Back to the Mission Field

Apologies for getting this last post out late. It was a strange double Sunday due to time change – full of reflection, goodbyes, traveling, Father’s Day celebrations (a first for Jon, one of the long-term missionaries at Mustard Seed!) and jetlag. So strange in fact, that upon waking up disoriented on the airplane back, I briefly questioned whether those last 11 surreal days had truly passed.

We started our day off by reading from Psalm 73, repenting of envy by remembering that the “privileged” in our world do have burdens, and do need Christ in their lives. We remembered that we too are extraordinarily privileged, and need to repent of self-reliance. We then had a time of sharing of moments from the week which testified to our reliance on God’s reliable sovereignty. Here are a few highlights:

  • Alli, eagerly speedwalking to approach anyone on the Kobe University campus without prejudice, at times so much so that she would startle them. Many of the more fruitful interactions were in fact with people that we had judged would be unenthusiastic.
  • That emotional battering ram of rejection after rejection while trying to get just one person to stop and talk to us at the train station or on campus. The heartbreak for the Japanese, the continual dependence on God for ministry, and the realization that most people in Japan (and truly our whole world) are too busy, too distracted to even consider the solution to their deepest need – Christ!
  • Each one of us having the opportunity to share our testimonies at Tuesday night “English Connect.” For some, it was their first time! For all, we were surprised at the response – attentive listening, and asking questions about the details and impact of our stories. This was no longer about practicing English. It was a testament to the power of trust that had been built with the Christian community over months and years of investment.
  • Prayer meetings take place at Mustard Seed every Thursday night. Yuji had been attending outreach events for quite while now, but we were privileged to witness the very first time that he prayed out loud with the group! It was very brave of him to take that step, considering his family takes issue with his involvement with Christians. He also put himself out there by praying in English, in front of visitors from California. Needless to say, a few of us got emotional.

Success is Faithfulness

Without overly indulging the measurement of quantitative “success,” we were able to witness some truly amazing things during our stay. 3 baptisms (which we were purely spectators of) – such a rare occurrence here! We had around 85 people come to the BBQ (which I had doubted, seeing the cramped spot, and rain the day before), and handed out over 5000 church flyers. A handful of first-timers to the outreach events took a step closer to Christ by attending a follow-up event. And the group photo at the bottom of this post even includes 3 people who attended a church service at Mustard Seed for the first time ever!

In the Kingdom of God, success is not measured in numbers. This is always true, but in Japan, it was blatantly apparent. Considering that <1% of Japan is Christian, statistically we could possibly be the only Christian that some of these people ever interact with in their lifetime. There was potentially a lot of pressure that we could place on ourselves. But it was humbling to realize that God does not need us.

The nearly 300 students we met on campus don’t have to remember my name, don’t have to accept my invitation to the next event, don’t even really have to know that I am a Christian, for them to experience Christ and for the Holy Spirit to begin stirring up readiness for the Gospel. Therefore success is simply faithfulness that God has and will achieve far more than we could ever plan for.

Time to Say, “Mata ne

With the short stay, and the language barrier, and with some of our interactions cut short because he or she had to run off to class or work, we may never know the full impact of our time in Kobe. We have to take on more humility, since the vast majority of the watering and harvesting will not be done by us. In such a short amount of time, we developed a deep care for the souls of those we met by God’s grace and overflowing love, but we must entrust the work to others (for now…).

What we can do, is come back home inspired and changed, to not let this experience go to waste. To not let it be “that one time” I always point back to on my Missions resume. To not forget 126 million Japanese who do not know Christ, including those who have been on the fence for literal years and struggle to claim Christ for themselves in a collectivist society. To bring back this urgency to our local church, this understanding that true love is laying down your life and your comfort so that someone can know their Creator and their purpose in life, which is simply to enjoy Him.

Pray that we will bring these things back to the States, back to our own spheres of influence. Back to reality, back to our old routines. Back to the mission field.

Psalm 86:9

Today was our last full day and boy was it jammed pack with fun activities and great people! We began our day with a cooking class teaching our new friends how to make ceviche and s’mores. For many this was the first time even hearing about either foods. We had an astounding 25 people help us prep this yummy meal.

Soon after marked the beginning of our two and a half hour ping-pong tournament! The whole sanctuary was filled watching all 24 contestants battle it out, all trying their best to win a variety of fabulous prizes. In the end three of our new friends took the bronze, silver, and gold (none of us possessing the Japanese finesse it took to win). It was a very fierce battle, beautifully commentated by JD and Brie.

