Another Quake

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Tidal surge seen in Miyagi prefecture from the 11-21-2016 earthquake. photo: Reuters

I was 4 years old. Everything was shaking. Books crashing off shelves, lights swaying, we ran out of our house as the ground quaked. This is my first memory of earthquakes in Japan, a fairly normal part of life. Just yesterday Japan made the news for a 6.9 magnitude quake off the Eastern coast. Only a few were hurt, but I’m reminded of the devastating 9.0 quake and tsunami in 2011 that rocked the nation, and levelled entire towns.

Since the 2011 disaster, Japan has reported an earthquake at 7.0 magnitude every year. Many scientists believe that Japan is still overdue for another monstrous earthquake, this time closer to Tokyo like the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. We don’t know what will happen. But we do know someday a shaking of another kind is coming to the whole earth. Christ will return! And will the Japanese have turned their hearts to worship him? We pray earnestly for this.

Updates:

  • Pledge Update: 33% Pledged. Partnership meetings continue to go very well. We are praying and working hard to exceed 50% by the end of the year; failing to meet this hurdle will probably mean extending our leave date to July. We are on track to make the goal, but please pray!
  • Family update: Rowan is very excited about his birthday coming up in December; he’s decided he wants a ninja party, which sounds awesome.
  • Prayer update: Please continue to pray for God to provide for our financial support! If you have a favorite scripture regarding God’s providence, please text/e-mail to me. It would be wonderful to hear from you and reflect on God’s truth together.

Thankful for you all,

Patrick & Ellen

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Where are you Going? Yokohama.

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Lights blazing, a Ferris wheel towers over the city at 369 feet tall. Cramming almost 500 riders, it’s the highest occupancy Ferris wheel in the world. Yokohama is a beautiful, modern, and international port city. With almost 3.7 million residents of it’s own, it’s often thought of as a suburb in Greater Tokyo, though certainly not “suburban” by any means. And yep, if you’re wondering, this is where Yokohama tires come from.

yokohama-map-smallerWhat else should you know about this place? Well, Ellen and I like to think of it as the city of firsts. Gas lamps first came here, baseball, western fashion, photography, and the first ice  cream shop (they literally shipped blocks of ice from Hokkaido — that’s commitment). More importantly, the first indigenous planted Japanese church started here in 1872, and the Bible was first translated here also.

We are excited to reach out to a city with such a rich history. Pray for the light of the gospel to burn brightly in Yokohama.

Some updates:

  • Pledge update: 31%. No new “official” pledges this past week, but we have a few supporters coming on board this week. We are so blessed by a young family (our age) with 5 kids that decided to partner with us generously, thank you!
  • Family update: Ellen is swamped working on her book right now. She has 2 weeks to finish some major revisions on her book and get them back to her editor.
  • Prayer update: Pray for Ellen that God would give her the inspiration, creativity, and time she needs to finish the work on her book. This a huge part of her life calling, and could open a number of doors for her in ministry in Japan.
  • Praise: My trip to Houston was an incredibly fruitful one. From 6am – 10pm, there was no more than 10 minutes in between meetings with potential partners and friends. Truly it was a blast, but I’m pretty wiped!

 

Patrick & Ellen

God Has Plans

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Photo via Shutterstock

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
   he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
   the plans of his heart to all generations.

Psalm 33:10 – 11

I’ve been greatly comforted by this passage over the last few days. In the midst of partnership development more than once I’ve asked myself, is God really going to see us through? Surely He has called us, but are his plans really trustworthy? Perhaps God may change his mind — there are certainly more qualified missionaries he could send.

At 31% pledged support, being fully pledged by the end of February seems vastly uncertain. But since He has called us, we can choose to trust his plans and timing. And we will. This seems especially relevant in the midst of our nation’s elections. Even as I type, the results are coming in. Who will win? Who knows. Instead we should ask, in whom will we trust?

Let our hope always be in Christ. He is the only steadfast and reliable one.

Updates:

  • Pledge Update: 31% pledged.
  • Family Update: If you hadn’t heard already, our smaller car was totalled recently, so we’re a one-car-family now. So far we’ve adjusted pretty well.
  • Prayer Update: Praise! Last week I asked you to pray for people to support us by watching our children during partnership meetings and that prayer has been answered through a faithful young lady, Christa, and through a spectacular couple, Kyle & Jen. We are so blessed to have these partners loving our children. Thank you!!

Patrick & Ellen.

Where is the Church?

OMF Japan

Satsunae Lighthouse Church in Hokkaido, Japan – this was my home for over 7 years.

I think if I had ever seen a church in Japan, I would be a Christian today. It’s too late for me now. – Yuri, College Station, TX

I still get chills when I consider Yuri’s remark. How could she have never come in contact with a church her entire 28+ years in Japan? This is exactly why we are headed to Japan — they have almost no access to the gospel.

The church in Japan is beautiful, but small and fragile. Beautiful, because the Lord delights in the faithfulness of his saints, but fragile because they are vastly outnumbered. According to OC research in 29 out of 47 prefectures (like states), over 50% of the towns do not have a single church. Not one. On top of that, over 70% of churches in Japan that do exist, have less than 30 members.*

Since Yuri has been in the US, she has been invited to numerous churches, and set foot in more than five. Would she have had this opportunity in Japan? Please pray for the church in Japan to grow in faith and number, and shine brightly into the 99% non-Christian nation around them.

A Few Updates

  • Pledge Update: We are at 30% pledged. I want to give a special thanks to a very generous anonymous partner out there. We are touched and amazed by your kindness.
  • Family Update: Yesterday Ellen won a writing contest called “Pitch to Pub!” She will be working intensively with an editor for the next five weeks revising her novel, The Water Child. Hopefully she will soon have a few offers from the 8+ agents who requested her manuscript.
  • Prayer Update: We need rest. Pray that we will guard Saturday as a family Sabbath. Also, please pray for Yuri, that she would come to know the Lord.

Overjoyed at the thought of encouraging the Japanese church next year,

Patrick & Ellen

*If you’re wondering, this figure isn’t due to church structure as most churches are traditional, not house churches