Setback in Japan

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This update comes from Dale and Ann in Japan. This concerns their ESL teaching efforts in the country.

“The Tomioka community center shut down our classes in February 2007. We had made it clear in all our advertisements that we were connected with a Christian church and that we therefore have a ten minute Bible time at the end of each ninety minute class. The community centre knew about this from the time we began our classes and for almost two years had no problem giving us permission to use the facility. However, the reason given for denying use of the facility in February 2007 was that we were engaging in religious activities. Until we find a facility to use, Ann and Michiko Matsumura (pastor’s wife of Kodama church) hope to have monthly reunions with the English class ladies.”

It raises questions about why this happened at this point in time, and where they will proceed from here. We are hoping that relationships continue strongly, and that the program will resume very soon. This is such an effective way to share in Japan, as it breaks down barriers and addresses a pressing need in the country. Could you join us in praying for wisdom and provision?

A Challenging Thought

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As a communications person, I wonder about all the influences that are exerted on us nowadays. My responsibility is to generate your awareness, excitement and (hopefully) involvement in missions somehow. But there are people like me (often entire departments of them) that are competing with me to try and get you to think about something else. A vehicle. A brand of cola. Your hair colour.

Are you even aware of how many influences there are, and where the come from? There’s no way I can keep track of how many ads I’m exposed to over the course of a day. Billboards. TV spots. Product Placements. While I tune most of them out, they certainly have some kind of accumulative effect. But I gotta ask, Where is the Church in all of this? Or, let’s take it to a personal level:

How much time do you spend thinking about what you can do? Or about your life-purpose? Do you allow yourself to dream, plan and act? If not, I encourage you to start. If you do, feel free to involve us at any stage of the process. Let’s work together to ensure that Christ’s influence is felt in the world in amongst all the other competing voices.

A Note From Morning Star Church

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This is a story that comes from Morning Star Church in Dnepro, Ukraine. A young woman in the congregation was recently exposed to a lot of variety. She was hired recently as a translator for a foreign woman who’s been visiting a bunch of churches, under a range of denominations, in a number of places. Being exposed to so much variety has given this young woman a deeper appreciation for her own home church. She found that a large number of churches employ legalism as a way to ‘please’ God. This incorporates everything from worship styles to strict dress codes! The introduction to their counters has given her a renewed perspective on grace and freedom. And now she can hardly wait for Easter this Sunday to celebrate with her home church. (Easter comes a week later in Ukraine — here is pic from last year’s sunrise service.)

More exciting news is in store for Morning Star! They’ve bought a property, and will be working to remove the little house that’s on it, and starting a new construction project with a “big hole”. They are currently in planning stages that require input from and negotiation by the whole congregation. Please pray for unity of purpose and vision during this time, and for the provisions that they need to be made so that this important construction project will meet its goals.

Peter Philpott Update

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Further news is available on Peter’s death. It was caused by a sudden brain condition, either an aneurysm or a stroke (apparently the Russian is difficult to translate), and there were no obvious symptoms leading up to it.

The funeral will be held in Russia, and a memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Ottawa on April 14th.

His obituary as printed in the Ottawa Citizen can be viewed here.

The Reality of Hell

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These days, Christians put a lot of emphasis on the benefits and blessings of salvation, and very little about what they are actually saved from. I was reminded of that by Larry, who is currently working with us in Thailand.

There is a lot of misery that has been brought to us by what he calls “Hell’s Travel Agents”. They rattle off the attractive sales pitch, and hand out the glossy brochures, but what they’re advertising — alluring as it is — is Death. Our challenge is to show that reality, and to offer the choice for Life. And Larry’s new perspective is that that truth needs to be taken specifically to those travel agents, those who are actively ensnaring others in pain and suffering (you don’t have to look too far in Thailand), and show them that there’s a another way.

This new perspective entails a special boldness. Larry is asking for prayer in this. Pray for God-given opportunities to talk to new people, for the courage to stand up as a light in the dark, and for miracles in the hardest people’s hearts.