2014-11-05

A Few Reasons Why I Love Living in Nagoya, Japan

After being in Nagoya for two months I am grateful to say that I have grown to appreciate this city more than I anticipated. There is a vibrance here that I haven't experienced in my many trips to Japan with family. Granted, I've come this time with fresh lenses and with a renewed intentionality--but the more I see in this city the more I appreciate it. It truly is alive and well (and in some cases, not so well). Here are a few observations and reasons why I think this is a great city in Japan for missions:


  • Being the third largest city in Japan, it's not the largest city in Japan. I love the friends I have in Tokyo, Japan's largest city. Hiroko has childhood friends there that I have come to love, I have new friends who are doing great work there, but I find myself grateful I don't live there. From my apartment I can ride my bike to my friend Mitt's coffee shop, to my friend Yasuo's coffee house, to CBI, to anywhere. I can ride my bike from one side of our city to the other. In some cases it's certainly not ideal, but it's possible. I can't imagine trying to do this in Osaka or Tokyo. As we try to understand our city, love our city, love and support our city, the size of our city matters. Riding my bicycle through my city, listening to praise music, singing to our God and King while praying for my city has become one of my favorite things to do here.
  • 名古屋人. Nagoya-jin--Nagoya people. I've met Japanese men and women who have lived in Nagoya their whole lives. Born and bred Nagoyan. They have a fondness for this city that is a bit more difficult to find in larger cities where there are a lot of post-college transplants. As I meet people who have a love for this city I am inspired to love this city in a way that honors Christ. Just like any other place I've been, there are people who are trying to move on, to move to different places--the grass is always greener (となりのイバフはよく見える)。Simply asking how this expression is said in Japanese has led to me being able to share my views on loving the place where you live. This sentiment also echoes where we moved to Japan from, Denton, TX. God didn't put us in either of these cities by accident. As we live our lives in a way that considers others more important than ourselves, it has been a joy to talk, dream, and love Nagoya alongside her residents.
  • Nagoya is central. If you look at a map of Japan, specifically 本州 (Honshu) the main island, there are three cities where things are happening. They are (in order) Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Nagoya is right in the middle of them. It's location makes these larger cities accessible, thus enabling us to partner and support our brothers and sisters in these cities. 
These days I'm finding myself praying for two things specifically: a powerful movement of the Spirit in Japan, and for droves of life-long cross-cultural Jesus-exalting ambassadors of Christ to come to Japan to live, love, and proclaim Jesus. Would you pray with us? 

2014-10-24

On Culture and Reconciliation: Learning I need to Learn

While in biblical counseling back in Texas, our counselor told us something that has really resonated with me and caused me to think a lot. In talking about the nuances of living overseas, and our fears related to them, he took the opportunity to encourage both of us. He said, "God, who is making all things new, has given you a unique opportunity that a lot of people don't get. You have the opportunity to labor, love, pray, and experience Japan. The opportunity to labor, love, pray and experience the redemption of Japan, its people, and its culture."

My tendency (and I would argue, everyone's) is to see things through the lenses of the culture we grew up in. That's what I know. No where is this more magnified than in a cross-cultural environment. And you know what? It's hard. It's messy. And I'm often making mistakes. My tendencies come out so quickly when I see things that are unfamiliar. Often times I don't even know I'm doing it.

If I'm honest, my gut reaction is that the differences that I see around me tend to be negative. I don't think I'm alone in this either.  Unfamiliar = bad and familiar = good. This is a tough pill to swallow!

"Wait, in Latin America you can be late to meetings? That's terrible."
"Wait, in the middle east you start to eat dinner at 10pm? Weird. Wait...they smoke too??"
"In Japan you don't even use a subject in the sentence? That's not good. How do you know what people are saying?"
"Your family is really loud. Why is that?"
"Why do they not make eye contact when looking at me?"

I could go on and on. The tendency in these situations is for me to take my preferences and overlay them to what I see. When I do that the result is almost always a negative experience.

What if we waged a war against our flesh which tells us, "My way is the best way (sin)". What if instead, by God's grace, we looked at God's creation and said, "His."? I have the opportunity to die daily. To wage a war against my flesh and my preferences and to become "as to the Japanese, a Japanese".

