These somewhat late December greetings come your way with our prayer….that you would all experience “Immanuel” – God with us! – in a new way during this Advent and Christmas season.
Thanks for your prayer work on our behalf over the last few weeks. As with all of you, we are in the midst of our Christmas programming, attempting to share the good news of Jesus with as many folks as possible. In the past we’ve included a list of all of those programs for prayer….but this time we will simply highlight three items for celebration and continued prayer:
Three Baptisms this Sunday
At our Christmas worship this coming Sunday on the 20th we have the joy of celebrating baptism for three young people – Shinsuke and Ryo, both 7th grade boys, and our daughter Lilla, 11. Everyone’s excited. Ryo and Lilla both felt a desire to be baptized following a meaningful week at Bible camp last summer. Shinsuke, the son of one of our members, also met Jesus last Spring through a series of difficult events in his life. All 3 have been studying and preparing their testimonies of faith that they will share with all of us during the worship service. As you rejoice with us, please remember them all in prayer as we continue to lead them through a process of training and discipleship.
Isesaki Church News
Following worship this past Sunday (13th) our believers met for their monthly time of discussion and decision making. I (Tim) was not there as I was helping with a children’s outreach in Shibukawa that afternoon but Pastor Kogure and Andrea met with our folks. A decision was made that from next April we will move out of the space that we have rented for over 20 years and begin sharing a facility with the Point Gospel Brazilian Church that we have mentioned previously in our newsletters. The surprising thing is that the topic of “moving” was certainly not on the agenda or “radar screen” for any of us this month….there were plenty of other areas having to do with this Christmas season and programming that needed attention. Yet, God seemed to move the discussion in that direction. It was over a year ago that we first began our relationship with this Brazilian congregation. During this past year we have cooperated in a few small areas and continued to think about possibilities. The decision on Sunday was both a bit surprising and also very exciting. It may not be a permanent move but for the time being it seems so normal that the only 2 congregations south of the Hirose River in Isesaki should join together and combine our resources in order to better share this good news of Christ in our city. As you can imagine, there is some anxiety. How will we share space? How does this affect our own identity? How will we be able to communicate? (None of us speak both Japanese and Portuguese). But there was an unusual confidence on Sunday that for NOW, this is right. The Brazilian Church worships on Saturday and Sunday evenings and we worship on Sunday mornings. Those schedules will continue so we will have our own worship times as well as joining together during the week. Please pray for God’s enormous blessing and protection as both congregations make adjustments. It’s been really exciting to think about during the past couple days….
Our Upcoming Home Assignment
We had been planning to take a 4 month home assignment in the United States from April until August of 2010 but many things have happened to move that schedule up a bit. Our present plan is to move out of the house we are living in by January 31. Tim will head back to the U.S. on around Feb. 1 with Andrea and the children following later in the month. Although February and March are a bit up in the air, we hope to settle in to a home in Geneva, IL by April 1. Andrea’s sister and her husband have kindly offered a home for us to stay in temporarily which is next door to their own home. The children will enter school in Geneva for a couple months. We will be doing our best to visit as many of our supporting churches as possible. If you are one of those churches and you would like to arrange a visit for us to your church, we urge you to get in touch with Barbara Fisk at our ECC headquarters as soon as possible: email@example.com Barbara helps us coordinate our schedules and visits and she is great to work with. (Of course, you can feel free to contact us directly as well and we will do our best to help with planning.) As you can imagine, there is a bit of anxiety for our family as we once again plan to move all our stuff into storage, head back to the States for 6 months, get the children into American schools, and attempt to set up some kind of household for a few months. I guess it can sound exciting from one angle….but at our age the “adventure” side of things can sometimes sort of fade into tired sighs and a bit of anxiety! I wonder if Abraham, who was so praised for his faith, ever sighed while taking down his tent and moving the cattle one more time?? God is so good to us. Thanks for your prayers! We’ll keep you informed as things become more clear.
The Short List for the Fridge
- Christmas Outreach
- For the 3 young people being baptized this Sunday
- For the Isesaki Church as they prepare for transition
- Our home assignment (housing, travel plans, church visits, children’s schooling)
Your partners in prayer and mission,
Tim & Andrea Johnson
Sam, Lilla & Sky