Finally, we made our last push to Harbor Land for our last English Connect Dinner. Meeting in a food court at the mall, we met a handful of new individuals from the Meetup App and a plethora of familiar faces. Together we shared in one last meal, then Tsubasa led us around the city showing us various spots with gorgeous views.

As the time in Kobe has quickly come to an end, it has been a true blessing getting to know the people of this city. However, there is still much darkness and despair plaguing this beautiful country. Yet there is great hope in knowing “all the nations you have made will come and worship you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.”

Over the past ten days stepping into the shoes of the Mustard Seed staff has been a very challenging and eye-opening task. It has also woken me up to the realties of truly living and fulfilling the Great Commission. That we must always be bold and willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable positions for the sake of the Gospel, and having that sense of urgency and intentionality with all who we come in contact with.

The Final Stretch

It’s day nine, and we are nearing the end of our trip. Today was a slightly less busy day, but a productive one nonetheless! We started off the morning with a devotion and prayer before splitting up into our respective groups. Most of us went off to campus again, while the others went flyering and shopping for tomorrow’s cooking class.

Aaron, Karina, Meghan, Rachel, Malia, Kaira, and I all made our final trek up the big hill leading to Kobe University, and split off into pairs as we tried to make the most of our final opportunity to meet people at the school.

Since it’s a Friday, fewer students seemed to be on campus and many went home earlier in the day. However, we still were able to have some great conversations with people! As before, many of us faced some rejections and disinterest, but we were also encouraged by the kind people who openly talked to us and shared some of their stories with us. Hopefully we were able to reflect some of God’s great love, and we pray that He will use our brief interactions as part of His plan to bring these people to Him. During class times when not many students were milling about, we made a video for future teams to Mustard Seed who will also be visiting campus, giving some advice on where and when it seems best to approach students. Finally, we got some dessert from 7-11 before going down the hill and meeting the rest of the group.

Meanwhile, Uncle Craig, Auntie Christy, Auntie Susan, and Ryan all were putting Mustard Seed flyers in various apartment buildings. At the beginning of our trip they had 5000 flyers, and they’ve managed to use them all! After flyering, Auntie Christy and Auntie Susan went looking for a store with tortilla chips. They wandered around lost for a while, but in the end they reached their destination and arrived back at church with all the food we needed for tomorrow’s cooking class.

In preparation for tomorrow’s events, we did an inventory of all the food and carried the ping pong table downstairs (it was a rather difficult feat). We had a couple of hours before dinner, so Kaira and Karina used their artistic talents to draw a desert scene on a wall at the church. They also wrote out a verse in both English, and Japanese!

The rest of us used our free time in an equally productive way, either napping (Rachel and Malia) or playing ping pong (Aaron, Ryan, Uncle Craig, Meghan, Auntie Christy and I). Ryan and Meghan were the reigning champs for a while, but Aaron and Auntie Christy later managed to outmatch them. Thanks to Uncle Craig, Ryan, and Aaron, who passed on some of their ping pong prowess to help me go from struggling novice to an (almost) decent player!

Meghan and Kaira volunteered their time to babysit the West kids, allowing Kevin and Nozomi to have a night out for themselves. The rest of us went to Saizeriya for dinner. Some members of the church, and people that we met last week at the barbecue also came. One of the girls that Meghan and I had met at the university also came to dinner! We had some good fellowship, and it was great to see some fruit of our efforts at the campus.

After dinner, the guys went with others from the church to bowl and karaoke at Round 1, while the rest of us returned to our hostel.

As we finish out our trip, please pray that we have renewed energy and can continue to witness God’s work in Japan. Tomorrow is also the day of our events, so please also pray that many people will come, and that God will use these events to bring people closer to Him.

Thanks!

-Alli Ohara

Pray Without Ceasing

Hi everyone! Today was another busy day, but luckily we had more energy from our day off yesterday.

The campus team returned to Kobe University yet again, and continued to struggle getting up the big hill. Although we arrived on campus hot and sweaty, we started our day with prayer over our time at the university. For some of us, it was easy to approach people and spark up a conversation. Some interactions lasted as long as 45 minutes! Praise the LORD!