Did I need to move to Japan to do this? No. And this is my conviction, and my purpose in writing. I am guilty of being lazy, apathetic, ashamed, and embarrassed of my beliefs. It took me moving to Japan to realize how much I rely on myself instead of dying every day to tell people the greatest news on earth: the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's in varying degrees, but as you try to get to know your neighbor--put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions. Get to know them. In doing so you'll accomplish at least three things:

  1. You'll understand more about the tapestry of God's infinite design and love (Romans 1:20)
  2. You will be obedient to scriptures by considering others more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3)
  3. You will share the gospel with them, and display the love of Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20)
You don't need to move to Japan to learn about how selfish you are. I didn't either. God had me do it and I'm grateful for it. There is much more learning and sharing to be done here. 

Get to know your neighbors. Suspend judgment and consult the scriptures. While your neighbor might have different color skin, and they might make foods that are stinky, and they might not talk loud enough for you to hear them, they might speak in a language that's difficult to understand but you know what? God made them beautiful. Seek to understand that beauty. As a Christian, when you understand that, you will understand Him and love Him more. 

Go tell the Good News!

2014-07-21

Reflections on Support-Raising

"My family are missionaries."

If I'm honest, it's taken me a while to come to grips with that. I've yet to sort through all of the reasons why I've felt uncomfortable with the title, but one reason I'm sure I've been uncomfortable with it is because, well--as Christians aren't we all missionaries? Aren't we all to live missional lives? Aren't we all to be living lives on purpose with the hope and intention of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm no biblical expert or scholar, but here is my answer: Yes. And to the ends of the earth.

Missionary - one who is sent. Christians are ambassadors of reconciliation. We're all called to be the heralds of The Good News. Jesus instructed us this way:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 ESV

What you also see in scripture is the commissioning of those being sent off:

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 
Acts 13:1-3 ESV

We stay, we go. We all play a part. It's been referenced as "Go. Send. Or disobey". Those who are commissioned, set apart as those who go, are missionaries. We go; we are also sent. We are one body with many parts, working together to reach the ends of the earth to tell the greatest news we've ever heard ourselves that many have yet to hear.

So, here it goes: The Farmer family are missionaries. Being sent by the church to reach the unreached. That is our calling. We've invited people to send us, and they have answered the call. 

As we sit on the edge of our initial support raising journey I wanted to share some thoughts and observations that I've had along the way.

