Roberta Stephens Portrait
Roberta lives in Yokohama where she has a variety of ministries. She serves with the Japan Baptist Union Women in their ministries, and since she lives close to Kanto Gakuin, an American Baptist related educational consortium, she is engaged in a variety of other ministry opportunities. These include telling Bible stories to kindergarteners, leading Bible studies with their mothers, and speaking at chapel services at Kanto Gakuin University. She works with the Sigma Society on the university campus, helping them to prepare for volunteer work in Thailand. She also recruits volunteers from the U.S. to work in partner churches of the Japan Baptist Union. Her framework for all of these ministries is comprised of biblical literacy and personal evangelism.
She writes: I’ve opened my home for a day of “English only” for a project labeled “English Village.” On Wednesday mornings, kindergarten mothers come alternating with elementary school mothers for fellowship, cooking, crafts and singing. Last week three precious mothers of three year old children came with their 18 month babies and this week two joined me in making minestrone soup and biscuits. Not knowing how many would come, I prepared ingredients for 14 people. Oh well, we had a feast, anyway. Although these two mothers have more interest in English than the Bible study going on in another location, this is a golden opportunity for me to "be Jesus" to them. Our conversations range from how Roberta became a missionary, to what to do with a know-it-all three year old. As I was completing this letter one of the two mothers mentioned above showed up with her two children to deliver some cookies to me. That's what I want...not the cookies...but them to feel free to come at other times.
On Wednesday evenings, we have the second half of the English Village project. It is a Bible study in English for teachers, staff workers and college students. People are coming and going, trying to decide if they would like to become a member. The level of English proficiency runs the whole range from high to low. As was true with the mothers, there are barriers beyond my control, the worst of which is the long hours that people have to work. Some people can come at 6:30 pm and some have shown up at 8:30 (their sign to me of their good intentions). Aside from the fact that some are Christians and some are not, it’s interesting to note that two of them became Christians here in a similar Bible study 35 years ago led by a missionary. Now they want to be instrumental in encouraging others to meet Christ.
I’m dependent on Kanto Gakuin doing their part in getting the word out about this English Village project, but more than that I’m dependent on the Lord for wisdom on how to serve such a range of needs, and his encouragement in the midst of constantly changing circumstances.
• Please pray for the women in the English Village project who come, and those who will be coming.
• Pray for Roberta as she continues to interact with the women in Japan to “be Jesus” to them.