Others were less successful; they experienced rejection and were not even acknowledged. However, we reminded ourselves that we were not on this trip for ourselves, and should not be living for our own glory. Instead, we are called to glorify the LORD no matter what we have to do. This encouraged everyone and we continued to talk to the students. Many were open to hearing about the church events and a few were even planning on attending! We also did our best to stop and pray over the university.

The flyering team was also hard at work in the morning. They went to new apartment buildings and filled the mailboxes with church flyers. After this, they went to the market to find the food for our cooking class on Saturday. They had an extensive list of groceries that they needed to buy and luckily were able to find almost everything on the list.

After lunch, the team was off to relax in the afternoon. Many of us slept, but Alli did quite the opposite. She found a nearby rock climbing gym and decided to climb for a little bit. Malia accompanied her (just as a spectator) and Alli was once again able to show off her amazing strength. She had a great time and made it back in time for dinner.

Dinner was on our own, some went out to eat with people and others just picked up food and ate it in their hostels. We met back at church in the evening for prayer.

Prayer was a casual gathering that consisted of some staff members and a few other members of the church. It began with a time of worship led by Pastor Kevin (and Aaron!), and it was amazing to witness the power of worship even in a language we do not understand. We continued with a short devotional led by Uncle Craig and translated into Japanese by Pastor Kevin for those there that only knew Japanese. After that, we had a large group prayer and then broke into smaller groups to continue in prayer. We focused on a couple verses Uncle Craig shared with us, 2 Timothy 2:2 and Psalm 86:9. We also prayed for a new church building for Mustard Seed as well as a long term missionary from the US.

After prayer, the team invited some people that they invited throughout the week to coffee and dessert. We had a relatively large group so we split up and some went to Starbucks while others went to an ice cream place. Both were good times of fellowship and getting to know some of the new people that the team invited. It was a fun filled day and we are looking forward to what the LORD has in store for the few last days!

Prayer Requests:

  • Please pray for Auntie Susan’s health as she was not feeling great today and tried to rest as much as she could.
  • Please pray for the rest of team’s health as well, that we would all stay free of illness and get the rest that we need
  • Please pray for the English dinners that we have tomorrow night and Saturday night, that they would be successful and lots of people would come
  • Please pray for our last day of going to the campus and flyering, that we would reach a lot of people and be well received in the community.

Thank you all for your continual support!! We appreciate it!! God bless!!

-Kaira Shibata

Rest and Relaxation

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:3

Hello all!! On day seven, we were blessed with a free day to rest up (just as God did!) and explore! All of us were very happy to be able to sleep in and do as we pleased.

On Our Own

For us girls, we were able to sleep in till anywhere from 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. or even 1 p.m. (Meghan). Karina, Meghan and Aunty Susan rested for a majority of the day, staying around the hostel and sleeping as much as possible.

Alli, Kaira, Rachel and I first ate at a yummy restaurant for lunch, consisting of a lot of gyoza! We then explored around Kobe, looking for shops and good snacks. When we went into Uniqlo, we were pleasantly surprised to hear them playing a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called, “Yours.” Although I am sure Uniqlo was not aware of what the song was talking about, it was encouraging to hear a song praising the Lord and speaking Gospel truth. As we walked down Motomachi Shopping Street, we stopped every once in a while to pray for the people of the nearby area; praying for God to give them a desire to know Him and praying for the believers in the area to continue to spread God’s love to those around them.

Aunty Christy was able to go to the local mountains and see God’s beautiful creation from a higher point of view! She took the Nunobiki Ropeway, which went from the bottom of the mountain to the Nunobiki Herb Garden. From the herb garden, she was able to overlook Kobe and see how truly amazing the city really is, while praying for the city also!

Uncle Craig was so selfless and spent his free day going to the Kobe-Sanda outlets to get gifts for his family! (A true family-man)

Meanwhile, Aaron and Ryan travelled a little ways north to visit Kyoto! In Kyoto, they were able to see the Tofukuji Temple and Hokanji Temple:

Together At Last!

After being apart for the most part of the day, the team (except Aaron and Ryan because they could not get back in time) was able to reunite for dinner at Zundoya Ramen. This was our second time at this restaurant and it was just as delicious as the first! We were able to share with each other what we did during the day and enjoy each other’s company 🙂

After dinner, we headed back to Mustard Seed to have a devotional time and meet back with Aaron and Ryan (whom were both laying on the floor when we arrived). Our devotional for the day came from Psalm 72:1-7, which is David’s last psalm and prayer for the next king. David prays that the next king would be a righteous leader, but there is only one true righteous king, our King of kings. We are able to apply this to our mission trip as we prayed for Japan’s emperor, hoping that God would give him a desire to know Jesus and lead the great nation of Japan to God!