  1. Don't go unless you're sent. This can be hard. There are lot of things that may seem like hurdles that churches put before potential missionaries. Our friends at Bethlehem Baptist Church have a program that takes no less than two years of preparation to go through. Our own process of preparation has been a year and a half. It has been a blessing to both establish and pull up roots here in Denton--both at the same time. It has been a joy to prepare for our gospel goodbyes while also submitting to the leadership of our church which will be partnering with us in prayer, support, and spiritual covering as we go. 
  2. You're in need, and that's a great thing. We don't need to pretend we're strong enough to make it on our own. This is a wrong view of who we are in Christ, and even the example Christ set for us. We should humbly ask and present our needs, and rejoice in the Lord when he meets our needs. Ask! Tell people the need. Let them know specifically how they can be involved. 
  3. You are dependent on God for everything. The mercies of the Lord are new every morning. Raising support is a sweet, sweet; tangible way to experience the mercies of the Lord that are new and fresh for all the redeemed. As more people are stirred by the Lord to join in the gospel work you have been called to, God's love, mercy, and provision are shown all the more. You have a great opportunity to walk in deep dependency and reflect the blessing of provision back to God. People are going to say yes. People are going to say no. That's fine, and it's God who will provide. My family has not known a greater dependency on the Lord then the last year, and we're extremely grateful for it.
  4. Make a plan. If you simply look at the end goal it's easy to feel like it is a mountain that will be impossible to climb. Break it up. If you're climbing a mountain, what's the first checkpoint? Aim for that. When you're there it may be early or it may be late, but what's the next checkpoint? How do you get there? Make a plan and go for it. Take steps and ask God to guide them.
  5. Wait. This one is one of the hardest for me. My brain works in such a way that I make a plan, and I stick to it, and I pursue it. Here's the reality for a lot of your supporters that you have to remember: you're not the only thing on their mind. Say it to yourself. They have children, they have families, they have issues at work, they have a million other things demanding their attention. Wait and pray. Follow up--but give it time. Pray for them. By name. Pray for their families, their lives, their relationship in the Lord to grow and be deeper and deeper in love with Him.
  6. Do what you say you'll do. This can be hard...especially since you're meeting with so many people who are in so many different phases. Your initial meetings, your follow up, your referrals, often time 20+ people at once. Be organized. Slow down if you need to. Don't over exert yourself at the cost of establishing and building a meaningful ministry relationship. Are you going to send regular newsletters? Then do it.
  7. Keep people informed. Start your support-raising journey with others by your side. You're about to go through a lot of ups and downs so community will be important. Keep your growing support team involved in your life too. You don't need to tell them everything about everything, but ask for their prayers regularly and let them know how God is moving in your ministry. 
  8. Know your mission field. What will you be doing? What's your role? How has God called you to it? What is your supporter's role in it? What does the gospel say to the situation you're moving in to? How will your family be involved? What's the history of the region? What are other missionaries doing? Are there other missionaries? Give your supporters confidence by being knowledgeable of what you're getting in to. This helps you and them.
  9. Be open-handed. The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9). This verse is one reason I know why we're to plan. It's also a reason I know we're to be open-handed about our planning. Make a plan, stick to it, ask for help in it, and know that God will move you in His perfect timing.
  10. Pray. Put this before, after, and in between all of these other points. Our God is a good Father who gives His children good gifts. Prayer is in so many ways the most powerful weapon a missionary has in the journey ahead of them. Don't forsake it, no matter how awesome it's going or how awesome your plan is. 
I'm not the expert. This is just what I've learned in our journey. I hope it's something that others who are in the midst of their initial support raising or who are considering missions can read and be encouraged by. Ultimately this is what I know to be true: If God calls you, he will equip you. He will be known. He will be glorified. 
 

2014-07-07

I Drove The Nails

Visiting Hiroshima, Japan was one of the most sobering experiences of my life. I was fortunate to travel there in April, 2011. The Hiroshima Peace museum is a harrowing example of humanity. The first portion of the museum depicts two nations, Japan and the United States, their histories, and that they were not without faults and mistakes in the months and years leading up to the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The second portion of the museum is one that I will never forget.

As you walk in the lights dim, and you are confronted with wax depictions of what it looked like that day. What people looked like, what the buildings looked like. The English tour played on my headphones and I stood amazed at the destruction. A little bit farther there was an infant's linen diaper in a display case. The inscription below it read something along the lines of, "Young Boy's diaper, stained with blood. The young boys mother tried to carry him for help." It was donated by this woman's relative to the museum. Further through I saw building pieces, badly broken and liquified plates and dishes. Journal entries of people who reflected on their confusion--their deep fear. The people of Hiroshima had no frame of reference for what had happened. At 8:09 am there was a flash. And then a loud boom. And then 70,000-80,000 people died. The bomb had exploded 580m directly above one of the few remaining buildings, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall (now the A-Bomb Dome, pictured above), narrowly missing it's target of the nearby Aioi Bridge by 800 feet.

At this point on the tour I was becoming more and more nervous about my surroundings. I was becoming acutely aware that I am an American. I was really distraught by the loss of life and considering what mankind is capable of. I started to wonder, "What do the Japanese people around me think when they see an American walking through here?" As the fear was coming over me, something happened...

"Do you have any questions about what you're seeing?" a voice asked. I turned to my left and an elderly Japanese man was standing next to me. He was dressed as a volunteer for the museum. I honestly don't remember how I responded, or what we even talked about, but I remember his face. I was astonished at his instigation of the conversation. In the middle of my being afraid and nervous, he offered to talk. As I think back to this I'm reminded that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It was a powerful experience.

