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VVV OSAKA DIRECT VVV July/August 2003
How are you? Here in Japan, the Lord continues to bless us and He is keeping us busy also (smile). Please accept my apologies for being late in writing. This time I am so late that I have decided to combine our July and August news into one email. As you know from our last Osaka Direct, we have had a number of short-term workers come to help us this summer, and this has been a wonderful blessing. A lot of exciting ministry opportunities have opened up to us, and the Lord has used the short-term teams to share His love with many people. The various activities have also allowed us to build a contact list of the names and addresses of over sixty people who are interested in receiving invitations to future events. This fall we will be following up on these contacts by inviting them to come to various activities and especially to the Alpha introductory Bible courses that we will begin in October. May the Lord bless you as you read this edition of Osaka Direct, and may He guide you in prayer for the people of Osaka that they might come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We also pray that the Lord would be with you daily and that He would lead you and guide you in all His ways through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Outsiders Reach Out!
Left: Tim juggles knives as the band (not shown) plays music and other Outsider team members pass out tracts. Center: The Outsiders team did a great presentation at a homeless outreach in Nishinari park. Right: Kimono-clad youth on their way to a summer Shinto festival receive tracts from the team.
The Outsiders high school mission team from Castleview Baptist Church in Indianapolis came to Osaka to sing praise songs in Japanese and English, juggle, do balloon animals for children, and share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone they met. We had a great time working with this well-prepared team led by Troy and Rachel Cooper. Their enthusiasm and dedication was a blessing to us and to the many Japanese people that they connected with. Praise the Lord!
Left: Rachel Starr and some of her new Japanese friends. Center: Everyone loves balloon animals. Right: The two youngest summer English students.
Rachel Starr completed her two month stay with us at the end of July and headed home, but she remains in our hearts and we know that she made a heart-to-heart connection with many Japanese. She is back in school at Northwestern College in Iowa for two more years, but we know the Lord has something special in store for this gifted young woman. We also had two short-term English teachers with us, Kimberly Beam and Haruyo Uchiyama, who were sent by the Overseas Summer Mission (OSM) to conduct a three week intensive English conversation course for the Grapevine Cell Church plant. This also went well, and I know these English students and their families will be back to visit us at the church more in the future. In fact, several of their students are becoming long-term English students in Aukje vandenBerg's new classes.
Our New Team Member, Aukje vandenBerg
Aukje vandenBerg, MUP missionary and new church-planting team member
For a long time you have been faithfully praying with us that the Lord would send more long-term workers to join us in working to establish Grapevine Cell Church. The Lord has heard these prayers and now He has led Aukje to move from the Tokyo area (actually Fujisawa) to Osaka in order to partner with us. It is exciting to have one of our own MUP missionaries join us in the work here, and doubly so because she already speaks Japanese and knows the culture of Japan. In fact, Aukje has been working in Japan a year longer than us. She declined our offer to make her the team leader, but we know she will be a wonderful help in the work and a huge blessing to us personally as well. Praise the Lord for bringing our friend Aukje to Osaka to work with us!
A Modern City with Ancient Values and Beliefs
Left: The Osaka city skyline is a constant reminder of the millions waiting to hear about Jesus. Right: Young people carry a portable shrine that is supposed to house a Shinto god. The "god" needs to be carried on human shoulders in order to tour the area that he is believed to be god over.
Osaka is such a place of contrast. The city is super-modern, but the world view of the people is largely unchanged since ancient times. Territorial gods and the spirits of dead ancestors have the central place of honor in all of the seasonal festivals and, although many Japanese will not admit believing in the Shinto and Buddhist religions, nearly everyone participates in the major festivals which are designed to please the gods so they will not get angry and and the ancient rituals which are supposed to soothe the spirits of the dead so that will not harm the living out of loneliness at being neglected. Dear Lord, how long will it be before the eyes and hearts of this people are opened so that they can see Jesus?
(1) Pray for the new summer workers who arrived in Japan today, Amie Cuhaciyan from Seattle and Dewayne Dancer from Dallas. They will be with us for about ten days and will be involved in various outreach programs. May the Lord bless them in the work and may He use their efforts to share the Good News of Jesus with the people here.
(2) Please continue to pray for Aaron as he works to establish a Calvary Chapel here in Osaka.
(3) Pray for wisdom with regard to Dan's work as the interim pastor of the Osaka International Church (OIC). Some OIC church members have asked about the possibility of Dan continuing in this role long-term. On the one hand, pastoring the international church takes a lot of time and energy away from working on the Grapevine Cell Church plant. On the other hand, this is an open door for ongoing ministry to Japanese and foreigners alike (over 60% of the international church members are Japanese). The international church members are also able to help the cell church plant in many ways, and it is possible that with their help we can do more than we could ever do alone. We need for the Lord to speak clearly in this matter.
(4) Please pray for the contacts that we made this summer. May the Lord open their hearts to come to the cell church meetings and to the follow-up events and Bible studies. Join us in praying that the Lord would bring many of these sixty-some contacts to faith in Jesus Christ and into the Grapevine Cell Church to form a core membership that can set the church on a good course for the future.
May the Lord bless you! If you have enjoyed this edition of Osaka Direct, then please forward it to a friend. If anyone wants to be added to (or removed from) the Osaka Direct mailing list, just let us know. God bless you!
In Jesus' love,
Donations in support of this ministry may be mailed to MUP, P.O. Box 30947, Seattle, WA 98103. Funds intended specifically for the cell church project should be marked "Osaka Cell Church Project", while funds for general ministry needs can be marked as for Dan and Karen Ellrick's ministry in Osaka. For any questions about giving, call MUP at: 206-781-3151.