Uncle Craig also had very encouraging words for us following the devotional. He said that at this point in the week, this day was like our “halftime” and quoted Eric Liddell, a famous Olympic runner, who once said, “The secret of the my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God’s help, I run faster.” Uncle Craig encouraged us all to sprint harder for the second half of our trip, while solely relying on God’s strength and not our own.

We then had some fun team-bonding times! To start, we all did a plank for a minute, in which we were all successful!! Continuing to exercise, Alli, Ryan, and Aaron all did 50 push-ups for a minute (Alli was clearly the strongest on the team). Rachel then attempted to grab a pen that was on the floor by only using one leg and not allowing any other body part to touch the floor, which she was very close to and hopes to complete by the end of the trip. Meghan showed us her color-guard skills by being able to bounce a ball in the air and then putting her hands between her legs and catching the ball behind her back (she was the only one able to do so).

Karina used her cheerleading/dancing background to try to teach Meghan and Aaron some dance moves:

Sadly, this is the only photo I had of all of our fun activities.

To conclude the night, Aaron and Ryan went to dinner with two of the guys from Mustard Seed at a delicious yakitori restaurant, being able to fellowship and get to know them!

Prayer Requests:

  • For Japan’s leaders: that they might be able to have a relationship with God and lead righteously.
  • The team would go all-out for the remainder of the trip and rely on God for strength and courage, seeking to glorify God alone.
  • The team would also continue to be bold for Christ and an example of His love to those we encounter.
  • As we have a prayer meeting tomorrow, please pray that many people come and are able to see the power of prayer!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support! We appreciate you all! God Bless!!

-Malia Shibata

Sharing Our Stories

We made it to day six! Instead of getting up early, we were all given the morning off. Praise the Lord! Everyone was extremely grateful for the extra rest and recovery and it was evident that we desperately needed it by seeing how much more energy each teammate carried throughout the day and late into the night.

Once again, the team split off to follow their respective schedules. The first schedule outlined the events of the campus team who returned to Kobe University in the afternoon. Before leaving to go there however, we began our morning by meeting at Mustard Seed church to prep for our testimonial sharing that was scheduled to take place later that day. Brie and Jon gave us some excellent pointers on how to better connect our testimonies with the attendees of the evenings English Connect event. We proceeded to make our way to Kobe University.

The huge hill we have to climb to get onto campus seemed to have gotten longer and steeper.. or maybe we just got weaker and heavier because once we reached the top, we were all sweaty, out of breath, and ready to go back to our hostels. But God had greater plans for us. We spent about five hours connecting with the students on campus. Again, it was nerve-wracking and emotionally exhausting work, but God calls us to do hard things and with boldness we bravely sought out potential brothers and sisters in Christ. This being our second day at Kobe University, we applied what we learned from yesterday to our campus walking. For instance, instead of focusing on the quantity of people we invited to church, we focused on the quality of our invites by building a stronger relationship with each student before mentioning our faith. Although each of us felt like we didn’t reach as many people as the previous trip, we also all felt that God had something amazing in store for those of whom we did reach. It was encouraging to see the perseverance that each team member had in pursuing individuals all around campus.

As for the flyering team, they met up a little later and tested a new tactic of grabbing people’s attention with “free five minute english conversation” signs. From the sound of it, this tactic was better than simply trying to hand out flyers to the dodgy Japanese, but it was still difficult to get people to stop and engage in conversation. Eventually, they resorted to approaching people and personally inviting them to have english conversations. The flyering team also went to coffee shops and McDonald’s to sit and keep an eye out for people to connect with. They prayed beforehand for the Lord to call at least one person for them to connect with. God was faithful and provided each flyering member (Uncle Craig, Auntie Susan, Auntie Christy, and Ryan) with one individual to talk to. They all really enjoyed conversing with the people God called to them and we are hopeful they will come out to a Mustard Seed event. Overall, it was challenging work as they had to step out of their comfort zones and humiliate themselves, but according to Ryan, “We did it for the sake of the Gospel and we’ll do it again.” Now that’s the attitude to have!

