International Ministries

Remembering

May 18, 2010 Journal
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Dear Journal Friends,

Thank you for your patience, prayers, words of encouragement and financial support.  You do not know how much it means to me?  Every day I do thank the Lord for you.

I continue to miss being in Japan.  But now I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I have just finished part of my medical treatment and will begin the next phase with it all finishing June 30th.  Give me a month to tie up loose ends on the medical end, and the doctor expects I can be ready to return to Japan in August.  I don’t know yet if it will be early or late August but at least I can see that the end is near for this time of trial and learning.  I have been learning so much from the Word, lately and have been applying it to my situation.  I would like to share some of these things at another time.

This spring, my heart has been back in Japan, especially at hearing of the death of a Pastor-friend-mentor who saw me through my early years as a missionary.  Rev. Akiharu Nasu went to be with the Lord in April.  Although I was not present at the funeral, several of my friends attended, giving greetings on my behalf to his family.

When I arrived at my first assignment after language school in 1979, Rev. Nasu serving as the Bible teacher at Shokei Jr. College and pastor at Shokei church.  I served at this church for 18 years while I taught at Shokei Gakuin. Previous to this he attended Eastern Baptist Seminary and had already assisted numerous missionaries and special service workers in Japan.

He was the first to coach me in preaching in Japanese which would turn into one big lesson in the Japanese language each time I prepared a message.  Looking back, I’m sure my attempts were premature since until that time I had never preached a sermon even in English.  What a task he had!  As it is for every budding missionary, pushing through the language barrier was the most difficult, discouraging time of my life.  Sometimes my manuscript would be so full of red ink that I could not see what I had originally written. But with sheer determination and grit, and the help of a strict, very patient Rev. Nasu, I was able to move from 2 hours of preparation per minute of sermon to the present, 40 minutes per minute of sermon time!  

Presently, I continue to practice Japanese however, by attending a Bible study in Japanese each Thursday afternoon.  Recently, I was asked to give the mother’s day devotional May 8th at Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle where I attend.  Since we had the women of the Japanese language congregation joining with the English language congregation, I was asked to do the speech in both Japanese and English instead of using an interpreter.  It went surprisingly well, and one person who understood both languages said that the Japanese part was better!  I don’t think so!  But I wish Rev. Nasu had been there!

By the way, are you thinking of participating in the 360 Matching Funds Program?  There are only a few more days to do so…until May 31st.  Just follow the link here:

http://www.internationalministries.org/drives/360_matching_fund

In Christ,

Roberta L. Stephens