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Nations Opening The Wells Wellingborough
February 15 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
An event every day that begins at 8:00 am, repeating indefinitely
Nations Trust Opening The Wells
The Land of the Cherry Blossom: July/August 2019
I had a wonderful trip to Japan, meeting friends old and new, attending the Celebration and understanding more about the spiritual needs of this nation. Arriving in Nara on the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) I was met by Min Jae and Naomi, a young Korean couple who trained with us in 2014, and who recently had their first baby.
Nara has a long history as a spiritual and cultural centre of Japan with Christ Church, built in 1887, the oldest church in the city, exhibiting a rare blend of Japanesque style and traditional church architecture.
On Sunday I attended the service at Yamato Christian Church where Naomi works as an assistant to the minister. There were about 120 people present although the vast majority were over the age of 60. Among the 10 young people present I shared with the two teenagers. This is a large church in Japan, where the average sized congregation is 35, and as the older members die they are not replaced by the younger generation. This seems to be representative of the church throughout
I visited Kyushu, the closest island to Korea, to meet a young English lady named Jesse who had made contact with Nations in June. Jesse and her husband James have lived in Japan for four years and have a two and a half year old son named Isaac. When they moved to Japan, they were not conscious of God’s plan for them in that country. However, God has given them a love for the Japanese, and Jesse is on a journey in prayer for the people and places of Japan. Ise Jingu was an interesting place. It has 125 Shinto shrines centred around the main shrine dedicated to Amaterasu- omikami the ancestral deity of the Imperial family. Here, over 1500 annual rituals are conducted to pray for the prosperity of the Imperial family and the peace of the world.
This November the new Emperor Naruhito is due to visit for the third and most important inauguration ritual, in which the Emperor is united to the sun-goddess Amaterasu, in such a way as to share in a unique way in her divinity. Hirohito was made to reject the claim to divinity following the end of the Second World War and the next seven years saw significant church growth in Japan, the “Seven Wonderful Years”. People of all ages were queueing up to bow to the shrine of Amaterasu-omikami, many in family groups, and often young couples will visit shrines during their courting days. I travelled to Yokohama for the ‘Celebration for the Nations’ and detoured via Hiroshima, where I saw the place where the first atomic bomb landed on 6 August 1945, resulting in a death toll of 140 000 people. Sobering.
This year’s ‘Celebration for the Nations’ was in Japan with participating groups from Japan, China, the Philippines and Brazil, although the majority of groups came from Korea. There is a reluctance among Japanese to commit to something unknown, but the highlight was the group made up of Japanese, Chinese and Koreans worshipping together – there was a strong sense of unity in Christ contrasting greatly with the current political disunity, particularly between Japan and Korea. Visiting locals greatly appreciated the fact that people from other countries were praying for Japan and actively engaging in ways of supporting the Japanese church in outreach to the nation. One lamented the fact that the Japanese church was very inward looking, with little or no interest beyond its borders or even its parish. I went to Yokohama Kaigan Kyokai (Church), the first Protestant Church for the Japanese, founded in 1872. When the church was first established, Christianity was banned by the government and was virtually unknown to most Japanese. However weekly worship has been maintained from the beginning and even during the Second World War when Christians were put under severe suppression and persecution. A total number of 6000 Japanese people have been baptized in the church since 1872. I travelled to meet old friends Hugh and Heather Nelson who work with our sister mission World Horizons and moved to Japan in 1994. During their early years they adopted two Japanese boys, Tomo and Jun, who are now at University and High School respectively. Eighteen years ago they replanted a church in the rural area of Nirayama which has grown to around 20 members, and more recently a second church. When the boys were small Heather started her ‘Happy Clubs’, an English class for children which always finishes with a Bible story. They proved very popular and she now runs 9 such clubs each week reaching over 100 children and the seeds have been sown over many years. When Tomo and Jun were young they were the only children in their school with any Christian connection, but now in the local school there are children in each year group who are receiving Christian input through these Clubs. Hannah, through World Horizons, joined Hugh and Heather some fifteen years ago. She has since married a Chinese believer and they have a young son, she now leads a ‘mums and toddlers’ group in the church. I spoke in both their churches on Sunday and joined them for their monthly prayer journey through unreached towns and villages.
There is a Japanese proverb, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered home” meaning that it is hard to be different and that any deviation is met with resistance. “Historically , Japanese identity is strictly tied to Shintoism, and formal disassociation from this connection is very difficult in a land where conformity rules” (Operation World).
A picture of an average Japanese Protestant church could be a 60 year old minister, 70 members and 35 Sunday service attendees (25 women and 10 men, with 18 of them over 60 years old and only 2 of them under 30 years). Japan is open to mission work and missionary visas are available, yet the mission force in Japan has decreased by 47% in the last 30 years.
