Osaka Direct - February 2004
Fukuin - Japanese word for "gospel" - Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.
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Dear friends,

Cherry BlossomsHello from Osaka City once again. We are doing fine here, and the weather is finally turning warm. The cherry blossoms are in bloom and everyone is going to the parks for "Ohanami" (flower-viewing) parties. It is interesting how even in the middle of this concrete jungle there is a strong awareness of seasons for flowers and fruits and a desire (although often unsatisfied) to somehow connect with nature. With the coming of spring, we are working on various special summer outreach plans and at the same time trying to stay on top of the ongoing activities. Sometimes we feel like jugglers as we try to keep track of all the different moving parts. But at the same time it is a great joy and privilege to be serving here and it is hard to imagine any type of work being more satisfying than this.

The Lord is good and He watches over us, and we trust and pray that He is watching over you as well. We do hope that you enjoy this Osaka Direct, and we appreciate your prayers always. This word from Jeremiah 33:9 was not originally about Osaka, but perhaps we can borrow it for our city as well. "Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.'"

March News

Calvary Chapel Osaka Partnership

Dan and Aaron
Dan and Aaron DeLeon

We have invited all of you to pray for Aaron DeLeon (from Calvary Chapel Montebello, California) in previous Osaka Direct updates, and now we are pleased to announce that we have formed an informal partnership with Aaron in his effort to start a Calvary Chapel here in Osaka. Aaron will be starting his first meetings in the form of a Sunday afternoon Bible study beginning April 11th. Initially the Calvary Chapel Bible study will meet in the Grapevine Cell Church space at Abeno Room. It is a small space, but it will provide a place for him to begin and the Bible study is a way for him to work toward forming a core group before starting actual services. Assisting other church planting efforts is directly in line with the cell church vision for church multiplication, and we praise the Lord for the chance to play a small role in the beginnings of this new Calvary Chapel. Dan and Aaron are meeting Monday mornings for mutual encouragement and prayer.

Abeno Room Open

Aukje at the Abeno Room
Aukje stuffs the fridge with snacks at the new Abeno Room

The new Abeno Room meeting space is now completed and in use for two (soon to be three) meetings per week. With this space we went for a living room style appearance which will hopefully help people to feel at home and to relax. This choice was also deliberate in that we want people to look at the room and say, "I could hold this meeting in my own living room the same way." There are two couches, five regular chairs, and five folding chairs available, so it is possible to squeeze a good-size cell meeting into the room, but it works best with about 8-10 people. The room is on the second floor directly above a bar, and across the hall is a karaoke room, so we can sing as loud as we want without worrying about disturbing the neighbors. Praise the Lord!

English Alpha All Day Meeting

Alpha Meeting at Abeno Students
All Day Saturday Alpha Meeting at Sekime

The Alpha classes are continuing, with Japanese language groups on Monday and Friday nights and an English language group on Saturday afternoon. The English language group is by far the largest and best attended due to a lot of interest from the Osaka International Church members. Scheduling a weekend retreat (recommended as part of Alpha) was too hard, but we did manage to have an all day meeting with the English Alpha group and fourteen people participated. Although this is an English language group, about half of the participants are Japanese.

New Building for OIC

New OCC Building
The Osaka Christian Center (OCC) Building

We shared a picture of the new OCC building construction starting a while back and here is an updated photo. As you can see, the outside of the building is nearly finished and the building is scheduled to open in June. Since the Osaka International Church (OIC) rents from OCC, OIC will get to move into the new building when it is completed at minimal cost. This will be a big opportunity for OIC to expand its ministry since there will be a brand new and much larger sanctuary, and we also hope that the attractive look and feel of the new building will make it much more inviting to seekers. Dan is continuing to serve as the interim pastor at OIC, but the church may be getting close to making a decision about inviting Dan to stay as the long-term pastor.

Looking for a Relaxing Meal

slow food restaurant sign
An interesting Restaurant Sign

Just had to share this with you. There are hundreds of interesting signs in the city, but this one really appealed to us when we went out for some husband and wife time on a date recently. Unfortunately we didn't see it until after we had eaten, but now we know where to go next time. In this hurried land of fast trains and busy schedules, slow food sounds just right!

Praise & Prayer Requests

(1) Please pray for Aaron DeLeon and the start of the new Calvary Chapel of Osaka church plant. If you want, you can also send him an email at - I am sure that he would enjoy a friendly greeting or a word of encouragement.
(2) Please continue to pray for the Grapevine Cell Church plant. Attendance at the regular Thursday and Saturday cell meetings is very low as contacts that were made last summer have gradually stopped visiting. This is not a surprise, since this is typical for church planting efforts in Japan, but we do want to find out how to reverse it. We are thinking of running Alpha at the Thursday evening meeting starting in May, and we will also be making new efforts to advertise the meetings as well.
(3) Please pray that the Lord would make His will clear to both us and to OIC congregation regarding whether Dan should be the long-term pastor for OIC.
(4) Please pray for the current Alpha class students and for the plans for the new Alpha classes that we will be starting in late April and early May.
(5) Please pray for the several short-term workers that are preparing to come this spring, summer, and fall and for additional long-term workers for Japan.

God bless you always!

In Jesus' love,
Dan and Karen Ellrick

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