The Friday Morning English Bible Class
It is fellowship time after an emotional lesson on the tragedy of Cain and Abel. As we enjoy a snack following the lesson, Kumiko, one of the five class members present that day burst into tears as she described her personal life. As a young Christian, Kumiko married a non-believing husband. At first he was sympathetic to her beliefs and explained to her that he had attended a Christian kindergarten. He became a urologist, and is the "apple of his mother's eye." Kumiko explained that her mother-in-law, is "perfect in her own eyes," and thinks the same of her son. Early in their marriage they had two sons, who professed faith in Christ as young children. Kumiko said that her husband didn't care much about what they believed at the time, because he was so busy with his doctoral residency. However, after their daughter's birth, he had more time for family concerns and really bonded with their daughter. So, when the daughter made her profession of faith in Christ, Kumiko's husband exploded! He will not allow her to be baptized, and becomes angry and starts talking "divorce" whenever the topic is mentioned.
The other ladies in the class comforted Kumiko with encouragement and support. They too have seen their share of persecution from their families and social circles. When I asked Kumiko permission to share her story with you, fellow Christians in America, her face brightened up, and she enthusiastically exclaimed, "Yes! Please! Ask them to pray for my family, especially for my husband to believe." So, we relay this request to you, knowing that you will share this burden.
A Door Closes …
This class is a small part of the ministry needs David has responded to, and recently his role within the Okinawa Baptist Convention has changed and expanded. In prior newsletters we asked you to pray for Hamagawa Baptist Church. David had responded to a request from the church's elderly pastor to see how he might help the small struggling congregation. Sadly, however, the senior pastor could not decide after meetings with the church and with convention leaders on what the shape of David's ministry should be, so she withdrew the request.
… But windows of Opportunity Open!
So, convention leaders and David agreed to send out a survey to all the churches to hear their requests on how they would like to use the missionary. Wow! Back came "umpteen" requests for English Bible studies and Sunday evening English worship services. Okinawa Christians are really seeking to internationalize. Whenever there's a big conference, or mission groups from other Asian countries visit Okinawa, the church members say, "We really need to speak English better so we can talk about our faith in the common language." So, the churches have spoken, the need is identified, and David agrees with the call. He has been coordinating the requests to come up with a workable schedule. Some of the requests were also for preaching morning services in Japanese, so David can keep fresh in the "heart" language here.
Our New Home Church
For our family's spiritual needs, we recently joined First Baptist Church of Okinawa City, where David is teaching a youth English conversation class and will begin preaching once- monthly in the Sunday morning service. Leslie is teaching Sunday School and leading a Women's Group at the church.