Weather has been quite unusual this year here in the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido, with much higher humidity, longer heat waves, and more severe downpours similar to that of the islands below us. August 4 had the worst rain, with many flood warnings and instructions to stay indoors. However, both my wife and I felt strongly that the Lord wanted us to visit a certain couple that has come to services off and on for the last few years. The Smith family (the missionary pastor of this church for whom we have been covering for during their current furlough) has been witnessing to and praying for this Buddhist couple for many years, and we have tried to do the same since we arrived here in April. Thirty minutes into our visit, the wife suddenly brought up the subject of eternity, wishing to know for certain where she was going after this life is over. I first began by trying to present the Gospel to both of them, but as the husband kept trying to change the subject, my wife was able to take her to the side to go through the Gospel privately while I visited with the husband. It was an hour later that I caught a glimpse of them praying, and then I heard the wife repeatedly saying, “Ah, subarashii!” (“Oh, this is wonderful!”) She had accepted Christ as her Saviour! Please pray for her, as well as the many children who have gotten saved in the last few months. They are all either at the mercy of their husbands or their parents, making it difficult for them to be able to come to church. They all will, no doubt, have battles ahead, but rejoice in their salvation as we pray that God would use them to be a light in many of their dark homes!
We have been praising God about the recent rapid Christian growth of one of our relatively new believers, Bro. Kai, who has been coming to church more faithfully in the last few months. At the beginning of this month, he made a statement of wanting to grow to be a more serious disciple of Christ. He has come early to study the Bible, stayed late to learn and sing more hymns unto God, greeted visitors when they come, and even helped us unload a truck full of Japanese Bibles late in the night at the end of the month! The biggest victory for him and another brother who comes faithfully was during the Obon season, the spiritually darkest holiday in Japan, which is full of idol worship. Strong family and community pressures often cause church attendance to be the lowest in this season. We as a church decided to make this a time where we took a trip as a family in Christ and worshiped our God. We all drove six hours out to Kushiro to worship and fellowship with the new church plant of the Wilhite family, a missionary family who helped us much when we first arrived in Hokkaido. It was a very refreshing time for all of us and served as a wonderful opportunity for both brothers to grow in their faith and take a strong stance on Who is their God.
With just one full month remaining of our interim pastorate here at the Immanuel Seisho Baptist Church of Nayoro, Hokkaido, we have been focusing more on preparing for the church’s re-transition and our upcoming move. The Smith family will be returning to continue this work in November, but my wife and I will be leaving at the beginning of October to begin the Kisarazu Kibo Baptist Church, so his daughter and her husband, who serve at another church in Hokkaido, will be coming to fill the gap. We had a wonderful time of fellowship with them on August 11, and we trust that God will use them mightily! We made our final trip to Kisarazu on August 18, where we were officially able to receive the keys to our new home and church office building, as well as find a new, beautiful auditorium to rent for our Grand Opening Christmas Services, as well as for some of our Sunday services! Our final Sunday here in Hokkaido will be October 1, and the next praise report will be our final praise report covering the work here. Thank you for praying as we seek to finish strong here while we simultaneously prepare for our first church plant in Kisarazu, Chiba!
This month was such an exciting month! Towards the beginning of the month, we visited a couple that has been attending off and on since we arrived here in Nayoro. During the visit, I had the opportunity to take an hour going through the Gospel with her, emphasizing her need to trust Christ alone. The wife sweetly accepted Christ as her Saviour. This was the first adult lady I’ve had the privilege of leading to the Lord in Japanese! During the week of Obon, as a church, we were able to take a trip to Kushiro to visit the Wilhites. It was so encouraging to sing praises to our Lord and have good Christian fellowship during what is spiritually the darkest week in Japan. After we arrived back in Nayoro, we flew to Kisarazu the very next day to receive the keys to our house and church office. We are already planning to house guests coming for missions trips and thinking of how we will set up the services that we will hold there. I can’t wait to see God work in our new home of Kisarazu as well! On the day that we returned, we were visited by a friend from the Senri Newtown Baptist Church. in Osaka! It was such a blessing to get a little taste of home from the first place to love us and help us navigate life in this country. Her visit went by much too fast, but I can’t wait to see her again when we visit Osaka in October. We appreciate your continued prayers as we begin our last month in Hokkaido and begin preparations for our upcoming move.
Your friends and co-laborers to Japan,
Go and Danielle Oishi