Oikodomeo: Building up [a house] in Watanoha
We continue to enjoy worshiping in our home on Sunday mornings. In January of this year, we began meeting in our home to serve our neighborhood. We are small, and are learning much in the process. Each week we acknowledge God’s presence among us with a time of silent prayer and meditation focusing on a reading from the day. We have a lesson tailored for our children, read a passage from the Old Testament (working through the various covenants, currently), worship in song and psalm, give monetarily for the needs of the community, and then have a time of sharing focusing on a passage from the New Testament (Luke, currently). We close by sharing the Lord’s Supper as the pinnacle of our time together.
In conjunction with our house church, Michiko and I have begun a Facebook group called deshi no michi (disciples’ path). We realized that there are a handful of young ladies with whom we have a discipling relationship of some sort. Two of them are young Christians from our time in Sendai. One is a good friend from Morioka. The rest are here in Ishinomaki with us. Using Facebook, we are able to follow up to–or prepare for–worship, share scriptures, encouraging thoughts, concerns and prayers. The challenge of following Jesus is taking our faith from devotions to daily life: allowing the Word to become flesh through us each week.
The Sea is Still and the Angels Sing: Two New Sisters are Born
Ayumi was baptized on Friday, May 3. We borrowed a baptistery rigged up on casters and filled it with warm water. Dozens of people from various groups gathered to celebrate with Ayumi as she committed her life to Jesus. Ayumi is a precious member of our house church.
Yuko was baptized on Sunday, July 7. We gathered at the local beach to celebrate the birth of a new sister in Christ! Throughout scripture, the sea often represents chaos and death–a familiar image in the minds of many of our neighbors. Something profound happens when this sea is the medium for an ancient Christian rite in which a person passes through death into true life.
Please keep Ayumi and Yuko in your prayers as they continue their journeys as a followers of Jesus.
Let’s Start Talking Watanoha 2013 a Success!
From June 9-30, the Altrock family of Fort Worth, Texas blessed us by providing our neighbors one-on-one English conversation practice using the book of Luke. They did a great job sharing their faith and helping us connect with 16 local readers–several who are new to us. Thank you, Craig, Leslee, Joshua, Matthew, Kolby, and Andrew!! Find out more at Let’s Start Talking’s homepage.
We’re Better Together: Christian Collaboration
Tohoku Recovery and Development Initiative (TRDI). Michiko and I have been brainstorming and meeting with a handful of representatives from other like-minded groups in the area to think and pray through the potential for economic development in this area. (Thank you, Virginia, Brian, Stephen, Jordan, Yurika and Ming). We are trying to implement insights from ‘appreciative inquiry’ and ‘asset-based community development’–a holistic method of approaching crisis and post-crisis situations from a positive, rather than negative focus. To learn more check out: Corbett, Steve, and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor– and Yourself. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2012.
Nakamadatcha! One of the first-fruits of TRDI is the Nakamadatcha project. In the local dialect, “nakamadatcha” means something like “hey, we’re in this together!” We have interviewed nearly 40 small businesses so far. Ming, a volunteer from Hong Kong, brought the gift of a creative mind and a background in graphic design. She conducted many interviews and helped us design window stickers and posters to help foster a sense of solidarity among local small businesses. We are currently processing the interviews to create a quarterly booklet highlighting local community members.
Completed the first phase of the Liberty Music Project. Some of our good friends here, Virginia, Mami, and Ryo, are heading up a collaborative music ministry. The Liberty Music Project seeks to encourage local community members and create spaces to share our faith through music–all kinds of music: Gospel, Classical, Jazz, etc. My role was to teach singing and songs to students in a couple of local middle schools (IN the middle schools! how awesome is that!?) in preparation for a music festival at San Juan Bautista park nearby. The festival was on Saturday, July 6 and was wonderful.
Towards better logistical collaboration. For several months now I have been in small meetings with leaders from other Christian groups in the area. The goal is to streamline our volunteer-related logistics (housing, transportation, task-assignment, etc.) so that we can cooperate better. There is still a lot to iron out, but it was satisfying to see at least some of this bear fruit as we shared teams with other groups in June. Much thanks to our wonderful teammates Lora, Beth, and Eric for going the extra mile with the volunteer teams!
Brunch and Bingo? Most Saturday mornings our family heads over to a local community center to fellowship with about 50 of our neighbors–mostly elderly. This is an event that evolved out of an early, post-disaster, food distribution. We drink coffee, chat, play BINGO (free, of course), and eat an early lunch with a collection of fishermen, farmers, construction workers, homemakers, and even an ex-whaler.
When Shepherds are Truly Pastoral
Mid-June, we enjoyed an encouraging visit from the Southalls and Bernys, elders at the Highway 36 Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. It’s so good to have elders behind us that seek to build us up. We love you!!