Hello to all of our wonderful friends and family! We hope this update finds you well! I am typing this from my brand new (and fast) laptop! For those of you that don't know, I was able to purchase a new laptop because of many generous gifts. It has already been such a huge help! You can find my laptop update here. Anyway, here's what we have been up to recently.
After the students arrived back from their outreaches to the Philippines and Thailand, we took a group of 10 people to the northern region of Tohoku. Thank you for praying for us! We got back on the 12th of February after a great 4 weeks! The team was really unified and joyful the whole time and many of the people we worked with would mention how much of an encouragement we were. The team also really enjoyed the area, with a few of them saying they would like to visit it again in the future! For the first week, we stayed in Yamagata at Naoko's grandma's church. We had a good time shovelling snow (we arrived in a blizzard- literally!), singing at elderly homes, playing with children and giving testimonies, among other things. After this week, Naoko came back to Tokyo, before the rest of us went to the tsunami hit areas of Ishinomaki and Iwaki, as well as the largest city called Sendai. In each place we visited, we were able to meet up with local people, encourage them and work along side them. We prayer walked, did street evangelism, helped farmers and prayed for people. This trip also helped us to build on the relationships that we already had. This will really help with our long-term vision for the area.
After outreach, the students had one final week of lectures which focused a lot on debriefing the whole DTS as well as get them ready for their steps after DTS. On Monday (22 February), they graduated! It has been a great 5 months getting to know the students and seeing them grow as disciples! Yesterday there were many tears as they all left. It really was a priviledge to be a staff on their school, as well as lead one of their outreaches. We both learnt a lot about being leaders and discipling people. Now that it's over, it's very quiet! We now have two weeks to rest before getting stuck into the next season. Please check out this great video (on Facebook) that a staff made for DTS graduation!
Now that DTS is over, we can really focus on more long-term things. I really want to focus more on learning the Japanese language and we both want to start praying about and planning what moving to Tohoku with a team would look like. The next step would probably be setting up regular prayer and vision meetings for anyone interested at YWAM Tokyo to join. We already have a couple of people excited for this to happen! As well as this, we will be becoming parents in June! We have no idea what to expect really, though we expect our quiet apartment to suddenly become not so quiet. Over the coming months we will need to get our apartment ready and purchase many things that starting a family will require. Please be praying for us! Oh and one other thing about the baby.. It's a boy! :)
We don't like to talk much about our financial situation, but we really would like some prayer. As you likely know, we live 100% on the generous donations that people send to us every month. We are so thankful to you, and to God, that all of our needs, as a married couple, up until this point have been met! We have never gone without! Now that we have a baby on the way, we realise that we would need more financial support. To make matters a bit more interesting, since the start of this year, the Pound to Yen exchange rate has been getting worse, quite impressively. In December it was 186 yen to 1 pound. Today it is 156 yen to 1 pound, and getting worse each day. Please be praying that God will continue to provide for all of our needs, for more monthly financial support, and that God's peace will fill our minds.
Thank you for reading our updates and for praying for us. Your prayers influence God's kingdom here in Japan! We really couldn't be here without your support. Please feel free to ask us any questions about our work or anything else. We'd love to hear from you!
Love, Gary & Naoko
Give thanks for..
A great outreach in Tohoku
The DTS students who did a great job this past 5 months
The growing baby boy!
Our prayer & financial supporters
Please pray for..
The DTS students to put into practise all they learned during DTS
That God will guide the students on their next steps
God to speak to us about His vision for Tohoku
Gary to learn Japanese
The baby to keep growing and for Him to prepare us!
This Sunday saw Dot preach for us on John 16 v 16-33 click here
It was a welcome return for us from Dot a long standing friend of the church. She spoke of the Holy Spirit and how he helps us overcome in hard situations. As Jesus says in verse 33 of our reading.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Dot is a great example to us of how we can apply this in our lives as she has overcome situations in her life that without God would make most of us crumble. But Praise God she has overcome and was a welcome site preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, may we face the adversities in our life with the same power of the Holy Spirit within us.
Our morning service at 1030am, which is primarily an adult service as there will be no children's ministry happening, but don't let that stop you coming if you can't make the afternoon Messy Church, children are still welcome.