In Japan you're surrounded by so much. One of my favorite things are the people, and the culture's openness to other people and their ideas. Every Japanese home I've ever stayed in has been gracious and hospitable, as is customary with guests. As the Lord allows, and as I experience more Japanese culture. I am both more amazed and impressed and more burdened for the tiny Christian population there.

The gospel of Jesus Christ saves the oppressed. It saves those petrified with fear, and those blind to the reality that there is much darkness to be saved from. It also saves the villain. The same gospel that was being bought by Christ on the cross of Calvary is also the gospel that saves the soldier who was driving in the nail. The gospel that I so desperately desire for Japan is also the gospel that saves me. I pray that I don't lose sight of this.

2014-05-27

Distant Dads

As I become older, I realize more and more the rarity of this fact: one of the most sobering days in my life was realizing that my dad isn't perfect. I've spent my whole life looking up to him. When I realized that my dad makes mistakes I was floored. I am still awestruck with my dad, and when I was young it was no different. He was (and still would be if not for his body breaking down) a distance runner, able to control a room with his sense of humor--and clever; timely assertiveness, and constantly teaching me the truths of scripture and of faith.

The lessons and teachings came with a great degree of frequency. He always seemed to have an answer when I was hurting or acting out, and the answer always mysteriously involved Christ.  A quote that stands out to me growing up that he would tell me often was, "Who do ______ (fill in the blank with any religion, individual, institution, friend, bully, etc.) say that Jesus Christ is? That determines who they are." The constant reminder that we are all sinners, in need of grace, in need of a savior, was something I heard often--whether I liked it or not.

With the passing of Father's Day, the way my dad loved and continues to love me are reminders of the Lord's blessing on my life.

Father's Day also reminds me of one of my greatest burdens for Japan: the fatherless. The statistics are staggering. 73% of fathers reported having never or only once playing sports or participating in leisure activities with their children (source). I've had numerous conversations with people who have grown up not even knowing what their father does for a living. The culture demands such time from fathers (and mothers, if they want to have a job). High cost of living, demands of the workplace, demands from the culture all compound to create generation after generation of fatherless.

I would suggest that the pervading reason for fatherlessness in Japan is a lack of gospel influence. The very word and law that the Lord writes on our hearts and minds as believers in Jesus Christ. The truth of the knowledge that children are an inheritance from the Lord. Despite the difficulties of marriage and parenting the joy that comes in glorifying God through obedience is worth it. The example of Christ's love for the church is our example to love our wives. If there is no knowledge of truth, joy, love, and hope, what's left? One of the most comforting passages in scripture to me is Paul writing to the church in Rome:

"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells within my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Romans 7:21-25a

Life is hard. For everyone. The only deliverance and redemption of this life is through Jesus Christ.

The Lord has allowed us the opportunity to go to Japan not so we can go and teach a culture that is better, but rather share a truth that gives meaning and life. Like so many other cultures, the Japanese culture is rich, beautiful--and flawed. The good news of Jesus Christ, granting us life abundant, is our hope to see Japanese men come to a saving faith. It is in this faith that we hope to see Japanese men realizing that while their careers and friends are important, they come second to their investment in the lives of their families to the glory of God. We long to see the Lord transform Japan to be a place where the stories of so many isn't that their fathers weren't around, but that they knew nothing other than fathers pointing them to the love of our Father in heaven.

2014-04-26

A Noble Death

As Easter came and went, many of us celebrated in different ways. Some people went to church for the first time while others spent the entire Holy Week contemplating our Savior. I even heard a story of a man whose family stayed home from church each easter so that families would have seats.

If I'm honest, my mind often goes towards Japan on these holidays. A friend, Steve Sakanashi (who is doing some great work in Seattle and soon to be Tokyo, read more here) wrote a blog post last year about bushido (武士道 - a code of honor for the samurai), seppukku (切腹 - an honored death of the samurai, suicide by disembowelmentand how it relates to Christ's atoning work on the cross. While these concepts are not directly practiced today, as the day of the samurai has long passed, they live in--deeply embedded in Japanese culture in idea and belief. Please take a moment to read Steve's writing here, as it is much more impactful in context. Here is a brief excerpt:

This is where Jesus changed everything for me. He lived a perfect honorable life and yet he suffered a shameful death, willingly giving himself up to be shamed and executed, although he had done nothing wrong. I cannot help but think of his death in connection with the highest form of seppuku. He of all people had the power to escape from death at any moment, so in a way, his death was a form of suicide quite similar to Socrates.

