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Month May 2015

Earthquake 8.5

We just felt a pretty big earthquake. Some car alarms went off, the kids woke up, and I think I heard Seita praying out loud for God’s mercy as he ran to…I’m not sure where he ran. I immediately go into emergency mode and can rattle off a list of steps to do in emergencies and I’m secretly proud of that, while the rest of everyone scrambles for…again, I’m not sure what.

But suddenly God is remembered by people who don’t remember Him. Suddenly He receives a million prayers for help by people who don’t know Him or deny Him. And we often wonder why God allows some things to happen. I know the results of an earthquake this big would be devastating in a different part of the world. Japan (we hope) is built to endure them.

When things go wrong and certain situations that were never on our agenda happen, we can feel the devastation. But God, in His mercy, gives grace. When we struggle and when we fail, God holds us up. When we remember Him no more, He gently reminds us of our need for Him. And the point of all this is to show Christ. Somewhere I have sung a song about the gospel shinning more brightly against a dark background. It’s true.

So as we wake up tomorrow morning and start having conversations about the earthquake, about life, pray that the Gospel infiltrates our speech and the peace we have in Christ is shown. Pray that as ladies share their struggles with me, as pieces of marriages get dropped in my path, as I start conversations with people trapped in a pain, as I say good morning to the perfectly dressed and self-sufficient moms, please pray.

An earthquake freshly reminds me to think with a perspective greater than my own. It makes us all desperate because it’s beyond what we can do or control ourselves. But God can use it for His glory, and He can use us to show others the Savior. It reminds me that this clean, well-mannered, and ‘safe’ place is a perfectly dark background. It just needs Christ.

Light Shining in the Darkness

Seita writes, “God blessed our family in a special way with a weeklong visit from Vince and Bonnie in Hinders in late February. Vince is the Executive Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, where I was pastor before coming to Japan. It was so helpful to hear their observations about what God is doing in our lives as a family and in our work. Vince graciously agreed to do an update on my behalf this month. Thanks, Vince!

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So then, as we have opportunity let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

As one of many churches that love the Sakaguchi’s, it’s been a joy for us to see all the ways God has met them in the past year as they settle in as missionaries in Tokyo. God has been faithful to provide grace after grace. One of the commitments our church made to Seita and Emma before they left for Japan was that we would extend pastoral care in several ways, including an annual visit.

During the week we spent with them, we were excited to see that their family is doing well, the gospel is going forth in Toyosu, and God is working through Seita and Emma in significant ways to accomplish His purposes. Grace Harbor is growing and now has about 80 people attending, while the average attendance at a Japanese church is 50 people. They are now meeting weekly, as of Easter Sunday.

As you can imagine, their lives are extremely full. We saw that between Seita’s leadership role at the church, Emma’s responsibilities in Children’s Ministry and the Nursery, Emma and the kids learning Japanese, school (Peter began pre-school in April), and their own time together as a family, there is little room for more to be added. And yet, the demands this spring have unexpectedly multiplied, with one leader experiencing a serious family crisis and another preparing to be away for three-months.

What began as a steady stream of responsibilities for Seita and Emma has become a deluge, and they need our prayers. Looking back, Emma’s decision to “be all there” (see her March 13 post) was God preparing her for what’s come. Here are some ways we can be praying for the Sakaguchi’s and for Grace Harbor:

  • That God’s light will penetrate the darkness. Opposition to their work is strong and they need increased faith to see God’s ability to overcome the darkness and clear their path to continue to reach the lost.
  • God’s protection on all at Grace Harbor Church
  • Additional servants to help in all areas of Grace Harbor, including administrative, teachers for Children’s Ministry and in the Nursery, hospitality, etc.
  • Continued strength, endurance, and health for the Sakaguchi family
  • Continued progress for Emma and their kids with learning Japanese
  • Healing and helping hands for the family in crisis
  • Provision during the three months that one of the families in leadership will be away

On our recent call, it was clear that Seita and Emma are being stretched, but they are standing strong in their faith. They are encouraged by what God is doing in their family and at Grace Harbor. We’re grateful that God is sustaining them, and that they let us know about their need for prayer. Thank you for joining us in prayer on their behalf.