Church in Japan is an all day thing!  It was the second day of VBS at the Wakaba mission.  VBS was during the Sunday school hour.  Tim was able to serve by playing the guitar again and I was able to do face painting for the children.  Amy gave the lesson this morning about how sheep are dirty and unimportant and need to be led however Jesus calls us his sheep and is the good shepherd and cares about each one of us.  We are very valuable in God’s sight.  In Japan everyone is pressured to conform and the Japanese don’t feel very special.  Today we had six children at VBS as well but other than the three Smith children the other three were different children than on Saturday.

In Sunday morning service Jim gave the sermon in Japanese about how God is good.  A lady sat with Tim and me to translate the sermon and prayers for us.  It is fairly uncommon to find good English speaking Japanese.  However at Wakaba there are several people who speak English really well.  We were able to talk to a few people there. We split up into groups of two for a time of prayer.  Their church family was very welcoming and excited to see us, they had been praying for us for a couple of weeks.

After morning service, lunch is prepared in the church kitchen and then served.  Almost everyone stays until after lunch.  Most people at Wakaba travel by train or bicycle and would be a long trip home on an empty stomach if lunch were not served. The Japanese Christians crave fellowship with one another all week until Sunday.  Most of them are giving up some sort of club or other activity that they were actively involved in and are now able to come to church for the day.  It’s a great joy to be with the other Christians and to get a break from the culture that is deeply ingrained in the Shinto and Buddhist system.  We enjoyed curry rice for lunch with some snack foods that were given to the church as gifts.  When someone from the church travels to another location it’s expected to buy a local snack food that is individually wrapped and to bring it back to the church as a gift for others in the church.  Gift giving is very important in Japanese culture.

After lunch was a short business meeting over coffee and then a choir practice.  Tim and I had a short rest with the Smith’s children during choir practice time.  Then we were given the opportunity to share our testimonies with the Wakaba mission.  We all sat around a table with barley tea. The atmosphere was very casual and friendly.  Tim shared his testimony first with a lady translating.  Then I shared mine with a different lady translating.  We shared how we were saved and how God has changed us and how God has placed a burden for ministry to the Japanese on our hearts.  Then there was a time of discussion with all the questions and answers and thoughts being translated back and forth in Japanese and English.  These people really cared about us and we knew we were brothers and sisters in Christ.  It’s a very special bond.  Church ends about five in the afternoon.  Most people go home for dinner.

We took the Smith family out for dinner at an Italian restaurant with an English teacher from the mission.  It was very special for me to meet her. Her name is Shinobu. She shared with me how she was an exchange student to the USA when she was younger.  The first time she had heard about Jesus was from her host father.  He shared with her how she no longer needed to offer sacrifices or burn incense to the Japanese gods but that Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice for her sin.  At that time she did not believe but always remembered the love her host parents had for her and how they told her she was a very special person.  They tried to explain to her how God loved them so much and that is why they could show love to her.  For ten years Shinobu still chose to reject Jesus Christ then she finally believed!  Now she can understand how her host parents loved her and still to this day she keeps in contact with them.  She carries around printed emails of encouragement from her host mother.  Her biological family is not Christian.  Please join Shinobu and me in praying for her biological family to believe in Jesus Christ.  There is no other name by which the Japanese can be saved!