March 2009 Monthly Prayer Bulletin

(photo: Above is a group shot of all those who participated in the Asia Covenant Missionary retreat and conference that took place in Chantaburi, Thailand from February 15-19, 2009.)

Dear Prayer Partners,

Hard to believe we are already into March. Again, please accept our deep thanks and gratitude for your prayer work on our behalf. February was a full month for us with many happenings and blessings. Here’s a brief report before we offer some new items for prayer consideration in March.


A brief report for those of you who used our prayer bulletin last month:

  • Andrea has been able to get in all her final grades for her teaching at the Gunma Prefectural Women’s University. She now has a bit of a break from that work until the new school year begins in April.
  • Our collaborative worship service with the Brazilian Church on Jan. 25th was great. See further details below.
  • Our all-Asia Covenant Missionary retreat in Chantaburi, Thailand from Feb. 15th to 19th was excellent. About 75 of us participated. We enjoyed times of worship and prayer, heard some excellent reports around the theme of “transformational development”, had a chance to get reacquainted with many colleagues and also meet some for the first time…and got a couple chances to just play. While Sam and Sky struggled a bit with colds while we were there, we enjoyed the warm climate and returned challenged and inspired. (see photos here)


Among the many areas where we could use prayer, we are choosing just two topics to focus on this month:

  1. Connection with the Brazilian Church – As we mentioned last month there is a Brazilian Church (including some folks from other South American countries as well) which meets fairly close to us here in south Isesaki. (They are part of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Brazil and they refer to themselves as “Point Gospel”.)  Over the years we have had occasional contacts but recently we have had several connections that are bringing us into closer fellowship. Along with these human connections and relationships we also have needs that seem to be bringing us together. Our church has been looking for a better / larger space for several years now. We rent a very small apartment for our gatherings which at times seems adequate…but at other times is very limiting. The Point Gospel Church has offered to share their space with us. While we are not considering that option in the immediate future, we are moved by their generous offer and it may become a reality a bit further down the road. Point Gospel, on the other hand,  experiences many of the difficulties of any immigrant church, one of which is reaching their own children with the gospel as primary and secondary languages become an issue. Most of their children have been born in Japan and are attending Japanese schools. While their children and youth understand and use Portuguese it is clear that Japanese is their primary language.  The Point Gospel Church has also been instrumental in leading several Japanese into a relationship with Jesus Christ but now find that they don’t have the necessary language skills to really train them or encourage them further. This is where we come into the equation. We have been asked to help with reaching out to their youth and these Japanese folks through a twice monthly gathering on Sunday afternoons.  We met together twice in January and twice in February. Our times together are done completely in Japanese (since we speak zero Portuguese!). Our request is that you would simply pray for us in this cooperation. The Brazilian pastor speaks no Japanese or English and we speak no Portuguese so it is a lot of laughs and confusion as we work through interpreters of various skill levels. Isn’t God unusual and surprising?!  We are bringing some needed Japanese language and cultural skills to them….and they in turn are bringing some much needed new life, freedom / confusion, and wonderful Brazilian spiritual energy to us. “May God’s Kingdom Come”… in even more reality through all of us here in south Isesaki. In March we will be meeting with them on March 8th and 22nd (the 2nd and 4th Sundays)
  2. Gunma Harvest – The vast majority of Gunma Prefecture’s 2 million residents live in 12 cities on the flat area which makes up the northwest part of what we call the Kanto plains, a large plain stretching out in all directions from Tokyo bay.  However, the majority of our land area here in Gunma is mountainous and is the home for about 50 towns and villages. In the past few years there has been a great deal of political and geographic consolidating of towns and villages all over Japan. Here in Gunma – as of May, 2009 when the last consolidation of municipalities goes into effect – we will be 12 cities, 16 towns and 9 villages. But while the boundaries change and the actual numbers of municipalities decreases, the reality of about 50 towns and villages throughout the mountains of Gunma remains pretty much the same.

Over the past few years we have tried to pray for these areas, most of which have no church or Christian witness. We have done a bit of research, trying to understand where churches presently are located and looking at the areas where a Christian witness may be most absent or lacking. In the next couple months we will be putting some details, maps, photos and prayer requests on our website that we hope will help you be better informed and allow you to pray more specifically with us about the harvest fields here in Gunma. Our present work with Gunma Harvest involves these areas:

    • study / research – learning about the various rural areas, gathering data from the Gunma Prefectural website; beginning to network with other churches and individuals
    • prayer – praying to the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers for this work, praying for disciples in each of these villages that would develop into worshipping groups
    • First Steps – in the three villages of Uenomura, Kanna and Nanmoku which are very remote and quite a distance from us we have been visiting homes and distributing tracts and other literature. In one village which is much closer to our present cluster of 5 churches – Shintomura – we have been starting to meet monthly for worship and are planning for some additional outreach beginning in May.


  1. Our Connection with the Point Gospel Church
  2. Our Gunma Harvest Work

Well, our normally “sort of brief” bulletin has gotten pretty wordy this month but thank you for reading….and then for praying. We are humbled and honored to be serving along side of you in this way.

Your partners in prayer and mission,

Tim & Andrea Johnson

Sam, Lilla & Sky

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