International Ministries

"Happy Roberta"

April 23, 2012 Journal
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“Happy Roberta”

This phrase was a mistake!  My visiting friend, Lisa and I decided to teach my parakeet, Sunny “Happy Easter.”  Although we started a week before, he didn’t get it in time.  After my friend returned to the US, Sunny did his own substitution of “Happy Roberta” instead.  So, is she “Happy Roberta?”  Yes, for all the usual reasons, Easter worship, flowers blooming, spring’s arrival, but in addition I made an interesting discovery this year.

Easter Eggs After going out for sushi, Lisa and I stopped in at, shall we say, a place that you all would know that sells thirty-one or thirty-two flavors of ice cream.  The shop was decorated throughout the store with Easter eggs.  This would not be such an unusual thing in the US but it seemed totally incongruent for Japan which is predominately secular-Buddhist-Shinto society.  Inroads to the gospel have come from Christmas, which is now totally secularized, and recently from western Christian weddings and gospel music.  These have all given an opportunity to introduce Christianity to Japan in acceptable ways.

I didn’t have an evangelistic pamphlet with me but just remained amazed as I wondered what the girls selling ice cream thought these eggs meant.  Last Sunday when I shared with the women’s circle about the empty tomb I mentioned about the Easter egg and how it represented the grave in which Jesus was laid.  Then I told the women about our visit to the ice cream shop.  None of them had ever been in the store, even though they are quite common.  I challenged them to do what I had not done, ask the clerks if they knew what the eggs meant.

This Sunday, I was in for a big surprise.  One child came up to me and displayed 8 plastic Easter eggs and declared, “we went.”  I didn’t get it at first but later found out from her mother that her family had gone and asked the unsuspecting clerks if they knew the meaning of the Easter eggs they were selling ice cream in.  Shortly, another elderly member came up to me and said “I went and bought ice cream for my husband and I and talked to the clerks.”  Both proceeded to tell me the various reactions to the news that it represented a tomb!  Then after telling that Jesus had risen from the dead, one girl looked stunned.  “You know Christmas, don’t you?”  She shook her head with vigor.  “The same Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmas (stunned look), died on the cross for our sins and was buried in a cave, then three days later he rose from the grave.”  “Christmas is Jesus’ birth?” one girl asked...And so it went.

These two people who were about as shy as they come had their first chance to witness in a public arena.  I congratulated them as we discussed the incident, while I berated myself.  Four young clerks had the opportunity to hear the gospel in a nutshell (egg shell?) for the first time.  Praise the Lord!

Home Assignment Roberta is also happy to announce her short home assignment.  I will be returning to the USA-Puerto Rico for a three month home assignment from September 1-November 30th.  My schedule is being coordinated by Terri Simpkins an MPT member, (terrisimp@aol.com 206-399-0029206-399-0029) and others on my Missionary Partnership Team.  Please contact her about your desire to have me visit.  I’m looking forward to this short three-month period of time.  I have two purposes in mind.  First, I want to thank all of you who support me in prayer and financially.  But I might not be able to see all of you personally due to the limited time.  The second purpose is to complete my financial commitment to International Ministries before I return to the field.  This means that I need to find supporters to sustain me until I retire eighteen months from my return to Japan.  Your request for me to visit will be considered based on the best strategy for me to be able to continue in mission in Japan.  If you would like to know what my current status is please log on to my page on the International Ministries website at www.internationalministries.org .

Prayer requests:  please pray as I try to complete my schedule for this year, April to April, 2013.  Since I will be out of the area a number of times this year, it makes it difficult for me to plan and makes my colleagues feel uncertain as to my involvement.  I’ve started two new Bible studies and pray that I will be able to see personal growth and new commitments to Christ.


Yours affectionately in Christ,

Roberta

roberta@robertastephens.com 

Senkyoshi-kan B

1-50-1 Mutsuura-Higashi, Kanazawa-Ku

Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken

Japan  236-0037