Praise the Lord! God has allowed us to adjust slowly to our new life and ministry as the interim pastor of the Immanuel Seisho (“Bible”) Baptist Church in Nayoro, Hokkaido, a rural city in the middle of the northernmost island of Japan with a vastly different culture and lifestyle from anything we have ever experienced. We are now two months into our six-month term here before we plant our first church, and we are thrilled to share with you all that God is doing here!
This month began in a very exciting way, as we had a friend visit from our sending church with her baby and her father, whom we met for the first time, as well as her uncle, who leads Filipino ministries in Japan. I had the joy of picking them up at the airport on Saturday, May 6, and showing them the beauty of God’s creation in Hokkaido as we slowly made our way back up to Nayoro, while my wife led Bible Adventure completely on her own for the first time. May 7 was a big day, as I had the honor of baptizing Bro. and Mrs. Mizuno, who had trusted Christ as their Saviour a month prior. We had 24 people in attendance that day, including 6 first-time visitors! In the days leading up to this weekend, we thoroughly explained baptism to Bro. and Mrs. Mizuno and prepared the baptismal tank, which for us meant setting up and filling a swimming pool in the living room. Every person getting baptized shares their salvation testimonies in the worship service. We praise the Lord for Bro. and Mrs. Mizuno’s major step of obedience, as well as for how many Japanese people were able to hear Christ professed through the testimony and obedience of a newly saved Japanese couple. We ask that you please pray for this couple, as their spiritual battles have already begun, and there have already been areas of stumbling. We rejoice for their decision to follow in believer’s baptism immediately to make their decision to trust Christ as their Saviour public. We pray now that they would continue to obey and grow in Him through the battles that they will face as Christians.
One of our visitors that Sunday was a local mother and her son Takumi, who had set foot in our church for the first time a day prior for our Saturday children’s program, Bible Adventure, when my wife led it alone for the first time. They came to see the rare baptism, and the mother actually came forward during the invitation of that service. Though she did not trust Christ that day, she is definitely seeking for truth. Please pray for her. We also have a time of invitation in Bible Adventure. At the end of each service, we ask any children wanting to make a decision to either come to my wife or me personally or draw a star next to their name on the sign-in sheet that we set out at the entrance. We rejoice that on May 20, Takumi responded to the invitation by literally jumping out of his seat and running to draw a star by his name! It was a true joy to take him personally through the Gospel and see him experience the joy of trusting Christ as his personal Saviour. We praise God that they have been attending regularly!
We took another bank trip to the city of Kisarazu, where our first church plant will be, on May 18. The foundations have been completed on our property for our home and church office! Our city seems to grow every time we visit, and we are excited to see what God will do there. We had the special joy of spending that evening in Tokyo with our friend from Bible college and his wife, who were visiting Japan. They serve at one of our supporting churches and also translate our praise reports into Spanish every month. We are truly thankful for friends like them! My wife and I celebrated five years of marriage on May 19. Words could never express how thankful I am for my wife. Thank you for your part in all that God allows us to do—as a team!
Towards the beginning of this month, we had the privilege of seeing a couple get baptized. I was able to explain about baptism to the wife, and it was an encouragement to hear her heart as she spoke about wanting to share the joy that she found with others publicly through baptism. During that same weekend, we received some encouragement from home, as one of the ladies from our sending church came to visit us, along with her baby daughter, her father, and her uncle. That Saturday, a third-grade boy attended Bible Adventure for the first time. He received Christ as his Saviour a few weeks later and has been attending Sunday school on a regular basis. He is a joy to teach, as he is so excited to learn all he can about God and the Bible. I have also had the privilege of speaking with and getting to know his mom, as she comes with him to each service he attends. We are still praying for her salvation. We are also praying for the salvation of an older couple who have been attending somewhat regularly since we arrived. It has been a blessing getting to know the wife as she slowly opens up to us. Towards the end of this month, we got to see the progress of our future home and ministry in Kisarazu, as well as celebrate our 5th anniversary in Tokyo. I’m so blessed to be married to such a thoughtful and caring husband. I’m so glad that God has brought us together!
Your friends and co-laborers to Japan,
Go and Danielle Oishi