May-July 2018 Carlson prayer update
An amazing few months!
It’s hard to think that the last time we wrote a prayer update, it was the beginning of May. Our apologies to all of you for not communicating more frequently. It has, however, been a wonderful period of time, as we have seen a lot of things happening at Shonan Community Church and elsewhere. We’ll highlight a number of those things, and take time to share more fully about one of them.
– In mid-May, Gary attended a “Refresh Retreat” with 15 other missionaries from various organizations. It was a chance to take a good look at one’s own spiritual life and consider ways to encourage other missionaries in their walk with Jesus.
– In the same month, Mr. Ishii visited Shonan Community Church, along with his daughter. They live just down the street from the church. Earlier this month, he was baptized! More on this below.
-We began hosting Maki, a college student whose father is the pastor of one of our Japan Covenant churches. She is hoping to transfer to college in the U.S. next winter, and is working to improve her English. Maki will be staying with us two Saturday nights a month.
– In June, a woman who has been baptized, but hasn’t followed through on her faith, contacted Pastor Bang about coming to our church. She has come to worship services several times, bringing a friend with her, and is also studying the Bible with Pastor Bang.
– On July 15, we went to attend the 30th anniversary celebration of the Isesaki Covenant Church – our first church plant! We were joined by our older son Adam, his wife Megumi and our three grandchildren, and also by our younger son Andy, who had come from the U.S. to visit us. Gary got to preach at the worship service. Great to celebrate with the Isesaki church people, and great to go with our sons to see where we used to live when they were kindergarten and elementary school age.
– From July 26-28, our church held its annual “Summer Day Camp”, a vacation Bible school program. It was great to have kids from church families and kids from the neighborhood come together to sing, play games, do crafts, and hear about Jesus.
A baptism in the ocean!
Shortly after Mr. Ishii started coming to our church, he talked with Pastor Bang about getting baptized. He wanted to be baptized soon, and he wanted to be baptized in the ocean! Mr. Ishii’s wife, who is Filipino, is a believer, so he had already heard the gospel. Pastor Bang had several study sessions with him to make sure that he knows Jesus and has decided to follow him. Together they chose July 8, a Sunday, as the date for the event. Mr. Ishii was surprised when everyone who came to morning worship that day got in cars to head to the beach for his baptism.
Gary was privileged to go into the water with Mr. Ishii and Pastor Bang to assist. It was quite a challenge to deal with the waves, but the baptism happened without any problems. Surfers and people walking along the shore nearby noticed and a few asked our church people some questions about what we were doing.
After coming up out of the water, Mr. Ishii was given a certificate of his baptism, a Bible, and one of the members of the church brought out a cake she had made to celebrate. It was such a wonderful afternoon, and we were all a bit reluctant to have to start heading home. Since then, we can see signs that Mr. Ishii is growing in his new faith. Here are a few pictures from that day.
Thanks for praying with us for the following:
– For Mr. Ishii, that he will keep growing in his new faith in Christ.
– For the two women who have started coming to our church. For now, we aren’t sharing their names, but as you pray, God will know who you are asking for! Pray that they will each sense Christ’s presence in their lives and in our church.
– For the children (and their families) who were impacted by our Summer Day Camp event. Pray that God will lead children and their families to come to Christ through us.
– For those in southwestern Japan who have been hit by torrential rains, landslides, flooding, and then after all that, a terrible heat wave that has scorched most of the country. Pray for churches in those areas as they try to minister to people in Christ’s name.
May you all have a wonderful summer, filled with times for family, friends, and rest. And may you sense God’s presence in it all!
Gary & Pauline
Our address in Japan: