matt Cummings leading.  Tomorrow at 10 a.m. will be the very first OJT (on the job training) with former English student Mrs. Kida, maybe in her early 50’s willing to come to our chapel to listen to a short presentation of the gospel.  Pray the Holy Spirit enable her to understand and desire and to believe the gospel.  I try to bicycle or drive up to church up to 2 hours early to turn on kerosene heaters.  We know no system is perfect and few are in Japanese.  But I wish we had begun this 33 years ago when I first returned to Japan.  For newcomers, EE was begun by Dr. James Kennedy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is now in every country in the world with over a million trained.  It was tried in Japan in the ‘70’s apparently but seems to have fizzled.  Matt says he did not think EE would work in Japan until he met the present on-fire director Pastor Yamanaka down in Kyoto who has greatly revamped the program.

Please be praying as we look forward to the very first creation seminar, 2/19, with Kyodan (United Church) nearby Pastor Toita showing video of his visit to the Grand Canyon.  I know this may not be your bag but I do plead with you to place yourselves in the shoes of the 95% of Japanese people who have never ever maybe heard there is an alternative to the reigning paradigm.  I do not want to have that on my conscience, myself.  Especially when the leading Evolutionists in the world themselves declare that the present new-Darwinian paradigm ought not be taught in schools.  How about that! If evolutionists leaders themselves are saying such—why—I want the whole world to hear.

The significance of Pastor Toita is…that he is a United Church pastor which we have all along thought to be more on the liberal side of things. But that he was able, 11/18, to make the same presentation at the United Church headquarters downtown, called Emao (Emmaus) indicates times have truly changed and PTL! the little creation movement we missionaries have tried to encourage seems to be having an influence wider than their numbers.

March 20, we are looking forward to our first evangelistic country-Western gospel concert featuring award winning artist and genuine cowboy Greg Hager and wife from North Dakota on their first visit to Japan.  Please be praying the Lord will use the events to bring lost sheep home.  For now.

 His peace,
 Murray

Lauer Update - January 2017

Dear Friends,

The history of God’s relationship to man is a pattern of man’s unfaithfulness and rebellion in the face of God’s steadfast love and holy laws forbidding their sin. God was with the Israelites in the wilderness day and night, and he was with them in the temple; yet despite his vast mercies poured out upon them, they forsook him again and again. Like many in America today, much of Israel embraced human wisdom (what was “right” in their own eyes) and man-made gods.  What a wonder then that the Creator God should come to dwell among men to call them yet again to faith and repentance. John testified of Him, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being,” and further, ” the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:4, 14). What a wonder indeed. This same God of glory yet seeks for men to worship him: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). This is the message we bring to the people of Japan and Yamamoto who do not know or worship him. The Lord grants opportunities almost daily to speak of his glory. Pray with us that the Lord would pour out His Holy Spirit upon the people of Yamamoto whose hearts will be changed one at a time.  

We are thankful for all who heard the promise of God’s salvation through Christ last month.  Beginning with the Thanksgiving Luncheon continuing through Christmas Day, neighbors and friends of Nozomi Center and Nozomi Chapel heard messages weekly proclaiming the good news.  We were happy to welcome them to the cooking club, the Friday cafés, the Hiyoko cafés (for moms and tots), the Lee University Ensemble Christmas Concert, Friends’ Lunch, the Christmas party for kids, and the Christmas singing party for adults in addition to Sunday worship services.  We were especially thankful to answer probing questions and have discussion about the Lord as a result of these and for the further building of relationships in the community.  Pray, pray, pray for the Lord to plant his Word and bless many with a desire to become disciples of Christ.

Amidst the busy December schedule, a few special things occurred.  Mrs. U. who had studied the Bible for a few months with Woody had stopped coming for a time for personal reasons.  She returned in December to tell us that she had finished reading the Old Testament and all but the last part of the New Testament in just a few months.  She is very interested in it, but said there is much she doesn’t understand and she really enjoys learning about it.  When Woody read John 1:1-14 with her, she immediately recognized John’s parallel wording with Genesis 1 and seemed able to understand the message of God incarnate.  Wow, that was amazing.

