The Ohanami Café (without hana)
Today (Wednesday) we started our group time with a character study on Job. After the high of looking at Jesus yesterday, Job is a far cry from that. But it was nice to be reminded of how God uses even reluctant and ungrateful people to accomplish his works (even when they are somewhere on the run from him). Höhne-Sensei made the point that God’s sovereignty is less about controlling what is going on in the universe and more about changing the hearts of people to worship his Son. Again we were thankful for that later in the day.
Following on from this Naomi lead a Bible study. To start Chris shared her testimony, and told of her up-bringing, her anger at God and how that was taken away when she came to faith in Christ at Campus Bible Study. She concluded by Jesus’ challenge in Mark 8, that those who follow after him must deny themselves and take up their cross, and his promise that those who lose their life for his sake will find true life.
The Bible study was on Isaiah 6 and Isaiah’s call to a hard and seemingly fruitless ministry, but one that is invited to share in the glory of God. The teams drew the scene to explain it. Thom being an illustrator relished the challenge. The study had to wrap up quicker than usual but we all had lunch together and a few stayed around for our お花見カフェー (flower viewing café).
Unfortunately, the temperate weather has meant the sakura (cherry blossom) trees haven’t really bloomed yet. But that didn’t stop some Moore College students intentionally ignoring cultural sensitivities and giving people flyers to invite them while their Japanese hosts explained it in a more agreeable way… Well, all except for the lovely 86-year-old lady who would throw herself in front of bike riders to make sure they got an invitation.
A lady from the church, who is an accomplished pianist, played a few classical and Christian songs and explained them before handing them over to a terrified Australian to give his testimony in Japanese. I stumbled through it to everyone’s amazement and was told it had one lady in tears (later I would find out she cried at everything). I’m unsure if people were more impressed by what I said or the samurai hairstyle I was sporting. Luke also gave his testimony in Japanese and used some beautiful imagery of cherry blossoms (both in the form of photos and his words). All in all, it was a great success (apart from having few actual blossoms), and many conversations were had with people whether they stopped or not.
Afterwards we had dinner together before a prayer meeting. From what we hear almost every church in Japan has a Wednesday night prayer meeting every week. Most of us stayed at Eifuku-Minami, but some went to Hamadayama. At Eifuku Sam gave a talk which was a Biblical Theology 101 course from the Bible reading of Psalm 91. One girl, Mizuki, remembered her training in Biblical Theology at NET (the KGK version of NTE) and was very encouraged. We then had prayer points read out. Normally its person by person but we were too big (a great problem to have)! Then we prayed. It was great to pray for the churches that have done so much for us, and to know we were joining Christians right across the nation in prayer.
So if you would like to join us in prayer, please pray for:
The church Bible studies. The people that come are quite interested to learn about the Bible, and were a bit disappointed we didn’t get through everything today. Pray that this may continue to grow.
The Ohanami Café. Please pray that those who came to the “Café” and met people from the church would come back to meet Jesus. For those who kept walking past to remember that the church is there and come visit some time. And for the church members who stepped out of their comfort zone to invite strangers into their home to keep being bold to do that.
The prayer meetings. Give thanks for a church and a nation of faithful prayers. When everyone is so busy it would be difficult to lose a priority on pray. Pray that God would continue to give clear answers to these prayers and that many more people will be confident to pray as well.