After eating a quick dinner and doing a devotional, we started setting up for the event of the night: English Connect! This English Connect was particularly special because it gave us the opportunity to share our personal testimonies. Each team member had one or two word themes summarizing their story and depending on what sparked their interests, attendees got to choose a few team members to listen to and have a discussion in english with about our stories. We prayed that each attendee would have an open and receptive heart to what we had to say. Jon later mentioned that everyone seemed to be engaged and interested in our testimonies. This observation was quite encouraging to hear. We ended our time with a couple english speaking games and more fellowship. After most of the attendees had gone, spike ball was brought out and played competitively by several of of us. Shoutout to Uncle Craig who dabbed and made my night (this was something I never imagined I’d see- I was most incorrect).

God has really been so faithful these past six days. He’s held the rainy weather back for us, answered so many of our prayers, and has restored our weary bodies everyday so that we can serve him with liveliness and joy. It is evident that his mighty hand is working in and through each member of the team and I’m very hopeful for the five days we have left serving the people of Kobe and Mustard Seed Church. God is so good.

Tomorrow is a new day! In fact, it’s our day off! Please pray that even as we take some time to relax and have fun, we won’t get too distracted by the sights and sounds of Japan, but we would instead remember the true broken state of its people. Please pray that wherever we choose to go, we would be a shining example of God’s everlasting love and kindness to those around us. Lastly, please pray that God would be stirring the hearts of those who we’ve encountered so that they might come to church this upcoming Sunday or any of the events that Mustard Seed has planned for the future.

We are all so incredibly grateful for all your love and support! Thank you for reading this all the way to the end and for keeping us in your prayers! Tune in next time for more adventures in Kobe!

~Rachel Tashima 🙂

God’s Faithfulness on Display

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…”

Deuteronomy 7:9

As I’ve grown in both age and spiritual maturity, I often find myself sitting in solitude or discussing with brothers in Christ about judgment day. How will I respond when I am required to account for my time on earth before a perfectly Holy, all knowing, and all powerful God? Will God smile and rejoice over His faithful servant? Or will He expose a life filled with “good works” as a failed attempt to mask self-righteousness?

In the end, the issue always boils down to stewardship. And the fundamental key to biblical stewardship is the principle of ownership. Nothing we have is our own, God owns everything, including our lives and we are just managers of what we have, acting on His behalf. The daily challenge becomes committing our lives and possessions to honor and serve Jesus rather than ourselves.

Tragic Reality of Kobe

Kevin West is the pastor of Mustard Seed Church and he shared with us that 0.4% of the population in Kobe are Christians. As I stood in the station trying to pass out flyers to hundreds of people, witnessing the constant flow of people rush through the station every 10 minutes, and standing in a crowded train, I couldn’t help but think about that number 0.4%. Statistics are typically cold and unforgiving. And this particular statistic is piercing as it claims that out of all the people I saw today in the crowds, potentially only 1 person knows Jesus and the rest are on the path towards spending an eternity in hell. My heart broke for Japan, for the city of Kobe, and for the individual people.

The Mustard Seed Staff was addressing the team and they introduced us to a very scary realization. If 0.4% of the population in Kobe are Christians, then there is an overwhelming statistical probability that for the people we meet during our trip, we will likely be the ONLY Christians they will encounter for the remainder of their lives. This realization aggressively put our time in Kobe into perspective and the urgency that is required in such a spiritually deprived city and country. Nevertheless, the team was excited about the opportunity to steward the time we have in Kobe to go out and proclaim the Gospel!

Response in Faithfulness

I believe that we are gifted glimpses of who people truly are and what they are made by their responses to conviction, calling, and trials. Each person on the team understands the urgency in Japan and the Great Commission, the team has answered the call and traveled 5,718 miles to Kobe, and the team has already endured various attacks of the evil one, not allowing discouragement or fear prevent them from going out to witness to the people of Kobe! I praise God daily because through each step of conviction, calling, and trials, the team has responded in faithfulness.

We had a big day ahead of us and we were excited for the opportunity to share the love of Christ with more people in Kobe. We spent the morning in prayer asking the Lord to empower us to persevere in faith through any hesitations, fears, discouragement, or distractions as we headed out to engage with the people of Kobe and to not let anything stop us from sharing the love of Christ boldly. The team split into two groups: Malia, Karina, Meghan, Alli, Rachel, Kaira, and Aaron went to Kobe University to meet students and connect them to Mustard Seed Church. Craig, Christy, Susan, and I walked around the neighborhood putting flyers into mailboxes and went to a major train station (Sannomiya) to pass out flyers.