We give thanks each time a Bible message is brought to the people.  We thank God that Mr. Takeda came every month to Friends’ Lunch (with consistent gospel preaching) and every week to café.  In December, at the age of 94, he succumbed to pneumonia and breathed his last.  We miss him sorely; he kept all the men entertained playing Japanese chess. His destiny is in the Lord’s hands. We are concerned for another neighbor who is now hospitalized in serious condition.  Laurie prayed with her and her husband briefly.  We pray that the Lord will give Mrs. H. opportunity to hear and believe the gospel.  We are ever aware of the brevity of our lives and the hardness of man’s heart.

Rev. Yasuo Tomii and his wife Misako joined us for 3 days. Reverend Tomii brought the message at the Nozomi Center adult Christmas party after which Misako led the people in singing both traditional Japanese songs and hymns.  Together with the Nozomi staff, the Tomiis helped pass out Christmas gifts to the children at a nearby temporary housing facility.  On Sunday, we rejoiced together when nine women from the community came to worship on Christmas Day to hear Rev. Tomii preach, recounting the story of the coming of God into the world for our salvation.  We give thanks for the wonderful example of Christian faith and life the people saw in the Tomiis.

Please pray:

  • For fruit from neighborhood visitation.
  • For swift completion of the post-tsunami renovation of the 1st floor of our future home. We give thanks for the team of volunteers that accomplished much last month.
  • That the Lord will prepare Mr. and Mrs H. and Mrs. U. to hear the gospel and believe.  Pray also for all for fruit from the various activities.
  • For the opportunity to begin a Bible study for unbelievers as well as one for believers.
  • For new missionaries, new associate missionaries and for the financial support necessary for all.  The mission has been off denominational support for a year.  (The [Ad Hoc] Committee for the Support of the OPC Japan Mission has been fundraising. See donation page.)

May the Lord bless you and your congregation in this new year.
In Christ,
Woody and Laurie

Gomes December Update

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: Then said they among the heathen, The Lord †hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; Whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126
 
So far the Lord has helped us!

The year 2016 was full of challenges, victories, and growth, both personally and as the body of Christ gathering in Obu.

We grew from 11 members to almost 50!

We started two Sunday Bible School classes (youth and children), besides the one we had for adults; We had our first youth camp; We held monthly meetings for the women of the church, where we studied the Bible and practiced mutual teaching; Eight children were baptized; The Sunday School children memorized 36 questions and answers from the Brief Westminster Catechism.

We had our Christmas fraternization, with 40 people gathered in the pastoral house.

Three Japanese nationals are regularly attending the service, with simultaneous translation, one of them is already reading his third book of the Bible and has been in constant counseling with the pastor and other members of the church.

In the midst of so many activities, God has sustained and guided our steps. We could do nothing apart of His immense goodness and willingness to use clay vessels, imperfect and unworthy as we are. God is good all the time!

Please pray that God give us the tools we need to support our job here, such as a new place for us to continue growing and having our project put in practice. 

 

Cummings Year End Letter

Dear Friends and family,
   God be gracious to us and bless us,
   And cause Your face to shine upon us.
   That Your ways may known on the earth,
   Your salvation among all nations.
   Let the peoples praise You, O God;
   Let all the peoples praise You
   Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
   For you will judge the peoples with uprightness,
   And guide the nations on the earth.
   Let the peoples praise you, O God;
   Let all the peoples praise You.
   The earth has yielded its produce;
   God, our God, blesses us.
   God blesses us,
   That all the ends of the earth may fear Him
.

The words of Psalm 67 speak for us. It is our prayer that God would be gracious and continue to bless us all.  Without His shining presence we fear living, but with His presence we have so much to rejoice, give thanks and hope for.

In May, Edie and I officially retired from our work in Japan to return to our house in Philadelphia.  It was difficult leaving what had been our home since 1970. Yet we knew it was time for us to come back to the help meet the needs of our family, and challenges in America.

Two days after arriving back in Philadelphia Cal had hip-replacement surgery. Three weeks later we began our summer in Wildwood, New Jersey as the house parents for 28 staff serving at the Boardwalk Chapel, a summer ministry of the New Jersey Presbytery of the OPC.

Wow, what a summer! Edie was challenged to prepare the evening meal for 28-32 people with 4 different dietary needs.  She cooked gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian, and normal as well as remembering special allergies some of them had.  

