What a season this has been! After putting up wallpaper until 2:30 in the morning, lengthy training on how to make the perfect latte, and countless hours of researching, planning and preparing, the first ever Paz Coffee Shop is now open! I was tasked with the coffee shop design, and I gave my all tomaking it the most comfortable, warm and welcoming coffee shop around. Comments after our grand opening in September (pictured left) said Paz Coffee Shop is better than Starbucks, and that it is the best coffee shop in the whole area. A couple that visited thanked us over and over again for “dreaming of and setting up an atmosphere where Japanese can find healing from depression.” As I mentioned in our summer newsletter, the purpose of this coffee shop is to make it easier for the average Japanese to come into a church setting. All week the space is a functioning coffee shop with one very special ingredient – God’s loving presence! We have little cards out on the tables to let people know our staff and volunteers are available should they need prayer for anything. On many occasions people have asked for prayer, and were even moved to tears at the love poured out. On Sunday, when we hold our church service, those who have visited the coffee shop are already comfortable in that environment and can hear about Jesus. Since our opening, we have new visitors every Sunday! This has been a season of stretching and learning, revamping what “church” means to us so we can receive people who have no notion whatsoever of what that looks like. The coffee shop is an easily multipliable method to plant churches throughout Japan. We are already dreaming of our next coffee shop/church plant, and we’ve only been at this for a few months! This is only the beginning!
After graduating 22 student volunteers from our biblical counseling course in preparation for the Choose Life Project, our suicide prevention system went online in August. Several people visit our Choose Life website daily. Some just need to talk or want advice, but others have shared gruesome details of their plans to kill themselves. We believe the plans of the enemy have been thwarted in many situations already, and this is only the beginning of God’s attack on the stronghold of suicide here in Japan. Many Japanese whose lives have been radically changed by Jesus’ love are stepping up to fight on the front lines. Once the people who contact us through Choose Life feel comfortable enough to meet, the coffee shop provides the perfect place where they can be accepted and loved.
He’s Got This!
As this year is drawing to a close, we look back on the many lessons we’ve learned. God has shown us above all that He is in control, He’s got this! All we have to do is trust and rely on Him, and He will come through in every situation. He is faithful and He is good, and that is all that matters! We pray this holiday season that your family also can reflect on how good and faithful God was this year, and every year, and with great expectation look forward to His goodness next year!God bless you all!
Sofia had her kindergarten summer festival this Saturday. They dressed up in yukatas (Japanese summer kimono) and danced typical Japanese summer dances. I must say Sofia looks absolutely adorable as a little Japanese princess in her yukata. I’m sure you’ll agree. 🙂 The festival was one of the last things to wrap up the school term before summer break. Sofia has learned so many Japanese words in these last few months of going to the Japanese kindergarten. We’ve been so surprised when she just blurts out beautiful Japanese! She’s looking forward to returning at the end of August!
During Sofia’s summer break, we will be making a short trip to Brazil – for the congresso this year in honor of Josiah’s father, Luke – and also to the U.S. for some very quick visits with family and friends. If we don’t make it to your area this time around, we hope to see you soon! You’re always welcome to come to Japan to visit us! 🙂
We just had a baptism at our Sunday service, and three precious people were baptized! Baptism is a huge deal for the Japanese, declaring publicly the decision they’ve made to follow Jesus. Sometimes it takes a while for a Japanese Christian to decide to be baptized, but once they do they are declaring they are willing to be shunned by family and friends for their faith. If you will recall Takahiro, the young man we met at the bus stop last August, he was one of the three baptized on Sunday! He gave a powerful testimony showing his gratefulness that Josiah took the risk and spoke to him at the bus stop that day. He says he knows now that God orchestrated all of those events to bring Takahiro to Him. We are so excited about what God is doing in his life!
We are super excited that as of September 11 we will begin meeting weekly in our new location in Omotesando. God truly blessed us with a beautiful meeting place right in the heart of Tokyo! Please pray for all the preparations heading up to this big move. We need many volunteers to help set up and tear down the lighting and sound systems, and also teams to go out and do street evangelism every Sunday before the service. We already have a small group meeting on Fridays in the area, and it’s growing before our Sunday service even begins there! The work here is exploding, God is moving, and we’re trying to keep up with Him! Hallelujah!
Josiah, along with 9 other missionaries and friends, braved strong winds and heavy rain to scale the most photographed mountain in the world – Mount Fuji. It stands at a towering 3,776 meters high. It was an overnight trip, with only a few hours rest in a lodge. The response was unanimous – it was an incredible and matchless experience. I have a feeling the pictures do not truly relay that overwhelming feeling of how huge God’s creation is, which I am sure is what all the climbers felt. Nevertheless, here are some pictures for those of us who will probably never make it up there in person. 🙂
After taking some time to move in to our new rental house, get settled in, and to figure out how on earth to buy recognizable food at the grocery store (still working on that one), we started Japanese classes! Our professors are hilarious Japanese women who make the almost 4 hours every morning seem to fly by. Praise the Lord we are able to study together because Grandma, Christine Huber, is babysitting Sofia for us every morning, Monday through Friday! What a huge blessing that is for us! One thing that has also made life more interesting is that we decided to bike to and from school every day, about 21 miles (34 kilometers) round trip. You’d be surprised how many people bike to and from work here in Japan, but I’m not sure how many bike as farrrr as we are. 🙂 It’s a lot of fun, we get our exercise out of the way, and most importantly we’re saving lots of money by not taking the train! Japanese school, and life in Japan in general, is a bit expensive, so we’re pinching pennies everywhere we can. God is so good and we know He will continue to provide for us through your generous and faithful support so that we can continue to serve Him where He is moving!
We also began discipling a couple this week, as well as getting involved in the worship team at church (I’m singing and Josiah has taken up his long-lost friend, the electric guitar), and we’re finding we fit in very comfortably in the new place He’s called us too. The Fuse Jesus Community (the bilingual service of Paz Japan’s church, geared toward young people) is an exciting place to be on Sunday afternoons, and we are seeing how attractive it is to young Japanese adults. They enjoy the contemporary worship, and the opportunity to hear messages in Japanese and English, as many of the younger people are seeking to learn English. We believe God is going to do amazing things here in Japan. The rest of the team will be arriving over the next month or so, and we are all looking forward to seeing how God is going to use us to help grow His Kingdom here!
We can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and support. We know God has orchestrated this exciting change, and we are all in it together! Stay tuned for more! God bless you all!