Dear brothers and sisters,
Praise the Lord for giving us in 2015 Himself as our God, Master, and Friend. He is the vine and we are the blessed branches; He is the only Shepherd and we are the thirsty sheep; we are lost in ourselves but complete in Him (Col. 2:10).
We would like to share some of the blessings of what our precious Christ poured out this past year into our small congregation in Tokyo so you can join us in praise for our Lord's kindness, faithfulness, love, and undeserving grace. Praise the name of our Father!
In 2015 our Lord blessed us with a heart and passion to be strengthened through our Bible studies. We have grown in number and our sisters and brothers are receiving training in leading Bible studies. We are studying doctrinal foundations in our discipleship study groups.
Praise the Lord as He blessed us with a baptism in 2015. A Peruvian lady was involved for many years in the Jehovah Witnesses, but after many months of studying God's her eyes were opened to the light and power of the true Gospel. The Lord transformed her life and revealed the false religion she was enslaved in and gave her a desire for holiness and a heart to serve our Lord. Now our sister is planning outreaches with other sisters and sharing the Gospel.
Praise the Lord also for blessing us with the opportunity of working all year and learning about missions and thinking about the needs of the poor for the Gospel and practical help. We collaborated with Samaritan's Purse Ministries in their program Operation Christmas. It consists in delivering Christmas presents through local churches to children who live in extreme poverty and creating the opportunity to share the Gospel with them and their families. This year we quadrupled our effort and we were able to send 100 boxes. We were blessed to pray for the children each month and for the churches in Philippines who were going to share the message of Christ with their communities. We also had our first mission trips with the adults and children, taking the boxes to the collection centers and working with other brothers in the packing and checking of the boxes before the boxes were shipped to the Philipines.
Too, we didn't have a building to congregate in regularly each week so we had to find a room to rent or congregate in a park if the weather was pleasant. However, though we had no permanent location, the Lord blessed our congregation with more commitment to Christ and one another, our faith was strengthened, and the sacrifice helped all of us to double check and be clear about what it means to be a church and a real follower of Christ. We could be discouraged or tired because of carrying our many children from one place to another, but we believe we grew spiritually this year more than in previous years. Too, God produced more solid Bible studies in restaurants and homes for us and more evangelistic efforts; our children learned the importance of worshiping our Lord Jesus; we completed our first short-term mission trip; we made our first effort at working together as a church in the sending of goods to poor people; and the Lord raised up more men and woman to lead different ministries of the church.
The Lord blessed me also with the opportunity to help in counseling and preaching to three other American and Japanese churches who are without a pastor. I have been preaching three times a day on some of the Sundays and helping them with pray meetings and assisting with counsel as they look for a pastor. Praise the Lord that the He is upholding His people and He is blessing these churches in many ways.
Praise God for blessing our men's Bible study and the building up of men who preach the Gospel and preach the messages on the Sundays that I had to travel. The Lord is the only indispensable One; we are His sheep with different roles, but the church is His church and He is the one who sustains it. Praise the Lord that He has promised to help us in the challenges that we face and the joyful blessings that we anticipate while we worship him and serve him in Japan.
Please pray for us to also build a strong English speaking Bible study while we continue to see American believers join our congregation. Also, pray for the Japanese people who are listening to the Gospel through our church and that they soon we will have also a strong Japanese Bible study.
Please pray that the Lord will give us clear guidance and provide for us according to His will and His timing for the building that we need. Please continue praising God because we exist as a congregation because of His grace, His favor, and His love. We do not deserve any of the things that He has given to us and we should be grateful and joyful becauseof the eternal life that we already have with him.
All glory to our Lord and God Jesus!
In Him, Luis