Interacting with the staff on a personal as well as a group was a blessing. God sent a wonderful group of young people from all over the USA, who loved the Lord and wanted to share the good news of the gospel with everyone they met on the boardwalk. It was a true blessing to see, hear, and enjoy young people talking with people of all ages about Jesus their Savior. 

We enjoyed a mini family reunion Labor Day weekend with three (Mari, Esther and Dan’s) families visiting us in Wildwood. Luke’s family made it here from Japan for several weeks in late September and early October before Dan and family returned to Angola. Our house was full. (Including Pri’s sister and her four kids there were 16 of us!! )

FAMILY

  • Matt, Annette and 5 children moved to Sendai, Japan still serving with World Evangelization for Christ.
  • Mari is a family counselor working at 3 churches in Pittsburgh.  Her husband, Jim, is taking online counseling courses at Liberti University.  They hope to start a joint Christian counseling center in the near future.
  • Daniel and wife Priscila are the only doctors at a 500 bed rural hospital in Angola, Africa serving with Christian Health Service Corps.
  • Esther and Rob have recently been accepted by SERGE (formerly known as World Harvest Mission) as medical missionaries to Guatemala.  They hope to raise enough support to leave early in 2018.  
  • Caleb is a paramedic with the Philadelphia fire department.  We are very thankful he and Lisa live only a few blocks from us giving us many opportunities to play with their 2 cute kids.
  • Luke, Chieko and their 2 girls live in Tokyo where Luke has a business as a Fuji mountain guide.  

Little by little Edie and I are settling into life in these United States. Taking care of 8 grandkids (those living in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, missing the 7 grandkids in Japan, and 3 in Angola) teaching ESL at a city church, getting involved in international student ministry, visiting family in VA, FL, NJ, catching up with friends everywhere, home repairs, learning how to use our first i-phone, has kept us busy these last few months.

We would love to hear from you all and would even enjoy your visiting us in the City of Brotherly Love. We are not far from the Italian Market, and Independence Hall and other historical sites. 

We miss Japan, and all our dear friends and 2 son’s families, but we are thankful for the opportunities God has/is affording us to serve him here.  We have aches and pains that tell us we are not as young as we used to be. Edie is going through some sciatic nerve pain in her left leg making it difficult for her to walk or stand.  I still have to go to the physical therapist weekly and keep up with the daily exercises for my hip.

It is our constant prayer that all the ends of the earth will praise Him. We so long to hear of the day when Japanese are turning to Christ daily in numbers too great to count!!  We continue to pray that many of those who have heard will believe.

We thank you for your faithful prayers over the years and ask that you not stop!  May our gracious Lord pour out His blessings on you in 2017 and may you always know His special love for each of you.

Thanking God for each of you,
Cal and Edie Cummings
1217 Wharton St.
Philadelphia, PA  19147
Email:  iesuoai17@gmail.com

Lauer Update - December 2016

Dear Friends,

Yamamoto Town has seen quite a bit of new growth over this past year.  Many new houses have been built to replace those washed away by the 2011 tsunami.   This fall, a public park, a new elementary school, a supermarket and a drugstore opened.  Five years and nine months later, the long anticipated commuter railway was re-opened December 10, connecting Sendai and parts south into Fukushima.  All these wonderful signs of “new life” are encouraging.  

As the people slowly moved back into their homes from temporary housing over these last few years, they began to come to grips with the deeper levels of loss.  Life will never be the same as it once was.  Their loved ones and friends are gone; their jobs and local businesses washed away.  The staff of Nozomi (Hope) Center has been here to listen and encourage, to work alongside the people, to offer the love of Christ and the hope of knowing the Living God both now and into eternity.  Living in the community as Yui Hamada did for 4 years serving at Nozomi Center earned her the trust and love of the people.  So we pray that it will be with us.

The Lord has provided us with a home just 2 doors from the Nozomi Center- a fixer-upper of sorts -, and a number of people have told us how glad they are we are moving in.  We have been sharing some of the same experiences our neighbors had when they began work to restore their homes.  For those who did the work themselves, they began by removing the remnants of belongings, tearing out the walls, floors and insulation, shoveling out the “muck,” and disinfecting the house.  In late April, a great bunch of OPC volunteers helped us with this for 5 days.  The tsunami reached about 4 feet up the walls of the first floor of this two-story home.  Here is what things looked like in the beginning.