I'm grateful for this perspective. It reminds me of Paul telling his audience at the Areopagus how pieces of their culture are but shadows of Truth (which he talks about more in the first chapter of Romans).

This Easter will come and go with the rich truth of the sacrifice of Jesus, the rich tradition of lamenting and celebrating Jesus, unknown to over 99% of the people in Japan. We long to tell people in Japan the truth of Jesus Christ. Next year, by God's grace, we will be there with our brothers and sisters telling the Good News.

2014-03-11

Rewriting The End

On September 11th, 2001 I was getting ready for work. I don't ordinarily have the TV on while getting ready but for some reason that morning I did. I turned on the news to find the north tower in flames and then I saw it--an image that will forever be etched in my mind. United Airlines Flight 175 came barreling in to the frame and collided with the south tower. In an instant I saw the final moments of 65 souls and countless others that were inside the building. Those inside the south tower were likely confused, scared, and wondering what to do, completely unaware that The End was hurdling at them at hundreds of miles per hour. In an instant everything changed.

I fell to my knees in disbelief. I couldn't stand. I couldn't believe what I'd just seen. Too weak to stand, too weak to leave for work on time. It really took a lot out of me.


The morning of March 11th, 2011 I woke up and grabbed my phone to discover dozens of text messages, missed calls and emails.

Is Hiroko's family ok?
Chad, did you hear about the earthquake? Is your family doing alright?

While we were sleeping at 1:46am the largest earthquake ever recorded hit Japan. Amidst the dozens of messages of people reaching out to us one was an email from Hiroko's father. "We're alright," he said. My in-laws were all safe and accounted for. We both got out of bed to turn on the television and what we saw caused us to be too weak to stand. We fell to our knees. We couldn't believe what we were seeing.

Tears streamed down our faces as we saw wave after wave pummel the eastern seaboard of Japan. 30 foot waves washing away everything in their path. Entire houses floating away. We saw The End of thousands of people. Who knew how many people were in those cars, in those houses. They were likely confused, scared, and wondering what to do, completely unaware that The End was hurdling at them. In an instant everything changed.

A month later we were in Japan. While not on the front lines of the rebuilding efforts, we still were able to meet and talk with many Japanese people. I was told something that stuck out to me.

In America, you have 9-11. In Japan, we now have 3-11.

We go to Japan hopeful and expectant. As the nation continues three years later to come to grips and rebuild with the tragedies that occurred, 99% of the population have never heard the gospel of Christ,. People remain scared, confused, and wondering what to do. Completely unaware that The End is coming for all of us. Perhaps at a speed with which we don't realize. 

"and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”
              Romans 15:20-21

2014-01-29

The Warmth of Christ

College is a formative time for a lot of people. In my own life it was a time of great soul searching. I had learned a lot of things in my life about faith, God, and the way the world worked (or was supposed to anyway). It was finally in college that the Lord graciously allowed a true knowledge of the gospel to sink in to my heart.

Japan is no exception to the yearning for self-expression and soul-searching that often comes with being in college as a young adult. 
Michael Oh, who founded Christ Bible Institute, articulates it well in this video that I hope you will watch (click the image below).


 
In the video you hear Michael say, "There are huge fissures; pains, and depths in youth culture that this generation is carrying with them that is contributing to a really powerful sense of hopelessness, of wondering, and identity-seeking." May the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ be shown in such marvelous power to a hopeless, wondering, identity-seeking generation. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

A recent article outlining a "Free Hugs" campaign in Japan reveals the very thing Michael talked about, particularly among young people I sincerely hope you read it as it helps to understand how to pray for Japan. In Japan, hugging in public is a big no-no. The people mentioned in the article have found strategic times to offer hugs to people and to actually receive a hug in return (during year-end holidays, weekends, etc.). One line in the article struck a chord in my heart--when the writer of the Japanese article asks the young Japanese men and women why they would offer to hug complete strangers their response is, "because we want to feel warmth".