Sharing in the Sufferings of Christ

Both the University and flyering group experienced challenges throughout the day. As the team approached young university students on campus to have conversations in hope of connecting them to Mustard Seed and share about Jesus, it was not uncommon to get snickers, laughter, unpleasant glares, avoidance, or outright rejection. As you might imagine, experiencing rejection makes it that much more difficult to approach the next person. But by the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit, the team did not waiver or cower! The next person that they saw, they boldly and faithfully approached in hope to connect with them. Some team members even chased after groups of students because “they were getting away” (shout out to Meghan and Alli!). The team had its focus on what was most important to them…the eternal destination of souls. I was immensely encouraged by how they stewarded their time and energy on campus to honor Jesus.

The flyering team spend time in prayer in the areas of where we put flyers in mailboxes. We are hopeful that the Lord will stir up interest in some of the people to come visit the church! Putting flyers in mailboxes was easy, but the challenge came when we went to the station. We were blessed with the opportunity to be humbled again…and again…and again. We stood in the station with a big stack of flyers, big smiles on our face with great hope that God will call these people to just visit Mustard Seed Church! The reality is, you will be lucky if you can get even a handful of people to look at the flyer, let alone take it. Once the people spot you handing out flyers, they take longer routes to avoid you. If you look closely enough, you will also spot a lot of glaring and stares of apparent judgment. It was incredibly difficult to get rejected time and time again. After each rejection, I had the urge to NOT extend my hand out with another flyer lest I get rejected again. It was an amazing time to reflect on what I care more about…my pride or the Gospel.

My encouragement for the team was reminding them of God’s faithfulness to those that keep His commandments ( Deuteronomy 7:9 ). As the team went out to share the love of Christ and obey Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus was faithful to answer our prayers this morning as the team did an amazing job not allowing pride, fear, or rejection discourage us from trying to share Jesus with people. In addition, my encouragement for the team was to rejoice in sharing in the sufferings of Christ. The rejection we experienced today was but a small fraction of what Jesus went through. Though suffering may not be the most pleasant way to grow and become more like Christ, sanctification is always something to rejoice over and praise God for!

Mustard Seed Staff Appreciation

One of our primary objectives for our trip was to support and serve each member of the Mustard Seed Staff. The team took out the staff to enjoy a delicious dinner at a great tonkatsu restaurant. We must have filled half the restaurant and constituted 99% of the noise.

I always try to take moments to stop, step back and survey my surroundings. My heart was full just seeing smiles, laughter, genuine connections, and biblical fellowship all around the tables at dinner. I have been incredibly blessed and encouraged to witness the team stewarding their time in Kobe Japan for the glory of God. There is something truly beautiful about witnessing the Holy Spirit actively working in a person’s heart and I have had the privilege to see it each day in every person on the team. The team is putting themselves out there willing to be rejected and humiliated for the sake of the Gospel. God is stretching each one of us and as we continue to persevere for Jesus in faith, God is magnified and glorified.

I am hopeful that on judgment day when we are all asked to account for how we stewarded the opportunity to be in Kobe these first 5 days, God will rejoice over us knowing that we used our gifts, time, and energy to honor and glorify Jesus!

My hope and prayer for wherever we go, is that the surrounding people would look upon us and notice something truly special, something uniquely beautiful, and though they may not know it at the time, what they are witnessing is the love of Christ. Furthermore, my prayer is that their hearts would yearn to partake in that love as it is exponentially more beautiful and fulfilling when it is shared with their Creator, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ!

–Ryan Najima

Prayer Requests

Thank you for your constant support and prayer. If you could please take a few minutes to pray for a new building for Mustard Seed Kobe that would be such a blessing to us! Praise God, the church is growing and they need more space! We have a wonderful opportunity this evening to share our testimonies, please pray that the Holy Spirit would use the righteous and glorious deeds of Jesus Christ to encourage the listeners to seek a living relationship with Jesus!

Campus Outreach 101

We started off this morning at Mustard Seed Church with a quick devotional and joined the prayer meeting along with a few other staff members. After the prayer session, we had an hour break before settling down for our first service of the day!

Pastor Jay Greer from Mustard Seed Community Church in Osaka came to preach today, on what it means to be a witness of the church. One thing he said that stood out to me was that as witnesses, we are not professors or experts on the gospel, but rather we testify to what we already know.

