Cutest Thing Ever – Noah

Here in Japan, we hear the word “cute” all the time. Even from boys. We may do a write-up on it sometime. For now, this little guy from church has stolen our hearts by saying our names! Matt gets pronounced “Matto” usually, and Christina is rather long, so Noah says “Tina.” Awesome.

July Prayer Letter – Fruit, Games, and Octopus

Here’s our latest prayer letter. We’re doing better now than ever here in Japan. Thank you all for your sacrifices, comments, prayers, and support.

JPG version: P1, P2

We Need a Wii!

This is a ministry proposal I wrote up to look at the benefits of purchasing a Wii for our ministry! It’s very exciting and I honestly believe it has ministry potential. As I write this blog, there are students planning to come just to play video games with us. However, we don’t own such a system. They do! Please read through it, and if the Lord leads you to give, please mark the contribution to: #010685-4

It will go into a special section of our account, just for projects. Thank you all for your continued out-pouring on us and the Japanese. If you have any questions or concerns at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

** UPDATE: I forgot to mention, if you give or if you’re praying, please let us know! Thank you for everyone who’s already praying! **

Stellar Stella

Grandma Stella, as many call her, has recently turned 81 and even after loosing her husband Ralph last year, she continues to be a fireball of energy and passion. Within the past few weeks, she has lead 2 people to the Lord. One of whom has been a friend and contact for 30 plus years. He has heard the Gospel over and over and finally, after losing his Christian wife to cancer, submitted to the Lord just recently. It’s this kind of dedication that had allowed God to use Stella for so many years, and we believe it takes this kind of dedication to truly change Japan for Christ. Please keep Stella in your prayers.li

i**Update 7/2/09 ** Stella reported yesterday that she had lead 2 MORE people to the Lord. She’s an evangelism machine, but one that started 50+ years ago. Even still, it’s really cool to see these seeds bear fruit.

Pentecost Sunday

That guy up there is my friend Kota. Kota came to church for the first time with us yesterday. We’re pretty proud to say that he was the first ESS member to come to church! After service we went out for lunch and had a good conversation about the Bible and Religion. He is very soft-spoken and kind-hearted. Please pray for him. He is interested in the Bible, but is busy with school work so we won’t be able to start a study together. He would like to come back to church and we are so excited about it.
Sunday evening, before our second service, we handed out many tracts in the shopping area of downtown. Christina and Bruce did exceptionally well. Next time, I will try and take some pictures. Please pray for those who received the tracts. While at prayer conference we heard about a lady who took 7-9 years before she became a Christian, but always kept the first tract she received because she felt “it’s message was important.” Kota too told me “I cannot forget things about religion.” I told him that I thought it was because God is interested in him. It was my first Japanese evangelism you could say. Please keep these things in prayer. Thanks, as always.

Liar Game

Christina and I just finished watching a Japanese TV series called “Liar Game.” It was very interesting. I’d like to write a summary and explain the ties to Christianity. At the end, I will also report some encouraging news.

The show centered around a young woman named Nao Kanzaki who goes home to find the equivalent of $1 million dollars sitting on her doorstep. The note attached reads: “if you open this, then you agree to participate in the ‘Liar Game.’” Being an extremely honest girl, she promptly takes the money to the police who tell her that they can do nothing since it was a gift. She then discovers her instructions are to steal the $1 million from her elementary school teacher.

***Warning: Spoilers below this point***

Seeing that she has no choice, she approaches her teacher for advice, who offers to “take care of her money” until the time is up to return it to the game officials. Bringing him a thank-you gift (super-common here in Japan), she overhears him on the phone explaining that he’s stolen her money and will be twice the richer when the round has ended. Perplexed, she searches for help in the form of a former swindler, Shinichi Akiyama. He makes this show very entertaining.

He agrees to help her for one-half of her $1 million prize money. He comes up with a brilliant plan to take both her money and the teacher’s, and successfully wins the round. However, when she realizes that her teacher must pay $1 million to the game officials, Kanzaki takes her half of the winnings and gives it to the teacher who tried (and succeeded) to deceive her. Seeing her kindness, the swindler does the same. Thus leaving them with no wins or losses. However, in order to withdraw, they must pay the officials $500,000. Not having any money left, she is forced to continue the game, the second round being much different from the first.

The show continues on like this, with Akiyama trying to discover what the true motive is behind such a game. When we saw the conclusion tonight, we learned that the creator of the game was solely interested in this innocently honest girls reaction to greed, money, and deception. He believed that everyone was bad at heart. However, she consistently proved him wrong. In the end the games creator, who had done many bad things, was overjoyed with the thought that someone could remain pure through such temptation and trials.

I believe this is the true desire of the Japanese heart. They want to believe that such a person can exist. They want to believe in a savior. It was so interesting to see the relationship to Christianity that I had to write about it. I encourage anyone interested to watch this show. If you need help getting it, email me.

So the good news is that in our Thursday evening college meeting, one of the students told me this week that he wants to study the Bible. I was blown away by such a remark, but very excited. Please pray for this young man. His name is Kota. And also, please pray for me as I try to meet with him and share the Word. I am so excited by this opportunity!

Pot Luck and Some Good News

Last night we had a fun “Pot Luck” with all the college students. We were finally able to take some pictures of all the new Freshmen. It was quite packed! There were 45 students that came–many for the first time! They got to hear the Gospel through song, by “The Messengers,” the band of missionaries and Japanese Christians that will be playing on Saturday for another evangelistic outreach. Please pray!

The good news is that TEAM is finally able to buy the house for the Grays! They’ve been waiting since we arrived in Japan (it’s already been 5 months!!!) and are really excited to get to move. They will start negotiating this week and hope to move by next month.

April Prayer Letter and Pictures

Here’s our Easter Update and a bunch of pictures from the weekend!
JPG Version: P1P2






Sakura are blooming!

A.k.a. Cherry Blossoms, these pretty flowers are finally blooming. A beautiful reminder from God that Spring is coming! The kids are out of school right now, because the new school year is starting this month. So it’s a fun time to see everyone starting to come outside more. Anyways, we got to spend the evening viewing the cherry blossoms in the cold, but pretty park! It was a good time, we’re starting to form some connections and relationships that are very encouraging.
Last week 3 seniors graduated and left for their new jobs/schools. It was sad to see them go, but next week we hope many new Freshmen will join the group. Please keep praying for them!

PS- another video is on the way :D

Trying out a new picture mode this week. Let us know how you like it. Just double-click any picture to be taken to a large version

TEAM Horizons – Japan Focus

Hey guess what!? Japan is the Focus of this month’s TEAM Horizons. Betcha couldn’t guess that from my craft title. Anyway, if you have made a financial donation to TEAM, you should’ve gotten this month’s magazine in the mail. There’s a rumor going around that we’re in it ;) In case you haven’t seen the video that accompanies the magazine, I thought I would post it. We watched it today and it was encouraging to be reminded that others really want to see a change for the better in Japan. We have a short piece that you can skip over, but the rest of it is pretty good. Let us know what you think.

Video here!