The Lee Family
As a family we have entered a new season, we are not training young people for mission or serving a local church in a leadership team as we have done this past few years. Now we’re preparing ourselves for our next season to send more people to the mission field and to build up various kinds of new ministries, one of which would be probably connecting medicine to mission. In this season, Viviane and I are separated in terms of location for three years. After fifteen years out of practice, I am working as a specialist trainee in a Christian hospital in South Korea as a resident doctor in the internal medicine department. My position in the hospital demands harsh working hours from me, such as ongoing 36-hours on call several times a week, during which I have to deal with many critical patients and take heavy responsibility for sensitive decisions. It would have been difficult for our children, all born and brought up in the UK, to go into the Korean education system suddenly, so Viviane and I have opted for this hard decision. Viviane has become a temporary ‘single mum’ looking after three demanding children, taking them here and there on school runs and their extracurricular activities, driving our old family car. Moreover, she is trying very hard to maintain her ministry of discipling new Christian friends through Bible study groups and prayer meetings.
I believe God prepared us for this new season through so much trouble and problems in recent years, so that we could break out of our old mindset in order to have a brand new understanding of God 's guidance for our new season. At first we thought this kind of hard work would be way beyond our capacities but by the grace of God, we have been not only surviving but thriving as we have been growing into new capacities. Also our three children have been doing so well in spite of their father 's absence. In fact, they have made more efforts to ease their mom 's hardship and have become more mature. We have been doing well under His grace and mercy. Praise God. Surely, Viviane and I are facing many challenges every day at the moment, but I trust in God who has led us into this new season for His divine purpose. One day, I was told by a North Korean defector who had survived a harsh labour camp that it was Hope that gave her a great strength to overcome extreme challenges, which I fully agree with. I have a hope, which is another form of prayer, that we will be able to serve Him in a better way, after all these hardships we are going through now.
Please pray for continual growth of our Ehad teams who serve God in various places. Also please pray for a new birth of further development of our ministries with new dynamics. I believe that after each team has spent some years in different cultures and works, we will eventually be able to create a new momentum when we find a right time for closer cooperation with one another.
Thank you so much for your prayers and blessings.
Timothy and Viviane
A few months back I had a great visit from members from my local church in the UK, it encouraged me to prepare for my next season here. I had quite a busy first half of the year doing my online Master’s course, teaching language, and sharing the Gospel with some local friends. Since the summer, I have had a break from work and this helped me to focus more on learning the local language. I had a good rest and visited a few famous local places with friends to be refreshed.
I am still teaching Korean language in a private centre which has three other teachers, I myself have eight young students who are between 14 to 17 years old. As a foreigner, It is a pleasure to see the young students are enthusiastic for foreign language and culture. I hope this would be a bridge to share the Good News to many young students. The couple that are my co-workers are now staying in Korea for about three months preparing for their first baby. They had prayed for a long time to have a baby and thankfully God has heard their prayers. Please pray for them and the baby to be healthy and protected from any danger. God has let me have a strong friendship with two local friends. A and M who is a friend of A. Originally A and I would read the Bible but now as we three normally meet together, me and A don’t read regularly. But whenever we all spend time together, we discuss different subjects about Gospel and Jesus. They don’t treat me like a spy anymore but understand how important it is for me to talk about Gospel as a Christian. I am very thankful to God that I can freely talk to them about it. I am learning how important it is to establish trust to share the Gospel in an Islamic country. The time with A and M helps me to be ready for preaching the Good news wisely. Please pray for those two local friends to open their heart and for me to be trained more for His purpose. Please pray for the Word to lead me day by day, my progress in learning the local language and for my family back in Korea.
Central African Republic (CAR) : the gates of hell shall not prevail
While the political and security situation remains as dire as ever, with ongoing fighting between rival militia groups and the central government in disarray, the Nations en Marche (NeM) movement steadily continues its outreach and ministry to many in need. In the words of its founder,
Pastor A, “preaching the word that brings healing, in a country where everything has been reduced to ruins”.
NeM’s annual conference for Pygmy converts, many of them now missionaries to their own people in the forest areas, was held in June, with the theme “I will build my Church”. As was also the case at last year’s conference, Community Economic Development, as A refers to it, was the focus of the teaching and training sessions held. Small agro-pastoral projects have been set up as a means of helping some Christian families and communities among the Pygmies to regain a measure of economic self-sufficiency, following the destruction of fields and crops in the course of the violence of the last several years.
LESOTHO to THAILAND : “God of the mountain is still God in the valley”.
Those words were written by Pastor Ntai Pheko after suffering a back injury resulting from a serious fall while alone on his latest visit to Thailand, in July this year. Ntai and his wife Mabakoena, both from the kingdom of Lesotho in southern Africa, are founders of the indigenous
Operation Up (OpUp) mission movement there. In 2015, after OpUp had actively engaged for 25 years in church-planting and the schooling and discipling of children and young people in hard, unreached mountainous areas of Lesotho, Ntai was on a training programme in Thailand. During that time he sensed increasingly clear that God was calling missionaries from Lesotho to work there and possibly in other Buddhist countries too.
The object of this summer’s visit was, he wrote, to “finalise preparations for the launch of a short-term missions outreach with a group of young people due to take place in Jan./Feb. 2020”. It promises to be a hugely significant and unprecedented experience for all concerned. Ntai is back in Lesotho now, continuing to recover. He would welcome prayer for God’s power to rest on weakness, for provision and for successful recruiting and preparation for the outreach in Thailand.
Our recent prayer for Ntai has been for breakthrough in recruiting for this short-term mission
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