 
The perfect; self-sacrificing love of Jesus Chris is the warm embrace needed in Japan.

Would you join us in praying for the Japanese people to experience an awakening to the gospel?


At the time of this post we are at 19% of our monthly goal for financial support. We are grateful for the Lord's provision. Would you pray about joining us financially in our ministry to Japan? You can find more information about financial support here.



2014-01-03

January Update


Japan is rich with heritage and tradition. The above picture is one of "36 Views of Mt. Fuji" painted by Hokusai, a Japanese painter who lived somewhere between the 18th and 19th century. Most people are more familiar with his painting, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" (神奈川沖浪裏).

Many aspects of Japanese culture have withstood the test of time in ways that cause intrigue and wonder in the western world. This really does set Japan apart from a lot of other places. Terms like "J-pop" (referring to Japanese pop music) or Anime (referring to Japanese-style animation) are Japanese-specific exports. If you've taken business classes at a university, you've likely studied detailed structure, practices and policies that shape Japan's dominant workforce that boasts a $5.92 trillion GDP.

As Hiroko and I pray and work towards getting to Japan we find ourselves more and more hopeful that Japan will finally see an awakening towards the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are a couple of reasons:

  • The bible. Jesus tells Peter that he will build his church (Matthew 16). In addition to other points in scripture Revelation 7 has been powerful for our family. A picture of every nation, tribe, and language worshiping God in heaven for eternity.
  • God is supremely interested in His glory to the ends of the earth. Much has been written on this. Here is an article from Desiring God on the subject I would encourage you to read.
God will accomplish his mission. He will! Japan will know Christ and be reached with the gospel. Our hope is that Japan will be a country that uses its rich history and culture to send laborers in to the harvest. We are hopeful and prayerful that it is in our lifetime.
 
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
Matthew 9:27-28

2013-12-05

Christmas in Japan


I came across the above video a couple of days ago. Please watch it. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how many people in Japan have never heard this message and how in my own heart it's so easy to become accustomed to "knowing" it. 1 Corinthians 15 says that the gospel message is of first importance. Right now, 99% of Japan hasn't heard the most important message that the world has ever received. Hiroko and I are more excited and anxious than ever to begin our support raising full-time to prepare to go.

If you're a parent or around children during the holidays you can perhaps relate to this: as our family grows and as Christmas approaches, the season starts to bring along with it a bit of wonderment I haven't felt in a while. It's easy to get lost in the busyness and to-do lists that often surround this year. Due to the busy nature of the holidays it's important be intentional to remind ourselves as believers in Jesus Christ the depth, weight, and unfathomable cost paid for us. With Amilia in the house I'm starting to see a bit of a glimmer in her eyes as she looks at the tree (and babbles something I pretend to understand). I'm reminded of what this time of year meant to me as a child. My family would be together, my dad would read out of Luke chapter 2, and (if I was lucky) there would be a freshly wrapped Sega Genesis below the tree. There is an awe that I pray comes to her mind this time of year as she grows that also brings to mind: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

An area that I keep coming back to in my prayers for Japan is the family. I've mentioned it before to you--families are dwindling in Japan. Do a Google search for "Japan population crisis" and there is a myriad of data to support the changing landscape of families in Japan. Along these lines, a coworker pointed out this article to me yesterday. Twenty percent of Japan's population (in excess of 125 million) is over the age of 65. Christmas in Japan is not a family holiday, but New Year's Day is. Would you pray for Japan? Would you pray that the Holy Spirit would save and that families would form that cherish, love, and understand the love of Christ.

Hiroko and I would like to take an opportunity in this newsletter to thank you. Thank you for your encouragement, your prayers, and your support. Our goal is to be on the ground and settled in Japan by October of 2014. Beginning in February I will be leaving my full-time job at The Village Church and embarking to full-time support raising. This season of celebrating family, friends, and the birth of our Savior is marked by gifts. Would you prayerfully consider a gift to our ministry? Contributions can be made through Great Commission Ministries. Our desire is to be above reproach in our lives and our ministry, and it is in that spirit that you are welcome to check at any time our financial progress and goal here.