Anna, Mon 09 September 2019, Posts

Hello friends and family,

Anna here, recently returned from a trip back to Nebraska. :) The three of us were back in town for a couple of weeks for our younger brother’s wedding, and I was also able to stay long enough to be in a very close friend’s wedding. (Congratulations to both couples on starting your lives together—we’ll be praying for you from Japan!) It was something of a bittersweet time being back in Nebraska, for me for the first time in almost two and a half years. On the bitter side, it really brought home the reality that the three of us can’t be very involved in the lives of family and friends because of where we are working and doing ministry. It’s a sweet blessing, though, to have family that we love so much and who love us, and an even greater blessing that our family shares the same faith in the one who loves us best of all. I’m thankful that we all can live by that faith and strive to seek his kingdom first no matter where we are in the world. Some added sweetness in the trip was getting a break from the fairly intense heat and humidity of Miyazaki summers, seeing many familiar faces, spending time playing lots of cards and board games with family, and talking with some of you and hearing your thoughts, encouragement, and advice regarding work and ministry in Japan. Thank you, as always, for your prayers and support.

the five of us Faeh kids at the youngest one's wedding

And speaking of one of the big answers to your prayers, April last posted with an update about us getting the go-ahead to start an English conversation and Bible study group at our Japanese church. Both the language exchange group that I went to at my church in Nagoya last summer and materials from our good friend who leads an international campus ministry at UNK gave us ideas for the meetings’ structure and content. The idea of the group is to have an English portion and a Bible portion. We are aiming to choose a theme for the English portion that can bridge well into a Bible portion focused on major events and people in the Bible, starting from the beginning and following the thread that connects everything to Jesus. As April talked about in her post, the initial plan for the group was to meet with only church members for a couple of months to work out any kinks, after which we could open it up to anyone in the community who was interested.

We did as planned, meeting with church members twice a month on weekends in May, June, and July. What was a little less planned was the amount and nature of the kinks we had (and still have) to work through. I won’t go into detail, but especially in the beginning there were some expectations we weren’t meeting and uncertainty with how to handle different ages, personalities, beliefs, and English levels in the group. There was also a growing awareness that our desire for this group to be something we all partner in as a form of outreach was not a purpose necessarily understood by everyone coming. Material preparation, headed up by Audra and April, was also a challenge on top of work at times. Add to this the fact that I (working full time and then some) was usually looking at the materials the day-of and then teaching and self-translating as best I could, and the meetings ended up being a bit messier than envisioned.

But there were many blessings in the mess. =) Hoping to use this group for outreach, we (especially Audra) weren’t sure how the nature and content of the group would be received when the church board wanted to have a trial period with only church members, and members came (we think) expecting this to be a basic English conversation class. However, addressing everyone’s opinions with the first meeting enabled me, in much less than perfect Japanese and some tears, to directly explain the whole purpose of what we were doing. The purpose was not to offer a basic English class for interested church members to take as a hobby, but instead to offer Japanese Christians and ourselves a chance to reach out to at least a few of the millions of nonbelievers in Japan through an English group where people can talk to one another, learn about God’s story through looking at the Bible, and hear about Jesus very possibly for the first time. Recognizing that it’s often hard for us and Christians everywhere to have the courage to share our faith, we wanted to work together with them to use what we have, English, to build a bridge to the gospel.

In addition to getting the chance to explain all this, another positive development was that meeting with just the church members gave us valuable practice and the chance to make materials that we will refine and use again starting this month. Furthermore, the church members who continued to come gave us some really valuable input for things we could adjust, and (I think) some of them really began to get on board with the idea of this being an outreach. And here I have to express how thankful I am for our Japanese pastor in this regard, because his prayers and input continue to show that he is 110% behind the effort to reach out to Japanese people who don’t know Christ through this group we’re calling “Miya-Friend”.

In the same way, we would be so thankful if you could provide your prayers and support for this group set to restart this Saturday, September 14th and meet twice a month for however long God will use it. In fact, that brings to mind another blessing over these last few months—that even with the problems we created or encountered, we felt okay at the end of each meeting, simply because we knew that all we can do is what God has asked us to do and labor in his harvest. We have no idea if this group will ever be a success in human terms. But we know who it is for, and we know that he will use it how he chooses. We know that we can plant and water seeds, but it is God who causes growth. Pray that he would pour out his spirit on Japanese believers and renew a passion in them for the gospel, that he would pour out his spirit on us as we prepare materials and teach about his story, and that he would pour out his spirit on nonbelievers and grow in their hearts a desire to know and follow Jesus, the one who came to seek and save the lost. Likewise, our prayer for you all is that you would labor in God’s harvest wherever you are, because wherever you are, there are people who have not encountered the glory, the grace, or the goodness of our God. Let’s get to work, shall we?

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” - Luke 10:2

In Christ,

Anna Faeh