Dear brothers and sisters,
Praise the Lord for blessing us this month with more opportunities to share the Gospel even though in Japan Christmas is just see seen as another commercial event like Valentines or Halloween.
In this culturally hermetic and enslaving work orientated society, it is a miracle to have someone give honest attention to the Gospel message. It is very difficult to get past their mastered social politeness that keeps everything superficial (“tatemae"); that social practice lubricates social interactions but also filters their attention and encapsulates them to ignore any serious or uncomfortable talk, specifically from foreigners, the "gaijin”. Praise the Lord, however, that Japan at least recognizes the word Christmas, which gives us the chance to get the attention for the Gospel that we will not have during other months of the year.
In Japan we praise the Lord for every salvation and each baptism because the reality of this land is to see one person during the month conceding time and sincerely listening without a social shield is a reason to praise God. Please help us by praying for us to never take for granted any time the Lord brings a person and concedes time and attention to hear our Lord's Gospel. That event in many places is a miracle.
We have heard about a church closing in Japan. Churches are closing more frequently here because elderly congregations have not seen their faith ignited in the next generations. The average age of Japanese pastors and their congregations are 65. Please pray for our Lord's mercy to grant us more miracles through our service for the growing and strengthening faith of our next generation in Japan.
Praise God because during this time, we can see more visitors attending our church and bible studies, listening God's Word. Please pray we will share God's word clearly and we will not waste the chances to share principally God's Gospel.
Praise the Lord our new believers are growing. Two young men were baptized this year and now they are getting trained in sharing God's word with children. Please pray so our Lord will fill them with joy and passion to continue sharing in our Lord's Word in different languages.
Our church was reminded by God through Ephesians 2 that before enjoying the lights, family meals, decorations, photos, and visible celebrations, to take a time in private to pray remembering Ephesians 2: we were dead and futile, sons of disobedience, children of wrath, God's enemies, and now we dare to use the name of our Lord Christ on our celebrations because he bled and died for our sin, shame and guilt. We were reminded to humble ourselves in the private before the visible celebration so our worship will not be compulsive but will be a joyful uncontainable proclamation and reality that we celebrate Christmas because we were dead and now through Christ we have eternal life.
Thank you always for holding the rope with your prayers and support. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Luis, Nicola, Rohan, Lorien & Erendir (Tokyo-Japan)