Our afternoon service 4.30pm, Messy Church, if you have children then this is definitely for them (and you), there will be crafts, games, singing and a Bible story, then food, what more could you ask for? Come and join us.
Alpha is coming to St Gabriel's, if you have never done Alpha or if you have done Alpha and would like to join in and be part of this course contact Jean or Alan, (07527172334) and be part of this exciting journey where we look to find out what life is all about.
Visit our Alpha page on this website for more info on when, where and how it all runs and also for a link to the Alpha website.
Last Sunday saw our Vicar David Gavin bring the word from John 16 : 5-16 click here and learned of the promise of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus has now sent as our comforter and teacher. The Holy Spirit comes to teach us the truth, Jesus said 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' John 14 : 6 click here, that is why when we become Christians it is important that we are Baptised in the Holy Spirit, Jesus himself promised to send the Spirit therefore we need to receive the gift that comes from Him,
'when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.' At the end of the service all the ladies received a copy of 'the Fathers Love letter' click here. Written in the form of a letter it takes scriptures from the Bible and brings the message of God's love for each and everyone of us. (Not just the ladies.)
According to thecanonical gospelsofMatthew,MarkandLuke,Jesus Christspent 40 days fasting in the desert, where heendured temptationbySatan.Lent
originated as a mirroring of this, fasting 40 days as preparation for Easter.
Every Sunday was seen as a commemoration of the Sunday of Christ's resurrection
and so as a feast day on which fasting was inappropriate. Accordingly,
Christians fasted from Monday to Saturday (6 days) during 6 weeks and from
Wednesday to Saturday (4 days) in the preceding week, thus making up the number
of 40 days.
Ash Wednesday derives its
name from the practice of blessing ashes made frompalm branchesblessed on the previous year'sPalm
Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the
accompaniment of the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or
"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return".
(Taken from Wikipedia)
If you want to check out the liturgy for this service for the Church of England click here
Today we had Dave preaching on this text and pointing out that in contrast to most of John's Gospel (sometimes referred to as the Gospel of love.) Jesus here is talking about hate. Not God's hate as the very essence of God is love, but the hate of the world for God, His ways and His people, those who choose to follow Jesus and His ways.
So how are we to behave in the light of this hatred from the world? By loving them and serving them with the love of Christ.
How will this be possible? Through the power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to send us. (John 15 v 26) (click here)
In the evening we had a time of reflection and prayer lead by Paula and Sarah (the curate from All Saints church, who had been visiting the last two weeks). This culminated in the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine as we remembered Christ who died for all of us and rose again to sit at the right hand of the Father having set us free from our sins by the shedding of His own blood.
What a mighty God we serve, that while we were yet sinners, He died for us (Romans 5v8) to set us free from our past and to enable us to have a relationship with Him, the one true Holy and righteous God whose only desire is to set us free.
We have our usual Sunday Service this Sunday at 1030am with Dave Griffith-Jones preaching, hope to see as many there as possible, last two Sundays we have had new faces, who we look forward to welcoming back, and we are believing for more new people to come and hear about the God who loves each and every one of us, so much so that He sent His son Jesus Christ to come and die for us and to pay the price for our sins that we may be set free.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3v16, click here)
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8v36 Click here.
also on Sunday at 6.00pm we have a Celtic Service where we will have a time of reflecting on God's word, prayer and Holy Communion.
And don't forget on Saturday afternoons 1 - 3pm we have Celebrate Recovery a new group which started successfully last week and is a place for all to come and share and grow together in recovering from whatever life has either thrown at us, or just bad choices that we have made and perhaps continue to make. All are welcome wherever you are on your journey.
Celebrate Recovery is a 12 step Bible based, Christ Centered program for all.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3v23-24. Click here.
Last Sunday the three churches in our team St. Gabriel's, St. Cleopas and St. Philemon's (Toxteth Team Ministry) met at St. Philemons for our APCM. As churches we come under the one banner and share a common goal to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our community. Our mission statement is
"Together, working with God to see ourselves, our neighbours and our community transformed by Jesus"
We saw how each church is working to make this a reality in and around the community where God has called us. We thanked God for all the opportunities each congregation is being given and prayed for more and more workers for the harvest field.
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9v37-38. Click here
Why not come along and join us one Sunday, be transformed yourself and help transform our community by serving and loving with the love of Christ.