The following have moved out and won’t be returning!  These provide insight into Japanese culture and the hearts of the people:

"… choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

Through the summer, we made very slow progress as we were busy with the work of Nozomi Center and preparing to open Nozomi Chapel in September.  With help from 2 young men, Josh Miller and Daniel Lauer, the clean-up was completed, several walls of sheet rock and some subflooring were installed.  James Benefiel returned twice to help in the fall, installing more walls and subflooring.  Finally, with the organizational help of the Rev. Jonathan Hutchison of the Ohio Presbytery FMC and support from the tsunami-related offerings given through the OPC Diaconal Committee, four additional OPC volunteers labored here in late November and December. Progress moved forward by leaps and bounds as these pictures show:

As our rental lease in the factory ends in January, we will move in “as is.”  We pray that by then, we will have hot running water, a few room heaters, and appliances installed. We covet your prayers that for these things:

  • That the Lord will pour out his Holy Spirit on the people of Yamamoto.
  • That we will be able to move in January and finish construction soon.
  • That the Lord will use this home to bring the gospel to many and to bless other missionaries and visitors.


Please give thanks with us:
1)    For these and other (local) hard-working volunteers
2)    For the tireless services of our general contractor, Arthur Newton, who is just finishing rebuilding his own home nearby which was completely swept away on March 11, 2011.
3)    For the opportunity to bring the gospel to Yamamoto
4)    For the sacrificial offerings poured out by many in the OPC to minister in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.  These offerings continue to bear fruit as the Word of God and the love of Christ are brought to those living in the spiritual darkness of the Town of Yamamoto. 

We give thanks for the opportunity to serve the Lord with you in Yamamoto,
Woody and Laurie Lauer

 

Yaegashi Update - December 2016

In November, our church had its annual “One-Day Retreat” at a local Spa and Recreational facility in town. Yamagata is nation-wide famous for its hot springs, one of which is here. This place where we the retreat also has a natural hot spring bath.  Every year since 2010 we have had a church retreat and through it we have given ourselves an opportunity to get to know each other, who otherwise don’t have much time for fellowship with each other after church or even during the week due to their busy daily work schedules. At the retreat, we have taken up various digging into the Bible and examining our faith-life. We either have a speaker or a CD to listen to. The study session is held from 10:30 till 12:00, with discussion time followed by lunch. After the program is over, which is about 14:30, those who love hot springs have their time of the day, taking a hot bath!  Those of you who might not be familiar with an old Japanese custom, don’t have any mistaken notion - Men and Women take baths separately!

This year we invited an elder from Sendai Reformed Church to speak to us about the work of elders in the life of the local church. He worked at an office supply company for over 40 years, during which time he was transferred several times. He told us what he did when he was first employed by the company and did every time he had to move to another branch: First told his boss and co-workers that he is a Christian. He never hid his Christian identity nor behaved evasively about his own faith. Thus, he has had no trouble in securing his privilege to participate in Sunday worship, even when the company needed his service on the Lord’s day.  He says when he knew he was going to be busy, he worked harder during the week so that he could go to church. Appreciating his effort, his co-workers gave him kind approval for his absence on Sundays! This attitude is a rarity among the Japanese Christians. Without even having had to hear about his work as elder in the church, his testimony was a tremendous encouragement to all our members. Our small congregation has 13 adult members but the retreat counted twenty-three people including seekers.

 To my right are Elder Sasaki & his wife

To my right are Elder Sasaki & his wife

From Katie:

Our Women's Christmas Luncheon this year on Dec. 7 was a great time of blessing.  Laurie Lauer from our mission brought a message of love that touched many hearts.  For all the impressive politeness and helpfulness foreigners receive from the Japanese people, home life in Japan is often troubled.  Without a Heavenly Father to turn to, a Shepherd to lean on, a Savior to cry with families flounder and fall apart.  Wives, mothers and single women often despair of finding an answer.  Laurie presented God's loving eagerness to embrace anyone who calls on Him.  Jesus even died for them!  Several women, some in tears, asked for help.  Please pray for them, thanking God for the opportunity He has given to us, to present the sweetest carol ever sung to a roomful of dear friends who need Him so much.

 To Katie’s right is our speaker, Laurie Lauer (in red)

To Katie’s right is our speaker, Laurie Lauer (in red)