The structures of the sermon and worship were very interesting, as they were bilingual! Pastor Jay preached in English with the help of a translator, so we were able to hear the message in both Japanese and English, and the worship leader alternated singing some verses in English and others in Japanese. We were also able to witness and celebrate a baptism in the church; however, we aren’t able to post any photos in respect of their privacy.

After service we grabbed lunch at a nearby bento restaurant and rested before attending the afternoon service, which was the same as the morning sermon, but just another opportunity for people to attend that were not able to this morning – this was also the final service before our campus flyering training.

Around 4:30pm the team gathered around for our first training session on campus outreach and flyering. We learned the best ways to reach out to strangers on a university campus to encourage them to attend Mustard Seed Church events or Sunday services. We listened to tips and advice, and even did a little hands-on role play with each other, practicing how to politely but effectively strike up a conversation with students. After about an hour and a half of training, we headed off to grab dinner at a food court with some members from the church. Our mentors, Jack and Sora, were generous enough to show us around the university campus we would be working at after dinner.

As we prepare for our first day of campus outreach tomorrow, please pray for our team; that we will be confident in our faith and be able to spread the love of Christ to others, through the way we treat both each other and the people we meet. Pray that we will be successful in guiding people towards Mustard Seed Church, so that they will be able to grow a relationship with them and further evangelize. Please ask the Lord to allow us to be witnesses of the church, testifying to what we know, and again, that we would glorify Him as He watches over us for the rest of the missions trip.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and love! Be sure to tune in tomorrow to read about how our first day of campus outreach went!

~ Karina Han

BBQ and friends!

Day three was sunny, and bright for our outdoor BBQ! The Lord was shining on us as we prepared a traditional Japanese BBQ consisting of freshly grilled gyoza, flank steak, chicken, and hand-made nigiri (shaped in a plethora of unique shapes and sizes). The team was prepared to welcome fifty new comers under the Shin-Kobe park bridge, but by God’s grace was able to serve and build relationships with more than eighty people! From families to singles, all were truly a blessings to meet and were so open and friendly.

After the day in the park we were able to explore the rest of the surrounding forest area and found the Nunobiki waterfall, a time for koinonia with new and old friends alike!

To finish off the glorious day we were honored to be able to spend the night exploring Kobe with none other than Tsubasa!

He swept the team away to a delightful sukiyaki place and guided us to his favorite “secret” look-out spot over the entire city! After the long day the team was excited to get home and rest in preparation for church the next morning. Tomorrow would also bring the beginning of our official training; learning how to engage in campus ministry and flyering at various spots throughout the city.

Please continue to lift up your prayers for the team, that we will continue to not only build strong relationships with the people here, but also with one another. That we will be unified by our focus on Christ and growing in His likeness. Also that during our time here we would be the salt and light for His kingdom, and that all we do would be to glorify Christ.

Thank you so much for all your support, can’t wait to update you soon! :))

READY, SET, GO!!
(taking their mark to be the first one in the door)

-Meghan Ramos

Nihon de no shonichi… Our first day in Japan

Our team headed to Mustard Seed Church in Kobe, with a quick stop at 7/11 for breakfast. Onigiri, rice balls, were the breakfast of choice for many. We gathered for devotions and read Psalm 67:1-7. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine on us – so that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Psalm 67:1,2

We had an orientation and went over the schedule for the week. We are looking forward to what the Lord has for each of us as He’s given us an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and be used for His glory. We enjoyed meeting John and Brie Patton in person from Mustard Seed Kobe. It was such a blessing getting to know them and how God has brought them together to serve Him here in Japan. They truly have a love for God and a heart for the people here.

We enjoyed fellowship and lunch together before returning to the church to do a thorough cleaning. It was a blessing to see everyone working together and serving Him with happy hearts.

We did a Daiso run to prepare for some games and activities we will be having at a park under Kobe Train station on Saturday. Then, we met back at the church for prayer in the evening as we prepared to join people who are interested in learning and practicing their english. We headed to the restaurant, Saizeriya. There was a great turn-out for the event tonight and we met many people and enjoyed conversation as we shared a meal together. Some plan to attend the BBQ at the park and may come to church on Sunday. As Brie reminded us, He is the Lord of the harvest. Please continue to be in prayer with us as we all want to be a support and blessing to the people of the Mustard Seed Church and to be vessels used for His glory as we share God’s love in tangible ways here in Japan. I am humbled by His faithful love and grace He gives unconditionally. Thank you so much for all your love and prayers! Oyasuminasai! (Good night!) – Christy