Monday, August 28, 2006
(Photos courtesy e3missions)
No surprise as there are 14 new faces -- 12 Bible College students and 2 staff. The students will be here for about 4 months studying God's Word, doing ministry, and experiencing Okinawa.
(Debe helps with Orientation)
Please pray for these students as they study hard. It is exciting to be in a new place, but it can also be challenging at times.
We are blessed that you all are here!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
In this photo, it costs 141 yen for a liter.
That's about $5.25 for a gallon!
The actual average price hit 144 yen yesterday. For some reason, Okinawa is a little bit cheaper: 130 ~ 135 yen.
I remember 3 years ago: gas could be purchased for 87 yen a liter.
I guess since Japan has no natural resources, that is part of the reason everything costs more here.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
We are excited to have an addition to our family, as well as a sibling for Emi.
Right now it looks rather like a kidney bean. But we like beans.
We are looking forward to seeing him/her grow and develop each day.
Maybe God looks at us that way too? Looking at us daily, seeing how much we have grown; thinking about what we will become?
We would appreciate your prayers as we (well, Debe mostly) go through this time.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Today is the start of Obon in Okinawa -- it is earlier than the rest of Japan (August 13), because they follow the Chinese calendar here.
This 3 day event goes back centuries. This is when people will travel home so they can "welcome" back their ancestral spirits. They will pray to them for forgiveness of any wrongs and for protection during the next year. On the last day there is a ceremony to send off the spirits for another year.
It is sad to see how much effort and commitment is put into Obon -- most people do this out of tradition and/or obligation. Yet people will not take having a relationship with the one true God seriously.
Perhaps times are changing: many of my adult English students are younger and do not want the responsibility of caring for the family altar.
Perhaps God will use this generation to change Japan's priorities.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
they help to make sense of things.
They give you a number, a percentage, something you can grasp.
One example is Christianity in Okinawa. There are many churches on the island. You can see several crosses in the skyline and almost every town has at least one church -- a stark contrast to some areas in Japan.
In fact, many Churches and Mission groups leave or avoid Okinawa due to it's being "over-churched."
Yet when you look a little deeper, you see a different story. While the 3% Christians in Okinawa is a lot more than the 0.7% nationwide, we prefer to focus on the 97% that are not yet Christian.
And the large number of churches? Well, when you subtract the ones that don't teach the truth that number drops a bit.
Subtract too the ones that minister only to the military too, since the stats are measuring the locals.
What is left is a handful of good churches that God is using.
Here are some sobering statistics:
- Japan has the highest suicide rates of any industrialized country. About 650 people kill themselves each week.
- Almost 1/3 of Japanese women have had at least one abortion, many as teenagers.
- Japan has a "negative birth rate" -- that is, more people die each year than are born.
- Mental Disorders have doubled in the past 5 years -- 4 times as many as 10 years ago.
- Most Japanese don't adhere to any one "religion." Some will claim Buddhist or Shinto beliefs, but they don't really practice.
For a country that has much to "brag" about (2nd largest GDP, national health care, one of the "most-liked" countries), there is for many, a dissatisfaction or emptiness.
As Christians, we are free to loudly proclaim that we have the answer to all their problems -- Jesus Christ.This is why God brought us to Japan. Our prayer is that He will use us to reach local Okinawans and anyone else that comes in our path.
Please pray with us that God's Spirit would continue to guide these churches. That the Japanese people would give up their pride and nationalism and turn to the only one who can meet their needs!