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VVV OSAKA DIRECT VVV April 2004
Hello from Osaka! We are doing fine here and we trust that the Lord is watching over you also. Dan is still leading both Osaka International Church and Grapevine Cell Church, and so we are busy, but also very blessed by the opportunity to serve.
In Japan, April 1st marks the beginning of the new year for school calendars and businesses, and April is also a popular time to start new things. For the students that we know and their families, April has been a busy time of "entering school ceremonies" and getting students set up with everything they need for the new school year. For the graduates, this is the time of starting new careers or lamenting the failure to find work (the Japanese economy is only beginning to show signs of recovery after years of recession).
April has brought some new things to us also - for one thing, we have been joined by Will Dykstra, a short-term worker who will be with us for three months (photo: Will tries the fried octopus while Aukje looks on). Also, Karen has completed her first DVD project working with a Japanese pastor (Pastor Hirano of Tokyo Horizon Chapel) ; and we have also completed our first round of Alpha Courses. We hope that you enjoy reading about these things and more in this issue of Osaka Direct.
From LA: Pastors Joshua Park and Chris Cho
In mid-April, we were blessed to host two Korean-American pastors from the Los Angeles area for a few days. We originally met Pastor Joshua Park (Hana Church, Buena Park) through a former short-term worker that we hosted in Hiroshima while we were ministering there. Pastor Park's church will be sending a short-term missions team to Osaka in July to work with us, and his visit was a great opportunity to get to know each other better in preparation for this partnership ministry. Pastor Park was accompanied by his friend, Pastor Chris Cho (New Community Chapel, Northridge), and we had a great visit talking and praying about the Lord's work in Osaka and around the world.
The Basic Church Model
Karen recently had the opportunity to visit the Tokyo area, and while she was there she stayed at the apartment of a young missionary who has "Basic Church" worship in her home. The Basic Church model is being sponsored by our friend Charlie Williams (a Southern Baptist missionary), as a way for even young Christians to be able to hold their own worship services, so that the church can grow rapidly if the Lord begins to open Japanese hearts. This church model challenges Christians to ask the question, "What is actually Biblically required to have a church service?" The list may be shorter than most people think! For example, this Basic Church does not have a regular pastor or meeting place; instead the meeting is in an apartment and is being led by a young Japanese woman who has only been a Christian for six months. She doesn't know all the answers to questions that people have, but she has an excitement and energy that touches hearts. Basic Church has many common points with our own cell church model, although there are some significant differences also. Both models aim to remove as many barriers to church growth as possible and thus to prepare the way for a mighty move of God in this land. We have been learning from Charlie and also sharing our own insights as we all work to see Jesus Christ glorified throughout this land. Let's all pray that the Lord would indeed open the hearts of many Japanese to know Jesus and be saved!
English Alpha Bible Names Scrabble Party
Our first set of three Alpha Courses (two in Japanese, one in English) ended this month very successfully, and we continue to be excited about this tool for introducing Jesus to seekers and for helping believers to get grounded in the faith. A total of nineteen people completed Alpha and almost as many more visited one or more sessions. Feedback from the students completing Alpha has been very positive, and several of the people who visited plan to come back and take the course starting in May. The English Alpha course ended with a pizza party and we played a cooperative version of Scrabble with teams working together to put as many Bible names on the board as possible. Six new Alpha courses (two English and four Japanese) are scheduled to start during the second week of May. Four people from the first set of courses will be serving as assistant leaders and helpers, and we are excited about this opportunity to begin developing lay leaders.
Last Photo for this English Alpha Course
Karen films Pastor Hirano at Tokyo Horizon Chapel
The vision for Karen's video camera and DVD production effort has always included the desire to put Japanese pastors in front of the camera as soon as possible so that we could eventually have a library of DVD teaching resources with a number of different teachers. This month a start was made on this part of the vision when Karen traveled to Tokyo Horizon Chapel to film Pastor Hirano giving a series of mini-talks about the Passion movie, and to advise Horizon on how to get set up to do the same thing that she has been doing. Pastor Hirano is a natural for teaching on camera and the DVD turned out great; Karen is now wearing her computer out duplicating copies for Horizon and also for us to give to people who have seen the movie.
Praise & Prayer Requests(1) OIC has still not made a decision about whether to call Dan to stay as long-term pastor. One issue is that, although Dan has a missionary commissioning letter from Grace Fellowship Chapel, Dan is not ordained and the OIC church constitution requires that an ordained pastor be called. This issue could be resolved by either an amendment to the church constitution or by Dan seeking ordination. Please pray that the Lord would make His will clear to both us and to OIC congregation.
(2) Please pray for the six new Alpha courses starting this month. There will be Japanese language courses on Monday morning, Thursday Afternoon, Thursday evening, and Saturday afternoon; and there will be English courses Tuesday morning and Friday evening. So far a total of 28 people have signed up, (seven as leaders and helpers and 21 as students). We would like to have still more students, but this is a good start , praise the Lord!
(3) Please pray for Aaron DeLeon and the start of the new Calvary Chapel of Osaka church plant. You can also send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org,I am sure that he would enjoy a friendly greeting and a word of encouragement.
(4) Please pray for the several short-term workers that are preparing to come this year and also for additional long-term workers for Japan.
God bless you always!
In Jesus' love,